London is an easy place to lose yourself in – but it is one you can also find yourself in too
I have been lost.
I possibly still am. But for now, I am going to keep it this way.
My constant moving around has been stagnant of late. The last bit of whirlwind, trekking around was mid-year, embarking on a spontaneous road trip on steroids throughout Europe with my mate driving a flash Audi convertible. When I put it like that, who can blame me?
You see, I had the dream to live in London. It has been my dream for years. I wrote it down on almost all new year resolutions I made. When I left home in July 2014, the goal was to travel a bit then plonk my ass and work in London. Why London? Hell, I have no idea – I think it was in imbedded the brain to go because it is what a whole bunch of Australians do. It was going to be something different, easier with the fact I speak English (sometimes with the gibberish that comes out of my mouth, I question if I actually can) and fulfilling a goal I have had for so long.
The plan was to just live overseas for a bit and see what it is like. Also in the plan was to get back into media since I really loved the industry and thought London would be the perfect stomping ground for it. I left on my merry way all by my lonesome in July 2014. Only a few months I thought I would travel around Europe then eventually settle, work full time and happy days. I was qualified, I was skilled. Who wouldn’t want to hire me? Life would be so much fun living in London and think of all that experience I would get and splash it across the CV.
Some of the plan has since followed through. Not all of it. Here I will outline the reality of it.
I got caught up in the whirlwind of travelling. I had no set plan; I was simply going with the flow and seeing where life would take me. It took me in all sorts of directions! Festivals in Germany, backstage at concerts in Stockholm, exploring medieval cities, bobsledding in Latvia, going to Russia (never would I had pictured that in my wildest dreams), having sauna parties in Estonia and staying in a quaint cottage house in the Stockholm Archipelago. Those were just from the top of my head. I am sure if I was to think really hard and write about all the fun things I did, well expect a thesis!
I was simply having to much fun although I had the niggling thought at the back of my mind to get a job, advance my career, do what everyone else does. I then made it a goal to get to London by Christmas.
I got there, checked it out but wasn’t so sure about it. I then went to Italy to meet with my Dad, and to my surprise, my brother came along. After, I lived in (out of all places) Estonia for three months. Three months that I would look back on ever so fondly. I had always thought about working in a hostel, and I did it and had the best time! Then I left abruptly and then one whirlwind road trip after, I found myself in London.
When I first arrived in London after what was the most exhausting and mentally draining travel day of my life (think delayed buses from Amsterdam to London, shit weather and then other bus issues). I lived on my friends’ sisters couch for a whole month.
While I spent that month on the couch, I was still confused about if I really wanted to base myself in London or not. I have been out of routine for so long. I lived in the most fairy tale place you could ever dream of (Tallinn), and now I am in the big smoke – literally speaking also. From all the times I had travelled across Europe, I kept falling in love with different places I thought ‘Yeah I could live here.’ Those two places still stick out for me as places I would like to immerse myself in – Amsterdam and Berlin because of the cultural experiences it offers.
What I have realised is that I like to be an outsider. Not a loner but I like to feel out of my comfort zone. I have had to adapt to it for so long with travelling by myself and meeting new people. I like being surrounded with people from different cultures. Different stories. Sure London is that multicultural, but I am talking about really knowing the ins and outs of one culture. Places that aren’t familiar to me. I mean London is not a place I know at the back of my hand, but it is a place where I don’t feel special.
I have heard people say it is the place that chews you and spits you out. It is forgiving. London offers so much. It is a fantastic city. Where else on this earth would you come across a city that encompasses so many cultures, walks of life in one place? It has everything.
Want to go to the theatre? Which show? Want to see a live gig? What sort? Want to try Bangladeshi cuisine? No, I much prefer the Caribbean.
Whatever you want, London has it. It has those pockets within the city that you could be forgiven for thinking you weren’t in London at all. Like Kingston, out in the sticks as I would call it. My friend described it to me as a ‘Mini Amsterdam’, and when I went, I actually did feel like I was in my favourite Dutch city because of the Dutch-inspired architecture. Plus there was a Christmas Market to boot like the ones you would find in the Netherlands and in Germany. It is in these insistences; I love London. It has so much going on its plate! Flavours to suit any palate!
But I have struggled. I thought with my flashy CV; work would come by like a breeze. I would feel successful. Have a full-time job in media. People would love me, and I won’t have to worry about money and budgeting that much. It has been really tough.
I entered a job that I accepted because it was there, I was desperate. I hated the job because it required me to do something so unnatural to me (cold calling). I have been on countless interviews, some really good ones but no dice. I didn’t get it – I didn’t have my Rocky moment. I gave up. It was mentally draining and soul-crushing. But then things changed.
With all that said, it helped push me through to doing something I wouldn’t have contemplated for a million years – being my own boss. I still consider it to be a part-time gig, but for the most part, I am happy. London pushed me to do this. It is a city of possibilities. It made me realise the possibilities I could create for myself.
Then I realised something more. With these months I was down, learning how to adapt to a new city, building a new life, a new network around me and kick-starting a new career, I could take on anything. It made me turn into this Godzilla beast that can deal with anything that is thrown at me. I feel like it has only made me stronger, more determined and resilient.
At the start of me writing this, I was going to say that I was lost. But actually, it is quite the contrary. I made a beautiful discovery; I found a passion. I found myself. Out of all places, a place that I don’t feel like I belong, I found the real me.
Destination Soundtrack – London