Becoming friends with London

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, because my new chapter of moving and living in London didn’t quite start off the way I thought it would. Back story is, my boyfriend wanted to get a work transfer and go live overseas somewhere for a few years. We’ve been together for four years, and had always talked about it but it had always been a distant plan that we had fantasized about which might one day come to fruition. First it was Dubai because both our industries were booming, it was close to Europe for travel and the pay and annual leave was about six weeks! However, when it came to the crunch and we started talking about it seriously, I kinda freaked out a little.

At that point, we literally had the perfect life. I was doing well at work, maybe I was a little bored and not as driven, but overall I was really happy. We had a beautiful modern loft apartment with two bedrooms and a balcony with views of the ocean across Vaucluse and Dover Heights in Sydney. We saw our friends every weekend either having them over for BBQs or going out for dinner or drinks. I was in the gym 5 days a week and ate extremely healthy, I even competed in two fitness model comps, placing in both and felt I was on my way to having the perfect body. Life was amazing but we were in routine, just meandering along and rolling from one weekend to the next doing the same things – month in, month out. Season in, season out. Year in, year out.

friends

When we started talking about it seriously I wasn’t on board at first. I wanted to stay in Sydney, I was comfortable and happy with where we were. Why change something when you’re happy? Don’t people spend their whole lives striving to achieve happiness? My boyfriend saw it as an opportunity to challenge ourselves, and that this was going to be something he would regret for the rest of his life if he didn’t do it. To be honest there was no better time in our lives than now. So we weighed up our options and found that London would be a better fit for us and our travel/career plans. In my eyes it wasn’t a permanent move. It was only going to be a bit of fun for a few years and then we could go back to our Sydney lives. So I took the plunge willingly and got on board.

I was holding onto something that was in turn only holding me back from living my life right now, in this moment.

So, we packed up our bags, said goodbye to our families and friends and got onto our one-way ticket to London. We were only there for a few days before travelling for a month through Russia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania, so I felt like we were on a permanent holiday, it was Ah-mazing!! Even when we got back to London and we had to start looking for places and a job for me I was still in the clouds for the first week, still revelling in post-holiday bliss. Then reality sunk in very quickly!

We were couch surfing for 5 weeks before we could move into our place. We have no money to buy new clothes, my boyfriend was ironing shirts in people’s living rooms and I was going for interviews in crushed outfits that had lived in my suitcase for a month. Job hunting was hard, I was starting to get homesick, stressed about job hunting and so I started eating my feelings. Even worse, I ended up landing a job that turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life, and I stress ate and became addicted to eating chocolate croissants for breakfast (Sydney me would NEVER do that, like WTF was wrong with me!). Then of course none of my clothes fit, and I felt constantly bloated and watery. I stopped exercising, I was anxious, my skin broke out in pimples, I got ulcers on my tongue and my eyelid got some weird rash which I initially thought was a reaction to make up. I cried constantly and would look up at the sky every time a plane flew overhead and I just wished I was on that plane on my way back home, or at least anywhere but here. I HATED London!!

The truth is, I was dealt with a shit hand particularly with my job which now I can see would stress anyone out. Yet the biggest problem on why I was so unhappy, was that I had also built up such high and unrealistic expectations of what London was going to be like. I thought it was going to be easy and that my life would look something like the leggy Pinterest or Instagram models walking the streets in stilettos, camel coats, layered scarfs, perfect blow-drys and a take away coffee in hand. Successful, beautiful, perfect.

Thinking about it now, and actually writing it down on a page has made me realise just how far-fetched your mind can go in concocting ideas that are unrealistic and at times a detriment to your body, your health and your self-esteem. For the first few months London wasn’t fitting my version of perfect, and therefore it had become a mistake coming here, because I just couldn’t accept it for what it was. I was so hell-bent on holding onto my past life in Australia and I was refusing to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of a new city that was right in front of me – that was all left back at home in Sydney and I wanted to go back so badly. But I was holding onto something that was in turn only holding me back from living my life now, in this moment.

So I’ve started a new chapter. I quit my job and now I have one week before starting a new job that will hopefully work out better. This week is a new start, where I want to put on a different set of ‘perspective’ glasses and discover the beautiful little things this city has to offer. I want to spend time with London and get to know it like I’ve just made a new friend. Because you would never meet someone and say, ‘sorry we can’t be friends because you’re nothing like my best friend back at home, so I don’t even want to bother talking to you.’ Madness.