London is a city that seems to have been designed to be negative. The gold, the grey, the damp, the rain…the Northern Line. All the elements, natural and man-made, seem to have been put there in order to make living here the least leanest experience possible. Yet despite these trials, millions and millions more every year flock to the city in search of…something.
I just realised it’s been over 3 years since I first arrived from these shores, freshly broken from a disastrous first attempt at a full-time job in Gibraltar. Thinking back in it, I’ve lost some of the shine that that 24 year-old had. The feeling that anything could still happen, that London was yours for the taking. That you could afford to live on Zone 1.
3 full-time jobs, 3 homes and at least 3 heartbreaks later, I think I’m trying to re-discover who that person was.
When we begin to lose that shine of youth, is it growing up or just becoming bitter?
Londoners wear their cynicism like armour. We need it. Christ knows the odds are not in our favour. When you take costs, economic downturns, assholes running rampant with no warning signs and all the other things we face on a day to day basis, before you get into the hellish commute, it’s a wonder any of us find the ill to leave our beds in the morning.
But then I think again. In London I’ve made awful mistakes, both professionally and with men, but I’ve come to terms with myself. I’ve met amazing friends. I’ve been able to explore sides of me I never thought I would get to. Sides I thought I’d have to keep locked away in my mind forever. It was the final act of defiance to run away from the backward, sheltered country life I knew and taste more of what life had to offer. Or what I thought it should offer, anyway.
So, since its been three years, what 3 lessons have I learned?
Lesson 1: The power of friendship.
When I first came to London, career was all I thought of. I was obsessed with making my mark. As an actor, an editor, whatever. As long as I could create myself into something, I would be happy. Or so I thought. I had been betrayed by friends all through my adolescence, so didn’t really set much store by them. Now I realise that there are truly wonderful people out there, if you let them in. And on the road of life, you’ll need them.
Lesson 2: Be active.
It seems so obvious, not to just drift by and let life pass you by. The problem is, in London, there’s a whole lot of life barrelling past you. But you have to grab the strings you want and hold on. You have to innovate and add your own flushes to it. Work, life, relationships, you have to make them yours and create them your way. When you find yourself moving from desk to bed, change it.
Lesson 3: Try it.
You’re in one of the greatest cities in the world with everything at your feet you could possibly want. Why just go home and laze on the sofa?Try something new. Meet fresh faces. Embrace it. Embrace it all.
London may kick you up the arse sometimes, and kick it hard. But at the end of the day, I suppose all I can do is raise my iced latte and say “Here’s to another 3 years”.