Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Exodus London

jonathan-chng-7_WyzplsaSE-London skyline from millennium bridge

Long-time, no post. I haven‘t been much active on here for a while, cause life got pretty much in the way and I had to sort out a few things. The major news though is the same:

I have left London. Four years of city life and six in total in the UK are officially over.

How do I feel about it? I don‘t see it as a permanent Good Bye... more like a break really.

An indefinite break for now, cause I have no idea what will happen in the future.

The last time I lived in London was in 2006 and it took me 10 years to move back for a second round. In those ten years, I was occupied with my academic career and never wasted a thought about moving back to London. Hell no, I had everything I wanted back in Germany. My career was on track, I had my own two-bedroom flat, owned a car and in general, I felt pretty happy and fulfilled with my life. London was never on my radar, ever.

Though there was always the feeling of wanting more - but I couldn't really point my finger to it what exactly "more" was. It happened in 2013, that I packed my stuff and moved to the UK. First to Bristol, then followed London in 2015.

And I was naive and overconfident enough to think, that I could easily walk into London with all my "amazing" achievements, the world would instantly love me and I could take off like a shooting star. Spoiler alert, none of it happened.

Professionally, I didn‘t get as far as I wanted to go. I don‘t want to share too many details here but an innocent incident at work defined the rest of my London time. London turned me into a version of myself, which I never knew existed and I could ever become. I was suddenly miserable, unhappy and listless. Dreams felt shattered and I lived from month to month without actually enjoying my life anymore. There were countless times I wanted to end my London life and throw in the towel, but then I pulled myself together and "got on with it".

However, just when I thought I was back on track, another WTF moment came along and I had to start all over again. One step forward, three steps backwards.

tom-parsons-the london underground

It was a very stressful time and no matter how hard I worked or tried to make it work, it was never good enough. I was never good enough.

It broke me, it broke my relationship and at the start of 2018 I was alone. I could have easily packed up my stuff and returned to Germany, but my competitive side didn‘t want to give up just yet. I wanted to prove something to myself. That I can make it work on my own. That I didn‘t need anyone in my life to be happy and I am very much capable of looking after myself.

Two years went by. Every day I found the energy to keep going, "make it work and never give up" kept me motivated - but in reality I ran against a wall over and over again without noticing. At some point I did notice....when I started to get a headache from it and severe panic attacks on the tube. Add in the catastrophic political situation, the low-quality jobs and the prospect of never progressing personally. It was a circle that I no longer wanted to be a part of anymore.

Earlier this year, I decided life needed to change. I applied for jobs in Germany and handed in my notice for my flat. None of my applications were successful but it just meant that Germany was not just yet the place to return to and settle in permanently. Other options needed to be explored of which there are plenty out there in the world!

I‘ve been reading a lot of self-improvement books and have been working on myself as a person. I realised, I can‘t continue my life in London as it was and I desperately needed a break from it. A break to regain focus, a break to recharge batteries, a break to tune in with me and get guidance again. In the end, I need to go where my energies are reciprocated and where I will find a job in my chosen field – experiential marketing.

The defining incident at work involved someone, I may have fallen for. Or fallen for a daydream fantasy, cause I don‘t know him that well. All I know is that I wanted to be in his life somehow the moment I met him. He left work in 2017 and I was too cautious to reach out because of the drama stirred at work. He was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. So I got on with my life, went on solo trips, met up with friends, spend hours at the gallery, applied for new jobs, worked out, went out to nice restaurants, took a few classes to get certificates, worked on myself, read lots of books, even tried to forget about him with another guy…. But all of that only gave temporary distraction. He was always on my mind, sooner or later. It took me two and a half years to build up enough courage to finally contact him. We even met up, which was probably one of the best lunch breaks I have ever had in my life – only to run into a dead-end again and hit another wall.

david-marcu-summer evening in london soho

My final days in London were pretty emotional, not gonna lie here. Accepting the rejection and dissapointments of the past and admitting I had failed were a hard pill to swallow. Leaving close friends behind because life in London came to an end was also not easy to cope with. I felt overwhelmed, unstable and cried most of the time. I wanted my expat life in London so badly to work out for me and it was tough leaving something behind which I had built up and invested in emotionally for six years.

I organised my move to Germany, dismissed my flat, visited a few places which I really wanted to see before leaving, met up with my friends for a final time (for now) and spend the evenings crying together. I'm not a huge fuss maker and refused a proper leaving party, cause ideally, this is just a break and not the end. My intentions are to return to London one day once the political situation is more relaxed and I have explored other options in life. There is so much more out there, things to learn, cultures to explore and lifestyles to adopt that I'm ready for something else.

I met up with only a few people, the few gems which I truly care about and which have made my life in London a great experience and journey together. And I was angry with myself that I messed it up with him...

Long story short, I didn‘t get the job, I didn‘t get the guy and now it‘s reset button time. The only thing London did give me though, were true friends and friendships which will last for a lifetime. No matter what will happen, I know there are people who care about me and would love to have me back in London - which is a nice, reassuring feeling that I didn't fail at one thing during my time there.

For now, I‘ve moved home to my parents for a bit to regain focus and get grounded again. I‘m slowly starting to feel better and „myself“ again. Taking the time out to focus and work on myself is something which I need and it will do me good to explore other options in life than the London grind. Next week, I'm going to Spain to do the final 100km of the Pilgrimage camino - an experience I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm also looking at continuning my expat life but this time on a bigger scale. Also my Australia plans from 2017 are long overdue so I'm looking at the moment how to best organise the trip. Ideally I can get a permanent job but if it is not happening for the New Year I can always have the option of travelling for a bit.

I know my potential and what I'm capable of and London just wasn‘t the right place for me. Just because London didn't work out doesn't mean somewhere else won't. The life lessons I‘ve learned are invaluable and who knows maybe the experience in London prepared me for something even bigger and better?!?
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