I fell in love with London the first time I ever visited. Well, actually on second thoughts that might be slightly incorrect as the first time I visited I was 7 and coming to see my pony compete in the Horse of the Year show and actually I was so overwhelmed with how huge everything was and so shocked to see so many homeless people that my sheltered countryside upbringing had me feeling all kinds of strange.
When I visited as an adult however, I fell in love.
There’s something about the bright lights, the constant hustle and bustle, and the motivation of large crowds of people all going somewhere and achieving things that just gets me. London will never quite be on the same scale as New York when we’re talking about cities that changed my life (also New York has Gossip Girl and therefore Chuck Bass so…) but it has definitely played a monumental role into making me the person I am today.
Rewind to five years ago and quite honestly I was a wreck. I’d been really poorly and my anxiety disorder had first reared its ugly head. I had only just come back from a weekend away in London – the first of many as an adult – and that weekend was a bright beacon shining whilst everything else went to shit. For a little while, I held mild anxiety about going back as my troubles only began a few days after returning home from the trip, but once I visited again for my 21st birthday in my head London became a safe place.
I struggled to leave the house for a long while and holding down a job was nigh on impossible. It was only when I secured my first office role in a very understanding company that I began to find a reason to leave the house again, and then I found blogging and between my career and this little space on the internet I began to flourish again and so did my dreams of moving to the big city. Since my 20th birthday, London had been firmly set in my head as the place I wanted to end up. I knew my career goals would never be achieved in the little hometown I grew up in and I yearned for somewhere bigger to explore, somewhere oozing with opportunity and inspiration. For three years, I worked solidly not just at my job but also at getting my mental health to a place where I could cope with a move to that scale and finally, a few short weeks before my 24th birthday, I finally moved.
Now in between 20 and 24 my anxiety had hit peaks and troughs. It was much better when I lived at home, but became much worse when I moved to Manchester and lived on my own, and worse again as I started to hate my job and living situation. I moved home for a few months before my big move down here to save some money for my rental deposit and living costs and it gradually became easier again, so I moved in a much clearer headspace. Only a few weeks after moving however, my ex boyfriend (who was from London) broke up with me and my head hit a downward trajectory again. Fast forward a few months and I’d met Joe, things were on the up and I was mostly very happy but then with changes to my pill and the issues with my hormones that I’ve had ever since, my anxiety seems to be getting gradually worse.
Throughout it all though, the good days and the bad, my confidence in London and the strength the city has given me has never wavered. Even on a bad day, I love nothing more than exploring the city I now call home. Nothing calls to me quite like a winter evening in the city does, with the bright lights shining and the nightlife moving around me. London definitely makes you stronger as a person if it lets you, and the biggest, most fundamental lesson it has taught me is not to give up. To survive in a city this size there has to be some form of selfishness – the fight to get on the train is a minor one, the fight for career opportunities slightly more important (but weirdly no less intense – honestly if you’ve never before experienced trying to get on a rush hour Northern Line train at London Bridge station you aint seen nothing yet).
London has taught me to never stop fighting to achieve my dreams, to find inspiration in the smallest thing, to enjoy every moment even when your head is trying its hardest to fight against you, to make the most of (fairly) good transport links and the ability to go anywhere, to find beauty in the mixture of architectural styles, to break out of my comfort zone and explore new areas. London has taught me to be more fearless even when the fear is taking over, to not take no for an answer, to stay motivated 24/7 and perhaps most importantly of all, to not let my anxiety win. Not now, not ever.
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