Why London wasn't for me, but I'm glad I lived there

In August 2015, I packed my bags and moved to the big city.

Just over two years on, I'm happily settled back up north, in beautiful Chester.

My London journey was a complicated one. A lot happened, and it really challenged me. However, out of those challenges and out of the many great things that happened whilst I lived there, I know I learned an awful lot about myself.

Why did I move to London?

For those that know me, and certainly those that knew me at the time of moving, the move was unexpected! I had been spending regular time in London both with work and socially and I think I got swept away in the excitement. Couple that with the fact a job opened up at a company I had admired for years, and it seemed like the time to take the leap.

I honestly think another big part of the motivation was exactly because of that fact it wasn't expected of me. I had spent years putting myself in a box of what I thought I wanted, what I thought made me happy and what I thought made me comfortable, and I suddenly found myself with the confidence and freedom to do something completely different.

What went well?

I had done something far out of my comfort zone. When I first moved, the confidence boost was pretty huge. I'd be amazed that I could jump on and off the tube daily and that I was living in the city people talked about and dreamed about.

I was right in the middle of the most incredible theatre scene, which I definitely made the most out of, and I was living what felt like a sort of 'rite of passage' - the period of working in London in your twenties.

I really enjoyed my job and I met some pretty brilliant people, at work and outside of the workplace. I had shown myself that there was a world beyond just the place I had grown up in, which for a long time I think I had forgotten.

What went wrong?

That's something I've discussed in plenty of other posts and there's so much of the story still to tell. I'm not ready to tell certain parts of it yet. But the short version of the story is that, through 2016, my mental health started to deteriorate again and in June I found myself in a very bad place. I found a counsellor, I started to improve, and then an incident happened to me outside work that confirmed a lot of my biggest fears at the time, which before that had been 'irrational'.

I left London because I had to. I was not ok. It was overwhelming, it was too much, and I was ill. My mental health was in a bad way and I needed to remove myself from the busy city and all the other elements of my life there and spend time at home with family, focusing on getting better.

Writing about that period now seems like I'm writing about a different person. But that's the reality of what happened and the place I was in when I did leave the shiny, exciting big city.

So, why am I glad I lived there?

Despite the fact I didn't leave London on the best of terms, I know for a fact I learned so much from my time there.

I worked in a job alongside people I greatly admired.

I soaked up the theatre scene.

I spent time with people I care about deeply.

I proved to myself that I could do something different.

I broadened my horizons to a world outside the one I had been living in in the years up to my move.

The journey of healing in the months since leaving have taught me more about myself than I learned in years beforehand. I have become stronger, healthier and happier and I'm ready to move forward with my life with all the new things I've learned.

Living in London gave me a confidence boost in the early months, and it shattered my confidence in my final months. It showed me a world beyond my comfort zone but it showed me there are also ugly elements to that world. It taught me there are wonderful things about the city and there are things that are the opposite.

Temporarily, the city broke me.

Or did it just give me the push I needed to actually address the underlying issues when it came to my mental health? 

Did it just accelerate a path I was already on? 

Realistically, my problems had been going on for a long time before the move and I had never properly dealt with any of the causes. What happened to me last year was hitting rock bottom and being forced to realise I needed proper help.

Things needed to change in a drastic way.

And they have.

And I'm happy.

Sophie x


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