So today marks the one year anniversary of my move to London. The most amazing and turbulent year of my life!! I thought I would write a blog post about it all; the highs, the lows, living alone, what I have learnt, how I have found living in such a huge city... all that good stuff. And as that's a lot, I am going to split it into two simple catagories; the good and the bad. Looking over all these photos was the biggest trip down memory lane, I can almost remember what I was feeling and what my biggest worries were at the time of every single photo here. I know I will always look back on this year as the year I lived in my dream flat in Notting Hill, this incredible neighbourhood I have grown to love so so much. I have felt safe here for a year, loved having so much on doorstep, and loved living in a space that is such a good reflection of 'me'. That all being said, there have been some low points...
Let's get the bad stuff over with first. Living alone is a huge learning curve, and one that has hugely defined the past year and how I have coped with things. When you live alone and work for yourself, it means you are on constant self-motivation with every aspect of your life. There is no one to encourage you to get up and get to your desk, no one to tell you to clean the flat. It has meant that the down moments I have had have seem extra intense because the pressure to keep on doing everything when I don't feel like it is one I can't share with anyone else, and I have to find the drive somewhere to keep everything ticking over. Sometimes I haven't done it as well as I would like, and these moments have resulted in impromptu sleepovers at friends houses and hours and hours spent on the phone to Mum. It's the biggest negative about living alone and working for myself, which is odd because the fact I work for myself and at home was one of my biggest motivations for wanting to live alone too. Still, I wouldn't change it - there are hard moments to be had from flat sharing when you are having a bad time and need the space you can't have, or from living with a partner if idle bickering becomes part of a daily routine. No living set up is without it's imperfections - but living alone has felt very intense at times.
One phrase I hate is 'burning the candle at both ends', or at least I hate it being a negative thing. Of course I totally get why it is, I have learnt first hand that it results in burn out, but I do think it's an essential part of keeping up with life in London. It's a lonely city if you don't make an effort to socialise, and an expensive place to socialise in. It means lots of long days working and long nights out and about - and it does get exhausting. I have definitely burnt out this year more than any other of my life - I have felt like I am running on empty more times than I should have, and refused to give myself and time away from anything until I get ill and am forced too. Still, those moments of hard work and socialising have brought me some of my best memories, so I am not sure how much I wish I would change this aspect.
This year I have been overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with being single after spending six years with someone in something so stable. Overwhelmed with moving to a city I never imagined myself in. Overwhelmed with running a business that I so desperately want to see succeed and grow, and doing this all by myself. I would never describe my job as hard but there are times it has challenged me this year - constantly finding ways to push creatively when there are so many other things going on, saying yes and no to the right jobs while always thinking about the bigger picture. There is so much I want to achieve that often feels far away from me, and but also so much I have achieved that I never thought I would - the main one being that my dream job would pay for my dream flat in London, which leads me onto all the good bits...
Now, if you thought the paragraph about the bad bits was long, just wait for this one because thankfully the past year has been the best of my life. I have fully made the most of being single, self-employed and living along in terms of the endless freedom it gives you. I have gotten up off the sofa at 10pm and got ready for an impromptu night out, traveled back to back with only a few hours at home in-between, gotten blind drunk mid-week just because I can and I don't have to get up for the work the next day. I have worked late into the night with no one nagging me to stop, not mopped the floor nearly as much as I should because it's up to me if I am bothered about having a slightly dirty floor (I'm not). I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone more than I have stayed in it, something I am very very proud to be able to say. I have run a business by myself, organised working relationships, pushed my creative boundaries and constantly tired to improve every aspect of what I do. I have managed a house all by myself, managed a social life full of more incredible people than I could ever ever wish for - and worked hard not to neglect a single one of them (sometimes failing at this). I have become independent enough to know myself, and be able to proudly say all these achievements without feeling any shame - because we should all feel confident enough to give ourselves huge pats on the back some time and not be ashamed to do so.
I have laughed more than ever this year. Big belly laughs that make you need to wee, that are always moments you have to be there for to understand. I have had the best memories with the best friends ever; from simple nights in laughing at inside jokes, to afternoons in the pub that get out of hand. It's been incredible, I feel like I have properly lived and experienced a huge variety of things this year that have made me grow so much. I quickly learnt that I wanted to spend my money on travel more than anything else, that it was the only purchase I could never ever regret. Hence a year of immense travel; Copenhagen, Poland, Italy, LA, New York, Paris, Oslo, Athens, Amsterdam... so many incredible places I have been able to see and create yet more amazing memories from. And to have a job that allows me to do this is endlessly mind blowing - that is something I will never stop saying.
I have really loved having a space that is all mine. There is no way I could live in this flat with anyone else, it's so my own space that even if someone comes to stay I find it a strange feeling. I love having people here and sharing the space, but I think because living here has become so tied with a personal journey I am also really protective over it too. I am outgrowing it though, and have some news to share relating to that very soon indeed. I love the furniture I chose for it all, and I can't wait to see what it all looks like in all the places I will live in the future.. maybe the near future (subtle hints all round here).
I have loved London - the fast pace that used to put me off it is one I have grown to love, and I can't imagine slowing it down anytime soon. I love how motivating the rush is, how much there is to do at any given moment and how it's all about having endless options. I have explored so little of this city that it really does feel like just a scratch on the surface, and I keep thinking I need a month where I don't leave London but make sure to explore a different part every weekend. The people you get to meet is incredible, so many varied experiences and lives, the best word I can think for it all is enriching - so much more than I found living in the North (not meant to be a huge criticism, I love the North so much, but the sheer size of London gives it an advantage for the experiences and opportunities it presents). It's a city that I never felt drawn to before, but right now I can't imagine leaving it anytime soon.
All in all, it's been the most incredible year - and there is so many things I haven't even touched on here. Please ask some questions in the comments and I can do another post answering anything else you want to know about the past year - I get a lot of questions about living alone, and as I said that has been the defining factor of the year really - just the way that things have been a very 'solo' venture which has been such an experience. One I know I am not done with yet, one that I will always look back on, and one I am sure will shape me in ways I don't really know yet.