Archive of ‘Adventure’ category

I Saw My 1st London Rat & I Was Really Disappointed In My Reaction

KEEP CALM

I knew that city living would come with many new experiences and at some point I would cross paths with the worst kind of city dweller, rats. I had a plan that when this inevitable experience would occur I would have a cool, calm, and city girl collected reaction. The English are known for their ability to refrain from showing any kind of emotion and maintain composure in all situations. I was determined that I would assimilate into the English culture with my reaction to my first meeting with my fellow city dweller.

What I didn’t expect was that first rat and I would see each other on the 2nd night in my new flat, in a very dark hallway. My reaction couldn’t have been further from cool, calm and collected. Once the rat and I locked eyes a sound came from my mouth that I didn’t know I could create. A squeal doesn’t adequately describe it because it was higher pitched and more pathetic sounding than I know was possible.  My body flung itself into the air in the most ungraceful like position. Arms flailing, legs like they were trying to swim in the air and if I could look in the mirror I am sure that my facial expression was something that only a mother could love.  I’d like to think it was the eye contact that really got me. That rat looked at me like he knew it was my first time and he was going to savor the moment.

After I rationalized with myself that just like a shark, they are more afraid of you than you are of them, I ran up the stairs as quickly as possible and blocked the bottom of my door with a towel.

I was determined never to have that reaction again, so my strategy when entering my flat building after dark became to alert the rat of my presence as early as possible to give him enough time to relocate to his territory. This meant slamming the front door, turning on all the lights (aka turning on the flashlight function on my phone) and stomping in place for a solid 30 seconds. I then proceeded to stomp my way up the two flights of stairs as quickly as possible until I found refuge behind my door. As you can guess, the neighbors love me.

My strategy worked until one night when the rat decided to mix things up.

Every time we saw each other he was roaming the ground floor and with my booming entrance, he would obediently find his way into that little hole in the wall he called home.  Just as I thought I had the cool, calm, city girl reaction down…he appeared on the 1st floor landing in clear defiance of the unspoken agreement of the territory lines that had been drawn.  I squealed like a little girl, nearly fell backward down the narrow flight of stairs and then lost all decency that I had gained from my previous redemption.

It was at this point that I realized I will never be cool enough to have a stoic reaction when I see that long tail and beady eyes, moving around unpredictably across my path.

Of course, once I had come to terms with the fact that every entrance into my flat building at night would include an embarrassing squeal emitting from my mouth, the rat disappeared. I think that once the element of surprise left our interactions he became unsatisfied and left to find a new unsuspecting victim.

To that person, I hope that you find your reaction to meeting my hallway rat is a tiny bit more dignified than mine. To the rat, I hope you never come back again.

 

 

 

It’s Lonely In London

london tower bridgeLondon is pretty lonely.

When I came to London in November, I was living with one of my best friends.

When I came back after the holidays in January, my best friend had moved to Sydney, but I had my dog, Meyer, with me. (I know she is not a person, but she was excited to see me every time I walked through the door and that counts for a lot.)

Now I am back again and I had to leave Meyer back in Florida (she is living a lux life of retirement in FL w/my parents). 

I really am alone and I am lonely.

 

When I walk by a cafe and see a group of girls having a glass of wine, I am flooded with jealousy. I consider approaching them and asking if I can join them. There would probably be a 50% chance that they would welcome me with open arms or a 50% chance that would look at me like I am crazy and intrusive.

The pubs in England overflow into the streets at any day or time of the week. I am so tempted to walk up to a group and say “I love a great beer and watching a good game, can I join you?”, but I just keep walking.

I live on a really popular street for bars, restaurants, and markets. I can hear the world of socialization through my windows as it passes me by, while I stay in on a Friday night.

There is so much to do in London. I wake up each day and there is a flood of ideas of things that I could possibly do. Sometimes I go do them on my own. Sometimes I am lucky to find someone to join me, but my pool of options is pretty small (about 3 people), so I am typically left with the choice between on my own or not at all.

More often than not I feel like I am wasting this opportunity that I have in front of me and it riddles me with guilt and sadness.

 

Making new friendships is hard. I know some people compare it to dating, but I think it is more like job hunting.

First, you have to find the elusive potential friend who wants to make new friends. There are the typical suggestions of where these potential friends are hiding: alumni groups, mutual connections, meet up groups, blah blah blah. I have heard them all at this point, but just because there are 10,000 jobs posted on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean they are looking for you or that you are the right fit.

If you are lucky enough to find a potential friend, cross your fingers that you make it past the initial interview. Do they like you? Do you like them? Are they willing to welcome you into their social calendar?

If they are, you have made it to the 2nd round interview. Now you have to try to convince potential friend that you deserve the job. You might get the temp job, just a surface level friend who gets invited out for drinks or light socializing every once and awhile. But, when you have no friends, you are hoping you get the real friend job and have found someone you can get past the surface level and really be yourself. Without a real friend in this city, you can feel completely isolated and alone.

 

Friend hunting is exhausting. You are constantly trying to find new friends, work your network and get interviews.  When you chase down a potential lead only to have it not come through as you had hoped, you are left disappointed in the time you spent and in yourself.

If the process of making friends wasn’t hard enough, just getting the guts to put yourself out there is a feat in itself. It can take nerves of steel to walk into a room alone, meet a stranger, or do something on your own.

Living with depression, my mind instinctively tells me that I should isolate myself from others. If I hide away then I won’t burden anyone around me with my depression and I can relieve myself of the stress of trying to fake it when I am around people. When the depression is loud, it is a struggle to walk out the front door, but when it is quiet, I tend to forget that it is still there and something that I am feeling is not a flaw, but a symptom.

Right now, I am trying really hard not to give in and hide away from the world even though that is what my head is telling me to do. I am trying to win the friend hunt and create as many opportunities for success as possible and I know that eventually the probability will land in my favor and I will get the job.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I hate to follow my last post with another one that is on the less rainbows and sunshine side of this experience, but it is what is at the top of my mind at the moment. I promise, I have many informative and entertaining posts to come about my life in London.

London Is Kicking My Ass

IMG_9891

London is kind of kicking my ass and last night, it literally kicked my ass.  While walking home on a high street in Hyde Park a man bodychecked me and then yelled “I AM GOD” as I fell to the ground.

Thankfully I was with a friend because I can only imagine how embarrassed and scared I would have felt if I was alone. He is pretty sure that the guy who knocked me down was on drugs, so it wasn’t personal, but it is definitely symbolic of my experience in London thus far.

When I came over in November I was beyond lucky to stay with friends until I got on my feet. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get on my feet and when I flew home for Christmas I felt as if I had failed. I hadn’t secured a place to live or taken any significant steps in the job hunt.

At the moment, I am staying in a long term type apartment. Apartment is a generous word, it’s a room with a bed, couch, and kitchenette. The flat search has been tough because I am battling a few criteria that are proving tough to meet.

  • I am unemployed, which means I will need to put out 3+ months of rent up front.
  • Budget (yes, what they say is true, London is expensive)
  • Pet-friendly (Meyer came back with me after the holidays)
  • A short-term lease (I can’t sign anything more than 6 months bc of my tourist visa)
  • Location (my only requirement is a part of town where I won’t be afraid to walk home at night)

But the biggest restriction I have run into is my own ego and fear.

EGO. My ego has been talking a little too loudly when I look at a flat. One of the reasons I decided to move was to shed the materialism and false idols of “success” in my life. I think both of these feed your ego and inhibit growth. Ridding my life of materialism has been easy. I find freedom in knowing that everything I own can fit into 4 bags. I think that many people believe your home is a reflection of you and your success in life. I have always been a bit of a nester. I like to make my home and comfortable and welcoming place where I can gather with friends.

I think that many people believe your home is a reflection of you and your success in life. I have always been a bit of a nester. I like to make my home and comfortable and welcoming place where I can gather with friends. Problem is that life in London, at this point, is not conducive to my previous ideas of how I create a home. I need to lower my standards and accept that the only thing I need right now is a roof over my head, in a safe place, that allows me to chase the experience and adventure that I came to London for.

FEAR. This kind of goes without saying, but I am just a little bit terrified of how this experience will turn out. The fear of failure is overwhelming. If I find a flat, sign a lease, then this is real and if it is real, the chance that I fail is real. The fear is silent and sometimes invisible, but it is clearly holding me back.

What I need more of is faith. I need more faith in myself that I will find a way to overcome any obstacle. Faith that there is no failure in this experience because having the experience is the success in itself. Faith to remind myself that every time I fall down (literally and figuratively), I always get back up.

 

 

Instead of Getting Married…I’m Moving to London

IMG_7051What do you do when the “plan” you had for your life isn’t unfolding as you expected?

I have always seen my life laid out in front of me like a book. Each chapter is a defining stage of life: childhood, high school, college, early adulthood ( pretending to be an adult) and adulthood. I had read through all these chapters with ease and in general, had positive experiences. I thought the next chapters in my life would be an engagement, marriage, and children. That was the way this book is supposed to read, right?

Time started passing by, but the pages in my book were not turning to the next chapter. Everyone around me seemed to be reading ahead. At first, just one chapter, but soon two and three chapters ahead and still, my pages didn’t turn. I thought if I just stayed still, then the page would turn. I had all the right pieces in place, I just needed to wait for it to happen.

Soon that stillness changed into paralysis. I grew envious and impatient. I started to believe that I was inadequate in some way. I knew all these thoughts were illogical, but the more time that passed, the more I started to believe them.

I had a trip planned to Europe in May and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was terrified that my feelings would ruin my trip. The paralysis was debilitating and my depression was pulling me even further down, but I didn’t have a choice, this trip was forcing me to move.

FullSizeRenderI have always said that when I travel, my soul feels fulfilled. On this trip, I spent my time in Sweden, England, and Italy traveling with friends.  For the last 3 days of my trip, I hiked Cinque Terre on my own. The time alone (and the very long, grueling hike) provided a lot of time to reflect on the experiences of my trip, as well as my life back home. I realized that I felt alive. I felt like my true self. I felt more comfortable in my skin and self than I could remember feeling in a very long time.

I thought about what my life looked like and recognized how deeply unhappy I was waiting for the page to turn. Finally, I realized that wasn’t falling behind as everyone read ahead….I was reading the wrong book.

The feeling of relief at my realization was overwhelming. The self-criticism went away and was replaced with self-empowerment. It is time to pick up my book and turn the page myself.

The next chapter in my life is not marriage and kids.

The next chapter in my book is an adventure.

I have silently envied those who quit their jobs, travel the world and reinvent their life. I have always wanted to live abroad, but anytime I considered it, I only saw barriers ahead of me.

  • I don’t have a job.
  • I don’t have a visa.
  • I don’t have enough money.

What I didn’t see was the barriers that did not exist for me. I do not have a husband, children, or house to consider in my decisions. I do not have major responsibilities holding me in this place. All the reasons I was holding myself back, could be overcome. Instead of looking at barriers to my adventure, I was looking at an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass me by.

When I got home from my trip, I did what every good daughter does, I called my Mother.

I said, “I need to talk to you about something”.

She responded, “What city is it?”

She knew what I was going to tell her. I don’t know how Moms know, but they always do.

I said, “It’s London. I am moving to London.”

I don’t have a solution to the barriers that I listed. I know that they will not necessarily be easy to overcome, but I know it is not impossible.

The point of this chapter in my book is not to succeed, but to try.

I may never find a job. I may run out of money. I may get kicked out of the country. It doesn’t matter what happens because at the end of this chapter, I did it. I went on the adventure. The experience is more valuable than the dollars in my savings account, the break in my resume or the fear of failure.

So, I have quit my job, I am breaking my apartment lease, selling my car, selling or storing 99% of everything I own, and getting on a plane to London. I don’t have answers to all the questions of how I am going to make it all work. I have a place to stay when I arrive (can’t wait to be roomies, Mandi & Stu!) and I will figure out the rest along the way.

I have never been more confident in any decision I have made. I know where I am going and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

So, here I come, London. Let’s do this.*

 

  • “This” will occur in October. Until then, I’ll be knocking down those barriers.