Today I’m sharing a little bit about my trip to London so far: the good, the bad, the messy & the beautiful path to following your gut and traveling alone.
Oh man (think that’s my favorite way to start a post, when I know it’s going to be a doozy).
I debated for a while if I wanted to talk about this trip on the blog at all. I debated whether it would bring you enough value. I debated whether anyone would care. But I realized sharing my story is my strength.
I, and so many others, learn through story. Yes, reading a listicle can be helpful, especially if you’re just trying to digest some quick information. However, it’s not the only way to learn and understand. I know that value doesn’t just come in the form of “How to do BLANK in 3 Easy Steps.”
Hearing someone else’s experience can unlock truths for you, as it often does for me. I’m hoping this experience might resonate with you. I hope it helps you think about what planning, adapting and embracing opportunities means in your own life.
So how did I get here?
For those tuning in at home, you might be asking yourself “wait, why is she in London?” And maybe this is your first time reading the blog and you’re probably even more confused, “wait who is this chick and I guess why is she in London?”
Allow me to explain
When I was living in Boston two years ago, I started feeling really depressed. Things were fine on paper, but I felt suffocated and isolated in my own life. I could tell that something had to change. I had this crazy realization that, in fact, I could literally do anything with my life. Which led to the question: so what do you want to do with your life?
Honestly, the only answer I got was… London. *for a little context, I was born in the UK (so I’m a dual citizen), grew up in the states and studied abroad in London for 4 months in 2013*
My first thought was, ok, well that’s going to be expensive. I knew if I tried to save enough money while I was still at my job at the time, it would take forever. And then the dreaming and scheming began. I decided I could move home to save money and work somewhere on Nantucket. I would save enough money for 3 months of expenses and try to find a job during that time. Worst case scenario I could always come home.
Then 2016 Unfolded
I went home with a heart full of excitement, but a pride that was a little bruised. At first I was wrapped up in the stigma of moving home at 24, but I quickly learned that literally nobody cares. And if they did it, I really didn’t care either.
I worked and I blogged, but something surprising happened. Each day I became happier and happier. Rather than feeling like I was reverting back to my high school self when I moved home (something I feared), I had found an atmosphere of growth.
And then, like I mentioned in my 2016 Expectations Post … I fell in love.
It’s been wonderful in so many ways. It also sparked a lot more personal growth than I ever could have imagined. My preconceived notion about love was that it caused partners (and especially women) to lose their identities. I’ve always been so determined to be my own person, that I didn’t realize how much a relationship could teach me and allow me to grow on my own, too.
I was blissfully happy. My hometown felt fresh and exciting… but wait…
… what about my plan?
What about London? The magical city I fell in love with four years ago. The whole reason I quit my job. If I still went, I’d be leaving behind this man I loved so much. If I didn’t go, I was afraid I’d live with that regret forever.
So I bought a return ticket
No, it wasn’t this bold act I had imagined, the “one-way ticket.”
I had to come to terms with the fact that there are no right answers, just paths. I had made this perfect plan that needed editing. So really it wasn’t perfect. There was no way it could have been, because reality turned out to be so much better, and worth editing the plan for.
I turned to my favorite quote that I reread whenever I’m about to, or have just made, an important decision
“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.
The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.” – Deepak Chopra
January 11th approached rapidly. That night I stood in the security line at Logan airport with puffy, tear-streaked cheeks watching my boyfriend slowly walk away, turning back every couple steps to wave.
I asked myself “if I’m so happy, then why am I leaving?” (a little late to ask this question… I know)
and wait, what am I doing here?
Have you ever worked so hard for a goal that you kind of forgot about what you were going to do when you got there? It’s like finishing a race, you stop and wonder… wait, now what?
Moving to London was a bit like that. I was so intensely focused on making enough money, trusting that this destination would bring me some kind of enlightenment once I got there. But I realized that as I changed my plans I didn’t really tune into why I wanted to change my plans.
As I settled into my flat, I came to terms with the fact that…
I don’t have a goal for this trip
I was so obsessed with getting to London that I forgot why I wanted to even go. Does that make any sense? If you’re confused, join the club.
So I don’t have any “goal” for this trip. Being a former goal junkie this is completely out of character. I’ve always been a striver, a hustler, a hunter. But I’ve felt this shift, from wanting to achieve something into wanting to enjoy each day as it comes.
I’m taking it one day at a time
So for once (in my life?) I’m trying to take it day by day. There’s no agenda. No milestones to check off. No S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve. What does successes look like for this trip? I can’t wait to find out. Honestly. I know that sounds crazy, especially if you are or have been a goal junkie. But I have this weird gut feeling that I’m going to learn about myself and why I’m here as each day passes. I realized I didn’t want to set arbitrary goals for this trip or force an agenda just because I felt like I should have one.
Things I am Afraid to Tell You About This Trip
Traveling alone is lonely
The thing I probably have the most anxiety, fear, shame around is meeting new people. I want to build friendships while I’m here, but it’s not easy when you’re starting from scratch. I love spending time alone, but not all the time. I’m not drawn to bars or clubs or trying to force myself on people. I also don’t want to treat making friends like it’s a goal to be achieved. I want to meet people because I want to, not because I feel like I’m supposed to. So I’m trying this thing where I’m just being super friendly and seeing where it goes. (I’ll let you know)
Being in a long distance relationship is way harder than I wanted it to be
Yes. I knew that being in a long distance relationship was going to be difficult, but I couldn’t have predicted how it was going to feel until we were actually apart. I tried getting advice from a lot of people, but in the end I realized, I didn’t want to force any arbitrary tactics on how we communicated or how I felt about it. A part of me is also managing the guilt from feeling like I left someone behind. And the complicated feelings of realizing maybe I don’t need to be as independent as I thought I was supposed to be. Another piece of me is incredibly grateful to have someone I miss so much.
I already changed my plans
My pride told me I should stick to my original plan, which was supposed to be 4 months. But I’m coming home a month early. (I thought) I didn’t want to be the kind of person who has to change her plans. But my gut said that it was ok. Traveling doesn’t have to fit into a cute shiny package. It can be messy and complicated and frustrating and challenging and still be immensely rewarding. I knew deep down I didn’t have to be away for that long, which ultimately was a beautiful gratifying feeling.
But on a really bright note
I seriously don’t want you to think that I’m miserable over here. Yes it’s been challenging in unexpected ways, but with those challenges come lessons, that I needed to learn my way. I truly love London. It’s so beautiful and there are magic moments and spaces around every corner. I’m in this tiny, bright studio apartment that’s incredibly central. I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go. I really hope if you get the chance, you’ll visit. Oh and there are amazing coffee shops all around me.
I feel really awake
Maybe this is what people refer to as being mindful or present, but for me it feels like being awake. Ironically I’ve been sleeping in super late (hey the sun doesn’t rise until 8 over here), but that’s not the point. This might be part of the nature of travel, but being out of your familiar surroundings means your brain is taking in so much new information. I also feel more in-tune with what my body and mind needs each day. Sometimes it’s being in my flat working and sometimes it’s just picking a neighborhood and walking around all day.
I’ve only been gone for 3 weeks, but I can already tell that this trip will teach me so much and bring me joy in unexpected ways.
What does this mean for the blog
Nothing’s really going to change. My goal is to always provide you with content that helps you put more joy and happiness into your healthy lifestyle. I just wanted to share a bit of my travel journey as it’s been teaching me a lot of interesting lessons that might spark something in you. As always, I love your feedback because it helps me focus and create the content that you need in your life.
I also just love hearing from you in general. So even if you’re not into commenting (totally ok) drop me an email or DM on Instagram or however you like to say hi. I really really really appreciate you being here and sharing your time and attention and life with me.
With love from London,
ps. I made an instagram account for my travel photos if you’d like to see more @alittlelostinlondon