I’ve noticed a flurry of people escaping the bright lights and broken dreams of London recently, myself included. They’ve all got their own reasons, from being fed up of unpaid internships to wanting to live somewhere cheaper or simply feeling they’ve lost the love for the place.
I can relate to all of these reasons, and most of the others I’ve read too. However, I also knew when I left that, wherever I moved to, there would be things that didn’t live up to ‘London life’. However, I’ve been surprised to find what parts of the big city I actually miss.
1. I shouldn’t miss my one hour commute
Most of the time, the carriage was too packed to read or even reach into my bag for my music. Instead, I’d just sit and stew in the warmth (and sweat) of other uncomfortable commuters. Needless to say, I hated it the tube, but now that I think about it, it was one of the only times I just sat/stood and thought. My commute was actually my ‘meditation time’, albeit a fairly awkward place for it. Also, who doesn’t love the tube seat race when the doors open!?
2. I shouldn’t miss grumpy people
By the end of my day, I had always been rudely barged or snapped at by someone. London, and I probably most capital cities, is seemingly packed with grummy people. I was one of them, of course. In fact, I still am one of them, that’s the problem. In London, I spent most my time moaning about how rude and moody other people were. Now, outside of London, I think I’m that grumpy person that people moan about… Oh, how the tables have turned!
3. I shouldn’t miss overtime
I hated sitting at a desk all week, desperate to escape on Friday. And, I hated being asked to stay ‘a bit’ longer every time we finally reached the weekend. I couldn’t stand not being able to have enough time to go home and ‘fulfil my dreams’. I used to daydream about all the stuff I could be doing with all those extra minutes of work. Now, outside of London, I have never been asked to stay longer after work. I have more time, I have no excuse. It’s a scary thought that technically nothing’s stopping me… That busy schedule and overtime excuse would be really good right about now.
4. I shouldn’t miss the night busses
Being the only sober person on a London night bus, heading slowly away from the safety of central to the shifty suburban areas, can be scary. On the other hand, those busses always came with a good story or a memorable overheard conversation.
5. I shouldn’t miss my tiny flat
Oh, Bethnal Green flat, what a sh*t-hole you were. But, I miss that sh*t-hole! There’s something strangely wonderful about five people living in an apartment the size of a shoe box. Everybody I knew in London was in the same boat too. If anything, we were competitive about how ridiculous our living quarters were! Admittedly, this is a time in my life that I probably wouldn’t voluntarily return to. However, it’s an experience that I hold very close to my heart. It came with bonding, compromising and a new perception of ‘personal space’. Whether the latter was for the best or the worst is another matter…
6. I shouldn’t miss networking
I couldn’t stand the idea of meeting people just to climb in my career, mainly because I wasn’t very good at it. Now, I realise why networking was such a great thing about the city. London attracted driven people; creatives and idea-smiths were always easy to find. Yes, it was competitive but there was always someone like-minded to help you. Outside of London, creative, inspiring people are still everywhere, but they’re a little harder to find!
7. I shouldn’t miss busy streets
Oxford Circus used to be my idea of hell on earth. I would try my best to power-walk through crowds of shoppers – for some unknown reason – and growl aggressively at anyone that dared to stroll casually in my path. I also ran up and down the escalators at high speed. In fact, if tube stations and the streets of London were on ‘Muppets Race Mania’ then I would have won everytime. Now, I don’t rush much anymore and travelling just isn’t the same.
8. I shouldn’t miss sharing the struggle
I say this in the most privileged sense of the word, so, forgive me! Seventy percent of the people I met were about my age, from somewhere outside of London and also trying their best to build a career for themselves. It was nice having people to share the struggle with. Now, I’m away from that life I feel like I’ve fallen behind a bit. Alot of the people I know have steadily worked their way up in a career and now they’re successful! Outside of the capital, the companies and places I’ve worked at don’t mean much, especially when my role was often essentially ‘coffee grabber’. I’ve got some catching up to do.
9. I shouldn’t miss telling my story
Where are you from? What do you do? How long have you lived in London? At the time, university parties were a host of repeated conversations. It began ot get boring pretty quickly, but then I suddenly got proud of what I had to say for myself. I don’t know when it happened and I’ve now idea why it happened either. I just started to have some pride about my roots that I never had when I was living in my hometown. I liked to tell people ‘how far I’d come’, how I’d ‘conquered’ the tube map and I became prouder of my northern accent, desperate not to let it fade away.
10. I shouldn’t miss Boris Bikes
Or should I? We had a love hate relationship that I’ll probably never come to terms with. They were pretty handy, even if they were the hardest things ever to steer.