When I was eight, my mother and I went camping in Three Cliffs Bay in Gower, Swansea. The feeling of the fresh air, the sand between my toes, the sound and excitement of the sea, the natural beauty, the kindness of complete strangers, the small town feel – it really did feel like another world. That was when I first fell in love with Wales.
I lived in Basingstoke, Hampshire at the time and I remember my Mum asking me how I’d feel if we moved to Swansea. I was over the moon! I was sad to be leaving friends but couldn’t believe that we could actually have the chance to live somewhere that was so incredibly beautiful.
I grew up in a tiny village called Mumbles in a road that was only a minute walk away from the beach and peaceful cliff paths. I always seeked sanity through running, it helped me to get rid of excess energy and enabled me to control my emotions, and I would always venture across the beaches and cliff paths when doing it. Swansea was the perfect place for it.
It’s funny though, you always take things for granted when they are right in front of you. I always dreamed of moving to London and becoming a successful music or fashion journalist. Growing up, I always thought that being in London meant that you’d ‘made it’.
However, the reality of this has hit me hard over recent months. I moved to London in January after being accepted to do a digital content and social media internship. I thought that it would be my dream job but quickly learnt that it was not. For me, work is as much about the people that you work with as it is about how much you like the job. I wasn’t happy, felt that I learnt a lot of the skills that I needed and decided that life was too short.
I tried running in Hyde Park, Wormwood Scrubs and Acton Park in order to help me get in control of my emotions again but could still feel the city around me. There is something very surreal about running in a park full of natural beauty but being able to see ginormous skyscrapers and hear tooting horns. It takes the nature and enjoyment out of it for me. The only place I felt truly at home was Richmond Park which is miles away from where I live.
It dawned on me that while there were things that I loved about London – the multiculturalism, never being at a lack of things to do – I felt incredibly claustrophobic. The tube stations at rush hour are ridiculous with absolutely no room to move and no air to breathe and the fact that everyone is always in a hurry baffled me. I understand why London is for some people but right now, I definitely don’t feel like it is for me – it’s so overwhelming, unfamiliar and different to what I know.
Maybe I just need to give it more time and explore the history and art around the city a bit more to have a new sense of appreciation for it. Maybe I feel this way as I’m not going down the path that I expected. Right now however, I feel like a bird trapped in a cage. Life is all about learning – learning about ourselves and others. We are constantly changing.
If there is one thing that I have learnt about my time in London, it’s that I now know that for me to be truly happy I need to be surrounded by nature. I never realised how much of an impact it had on my life until now and I am glad that I went on this journey to realise it. I’ll give it some more time but at least I tried it and now know that the city life is probably not the life for me.