You're moving where?...But...why?
Some people need to feel pretty crappy before they make a change. I think I’m one of them.
To explain why I decided to quit my life in the UK to start afresh in Denmark, I first need to take you back several years to when I started university. Full of confidence, arrogance and sticky sweet aspirations in equal measure, it’s no exaggeration to say that as I head off to university, I pretty much thought I could take on the world. I decided to head to London for my university life, certain that was the perfect melting pot for me to make something of myself.
Turns out, it wasn't to be.
On paper, my university life and onwards was a success. I got a First from a leading university, I was accepted onto one of the most competitive graduate schemes, I had a great bunch of friends and I was – to all intents and purposes – settled. The problem was that I was pretty broken. Four years at university had all but destroyed that headstrong girl that had made her way, bleary eyed into the Big Smoke. I was self-conscious, sad and anxious. Like, all the time. I’d look around me at what others were doing and hurtled myself head first into a life that didn’t make sense to me. One where money, job titles and how quickly you could buy a house became the most accepted definitions of success. I stopped caring about the things I loved to do, and started focusing on the things I felt obliged to do. I was furiously paddling my legs underwater to stay afloat, but the truth is I’d just totally lost my way.
After university I went and worked in a prestigious and uber secure career for the Civil Service. Again, on paper, life was sweet. Problem was, I could have quite easily mapped out my entire career right up to my retirement and it was terrifying. At 24 I felt like I had already trapped myself in a trajectory that I couldn’t see a way out of.
I’m not a very ‘take the long view’ type of person. In fact, I’m about as impatient a person as you’re likely to meet. If the Hare and the Tortoise was a real-life analogy, I'd class myself as the Hare on crack. In normal circumstances that just means I'm really proactive, however in the unhappy working life I found myself in, it meant that the two years it took for me to find the cross-road I needed to side step into something new felt like eons. As in, I literally started sprouting grey hair during that time.
But, as I came to the end of my second year on the scheme my cross-road came in the form of a six month placement outside of Government with an EdTech accelerator called Emerge Education. It really is no overstatement to say that these six months changed my life. I was swept into an entirely new environment that totally shifted my horizons. Suddenly I realised that the reason I was so lost was because I’d eliminated anything remotely creative or expressive from my life entirely. I had become a human box-ticking exercise. From the first week I spent at Emerge, I knew that I would never go back to my old life.
Before the end of my placement I had handed in my notice in Government and took a huge career change to become a UX designer. Finally everything started to feel like it was moving in the right direction. To use Sheryl Sandberg's jungle gym analogy, I'd taken the hugest of side steps, but despite that, for the first time in my adult life I felt like I was moving forwards.
It feels pretty fucking good now to admit how unhappy I was during that time. Like, seriously cathartic. I look back now and see so clearly how I don’t (and more importantly, can’t – grey-hairgate…) live my life and it feels so good to acknowledge that it’s fine to go against the grain. What seems ‘right’ on the outside usually does so because it’s the safest option. Jobs, money, life – we make decisions right now for the people we’ll be tomorrow. We want to protect future us, and in doing so let the present pass us by.
All that is a really long-winded way of explaining why I decided to uproot my secure life in London for the relative unknown of what lies ahead in Copenhagen.
Don't get me wrong, my head is filled with the possibility that this might all be a giant mistake. I have visions of me stepping foot into our new flat and thinking, "what the hell have you done?!". I'm scared to leave my family and friends, worried that I'll feel lonely, nervous that not speaking the language (...though I am learning!) will mean I'll never quite fit in. But these are all giant unknowns, enormous flashing neon 'what ifs'?.
The things I am certain of are:
- Copenhagen is my favourite city on earth;
- The thought of moving there has made me feel more excited and ‘me’ than I have done in years;
- If it all goes tits up, I can always come back
When I think about it rationally, I realise there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I’m really excited to be able to share my experience of starting a new life in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen with you. The plan is to write openly and candidly about the highs, the lows, and the bumps along the way in the hope that it will inspire you to both visit this beautiful city, and to challenge yourself to find your own adventure when life feels like it's throwing you lemons.
Write soon! In the meantime, feel free to get in touch or follow me on social media.