London, My Healer...

By Lucy Harbron - 15:59

Shoes: ASOS (here)
It's hard to imagine the girl that got on the train and moved to London just over two months ago, the girl that wholeheartedly believed she couldn't do it and cried way more than she smiled. I don't know her anymore.

When I moved I was the saddest I've probably ever been. I felt shattered, reeling from unexpected, brutal heartbreak, and trying to process and prepare for a huge life event in the eye of a hurricane. I felt overwhelmed and all I could do was cry while everything was spiraling around me. My mum asked the question again and again in the days before I moved; 'are you actually going to be able to do this?' Well, I did.

In the midst of the pain, I didn't want to hear peoples words of encouragement. I shut my ears each time someone told me London would help or said I would come back changed so much for the better. And if I have one regret about my time in London, it would be spending so much of it so sad. I lingered in the loss for several weeks, going through all the motions, mourning, crying a lot, working through it all. And while I know it was necessary and healthy, and I know I still managed to experience so much and live fully in that time, it's annoying that I spent so long with tight lungs and a knot in my stomach.

But everyone was right. London did help me, and one of the things I'm most proud of is managing to adopt the city into my self-care routines. I allowed myself to shrug off the pressure to always go out and be busy, and let myself have down days. And London made it so easy for me, there's always something to do, but at the same time there are always places to hide. Hackney Wick became my favourite haven. So much quieter, people walking slowly, it was a rare area of calm not too far out of central. Taking my laptop, walking until I found a coffee shop and just sitting, quietly and alone, for hours gave me the space I needed to process things without isolation. Once I started to adopt the city, I stopped feeling like I was drowning. Once I stopped saying I was lonely each time I was alone, I stopped feeling it.
Top: ASOS (here)
Bag: ASOS (here)

I was never alone anyway. I can say now that I'm so thankful for that heartbreak. Without that pre-move panic and pain, and my vulnerability forcing me to make connections, I wouldn't have met so many amazing people and I don't think I would've been as emotionally available to them. It's weird, I have best friends that I had never met 10 weeks ago.

To name one, Natasha. What would I have done without Natasha? When I was thrown into the deep end, Tasha was a lifeboat, forcing me to come out for a drink to celebrate my arrival, and forcing celebration on me my entire trip. Having a friendship that was instantly so accepting and open, was an absolute savior. Without becoming too cringe, I'll never be able to thank Natasha enough for being by my side, and I'll always remember the summer of kinship as we were both figuring it all out as we went along.

The women I met saved me, they reminded me that I was doing well, took me out, stayed in with me, and made me have fun when I still left so smothered. I was the most social I've ever been and I'm so in love with everyone I met, and so inspired by them.  Alice, Char, Holly, Emily, Amy, Tina, Ellie, Evie, Rufaro, all the girls at work, my fellow interns, and all my friends that came to visit. I was never alone, and I feel more loved and supported than ever. Cities can be daunting, you suddenly become so small in comparison and it's easy to feel alone in the crowd, but when you see it as an opportunity, it becomes one.

As unrealistic as it seems at the time and no matter how much you hate people for saying it, you have to wait out for healing and you'll wake up okay one day. I don't remember exactly when it was, but by mid-august, I was waking up happy. I was aware that I was having fun, able to celebrate myself, breathe easy. When my best friend Sophie came to visit, I felt changed and she noticed it. I was excited about life and the future, I wanted to go out and do everything and see everything, I desperately wanted to make up for lost time. I realised when I was showing her around that I felt assured, I knew my way around, I could navigate the tube without a second of worry, the word anxiety didn't cross my mind. But even more than that, I felt confident in myself. Obviously working in fashion is such an echo-chamber, you see the most out-there outfits day today so nothing is too much or shocking. But now, I'll go out in whatever I want without a second thought. My favourite things to wear have become some of my boldest pieces; my snake print coat, my pink and red clash top, my denim boilersuit etc. My outfits of black and navy have ended up further and further back in my wardrobe, my trainers have been swapped out for mules and heeled boots. I stopped caring about overdressing, and starting indulging in my love for dressing and curating a look and a character. I bought bigger earrings, colourful eyeshadows, each thing getting louder and louder. Natasha pointed out last week that my wardrobe has become a testament to my growth, I'm 10x the person I was when I arrived and I've got outfits to prove it.

The anonymity of London does so much good. You can wear what you want, go to a club and dance as ridiculously as you want, singing with your friends walking down the street at 2pm, sit alone in a cafe, mess about on the tube, no one cares. The city is so busy and so shocking that the freedom is endless, no judgment and hardly even a second look. I loved that, and it's an attitude and a confidence I'm excited to carry forward, even if I'm leaving behind my dance partners.

And the city lets you have fun, like so much fun. There's always something to do and I tried to do it all. Shows, gigs, clubs, parks, museums, galleries, shops, parties, press events, cool neighborhoods, restaurants, bars. I tried to do as much as I could, and I only missed two things off my list; bikes in Hyde Park and seeing a show at The Globe. But I have no regrets, it's just an excuse to go back. And I'm going to work so hard to go back.

London was healing. Two months down the line, I don't recognise the girl I was, crying in cafes and feeling helpless. I feel renewed, stronger and more confident than ever, and that spills over into every part of my life. My work ethics, my drive, my clothes, my friendships, my actions. Everything is better now. I'm better than ever.

I'm so heartbroken to have left and said goodbye to my job and my life there. But the main thing this experience has given me? Fire. I've got a new spark burning away inside me, ready to power through final year, get back into my work both academically and creatively, work hard, have fun, and get back to my city. Soon. 

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