Deja View: History Repeats Itself

In 16 days, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary of my move to London. In an attempt to be positive, note my use of the word “celebrating” rather than commiserating. If you read yesterday’s post, I Should Have Been A Cowboy, then you will know how things have been going just this last week. In it, I spoke of the toughness of London and what a difficult and lonely place it can be to survive. Sometimes I ask myself why I’m putting myself through this when I could be living back up North, nearer to my family and friends. But as much as I love them, I don’t see myself living up there. London is the only place I have ever lived outside of my home city of Lincoln (not counting the six months I spent studying in the States), and at this point in time I cannot see myself living anywhere else in the UK. Anywhere further North the weather is too bad; anywhere further South just doesn’t have the opportunities that London does.

So, back to my one-year anniversary. Why is it important to mention this? Well, 16 years ago I was faced with another one-year anniversary. In this very same city. Back then I made a decision which would change the course of my life. Funnily enough, I’m experiencing rather a case of deja vu. So children, if you’re sitting comfortably, let’s begin.

Imagine the summer of 1997. I had just turned 19; a few weeks earlier I had lost my virginity to a one-night stand and was desperate to experience more of the world outside of Lincoln. A friend had recently moved to London and started working as a receptionist in a hotel, so I went to visit her for the weekend. Long story short, this shy 19 year-old made the move to the capital. I still remember the first night I moved here. After my parents had left, I was alone in my room in the basement of one of the hotels my employers owned. It was a small, dark room, with a view of nothing but concrete outside. I cried and cried and asked myself what I had done. As time went on, I made friends and started to explore. I worked as a hotel receptionist for nine months, but it was clear that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of job. I don’t deal well with conflict and being a receptionist in a busy, touristy hotel was like being on the front line of a war zone. Everyone wanted to complain about something, and there was only so many times I could tell a honeymoon couple that they would have to sleep in separate beds because the hotel had no doubles left.  I then got a good job in a city law firm. While I was a glorified messenger, I got paid well and was able to move to a double room rented by a woman just off Brick Lane. While she was initially quite friendly, soon she just stopped talking to me, and we avoided each other in the communal parts of the flat, which were the kitchen and bathroom. At work I really didn’t like my job. While it was fairly easy, taking documents to investment banks for signature, I felt out of place among all those professionals. I worked in the Banking and Capital Markets department, and didn’t really understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. The stress of the job and of the flat took its toll. I had been in the job for two months, on a three-month probationary period, and had signed a six-month contract for my flat. I had promised myself that I would stay in London for a year. I began to think that I would never be happy here, and with my one-year anniversary approaching, I took the decision to leave.

Two things happened after I did this. My landlady agreed to let me out of my rental agreement four months early, and I had a meeting with my HR manager who told me that she could have found me a job in the typing pool had I told her that I wasn’t happy in my job as a paralegal. What I should have done was found a new place to live, and a new job as a typist, and given myself a chance to prove myself here. But I didn’t. I had already told my family I would come home, and didn’t want to disappoint them. So I went home with my tail between my legs. I temped for a while, and after a couple of months I started working for the NHS, the organisation that would become my employer for the next twelve and a half-years.  Two years later, I met the man who would become my other half for the next ten years.

Then the next Great Escape began. I don’t need to go into all that here, because if you’ve read my previous blogs then you already know that story, and if you haven’t, why not take a look at my previous blogs 😉

So here I am. 2014. 1998. Work issues. House issues. Deja vu. This time I will not go home. I am determined to stay here until London gives  me what I want. A career. A relationship. A home. A social network.  I’ve had 16 years of experience since I left the last time. I know that if something isn’t working, then you work to change it. If a bad situation isn’t getting any better, then you have to get out of it. I can look for a new job, one which suits my skills better; one where I won’t be criticized for my writing skills (of all things. Really??!!). I’m not sure about the house situation, because there are a lot of factors out of my control. I cannot just up and leave. But I will not be beaten by this beast. I let it beat me 16 years ago, and I won’t do it again. There is always a way out. No situation can stay that way forever. Things must change. If I can make the effort to change, maybe London will work with me, rather than against me.

This didn’t start out as a musical blog.  But I’m feeling the vibe now.  And who better to underline my point than the King of Pop himself, Mr Michael Jackson.


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