When I started this blog, we lived 30 minutes outside of London and in a relatively urban town. Callum regularly commuted into the city and we visited London on occasion for drinks or dinner. Therefore, the blog title ‘From Seaside to City’ fittingly encapsulated our move from deepest South Devon to (relatively near) the City. However, as we bought our house and moved further away from London, and I became even more rooted in my mindset that city-life isn’t, and will never be, for me, the blog title didn’t really seem to make much sense. Sussex is clearly not ‘the city’ and is more like Devon than London. We both love the countryside and our lifestyle is formed around long walks, muddy boots, horse-riding, country pubs, the seaside, and dogs. I don’t like built-up areas, driving, nightclubs, pretentious bars that are really only serving as Instagram-backgrounds, or tubes. ‘From One Part of the Countryside, to Another’ is a much more fitting blog-title, but I’ve already paid for the URL, so it’s staying as is.
Anyway, the point is that I never saw London or ‘city-life’ as part of my identity. In fact, I very firmly rejected the idea that I would ever be somebody who regularly worked/socialised/spent time in London. It just didn’t fit with what I enjoy or how I like to spend my time. So, when I recently created my yes/no criteria for a job-search, working in London was one of the first to go into the very firm ‘no’ list. My beliefs were along the lines of: ‘Doing that commute will make me miserable.’ ‘I don’t want to be part of the rat-race.’ ‘I’ll get claustrophobic in between all those buildings and people and traffic.’
My preferred vision was to somehow find a small, family-owned company tucked away in the middle of the Ashdown Forest (preferably with stables on-site), who’d somehow require a Talent Acquisition Manager and could happily pay me the salary I was after. It sounds more like the start of a story-line than reality. Obviously.
I was rudely awoken from this fantasy after one phone call which highlighted that I wasn’t going to have my salary expectations met anywhere outside of London, and no, the Ashdown Forest is not a hub for companies growing so fast they need people to manage their hiring for them. Back to the drawing board.
Reluctantly, I spoke with a few large London-based firms. These calls reiterated my beliefs on working in the city. Tubes. 10-hour working days but ‘fantastic earning potential’. 90-minute commutes each way and one day a week working-from-home. No, thank you.
I spent weekends scrolling LinkedIn, reading monotonously similar job ads. Is there just one person who writes all job ads for all Talent Acquisition Managers? Are my job ads this boring?
Until… Does this job ad mention ‘quirks‘? Does it specifically say they want to speak to people who have a blog? That they celebrate individuality and what makes us unique? That they’re a Danish company, offer full flexibility over working schedules, and have a Head of Hygge!?!?
Ding, ding, ding.
They asked for a cover letter. I’d been inspired by the informal and colloquial tone of the job ad so thought I’d give something a whirl… Authenticity is what I was looking for in my next role, and I was only going to achieve that by being 100% authentic myself. So, I didn’t write about transferrable skills, or previous achievements, or performance. I wrote about why an open, honest culture is crucial for me. I wrote about loving reading, psychology, my cat, and sobriety. They’d either love what I’d written, or think I was crazy.
A response less than 24-hrs later thankfully confirmed it was the former, and each ensuing interaction with my soon-to-be colleagues affirmed I’d made the right choice with this company. Only snag? Their UK office was – you guessed it – in London.
Hum. Decision time.
It was here that I learned that it’s ok to change your mind. Having a (really strong) viewpoint at one stage in your life doesn’t mean that viewpoint has to stay that way forever. I REALLY wanted this job, more than I didn’t want to work in London, but not so much that I was willing to make myself miserable if it wasn’t right. Thankfully (and I definitely believe this is the stars aligning for the right role. Thanks, guardian angels), the commute is one direct train from where I live (not even one single tube), and the office is in a beautiful, traditional building that almost looks a bit like Hogwarts from the outside. I’m in the office 2 or 3 days a week, with complete flexibility on the hours that I work, and with total trust to work in the way that’s best for me. I use the commuting times to work, study or read, and I really appreciate the countryside around me when I get home.
I’m yet to explore much of London, and, despite the nice commute and the pretty buildings, do feel overwhelmed by the large crowds of people and the buildings and the traffic. But, I’ve re-wired my biased viewpoint: not all of London is frantic and modern and stressful. There is tradition and history and quaint pubs and huge libraries for me to unashamedly enjoy exploring. It’s a big place. I can find parts of it that work for me.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to change your mind based on learning new information, and that it’s freeing to have your perception of the world change. This experience has helped to remind me that I see the world entirely through a lens curated for, and by, me, and that I can constantly update and adapt this lens to see the world in new, more knowledgeable, and better ways.