When I left London at 11, I remember it being this magical city of possibility. This place with unlimited options, sprawled across historic landmarks and ultra-modern architecture. Until recently, it still felt like home.
I lost love for the city where I grew up
Every year, I would count down the days until I could fly back and spend time in this place where I felt I could be myself. In my first year at university, I would go back whenever physically possible. Many of my best friends from school study here, and soon, I was able to share my favourite place with them.
However, as I began my second year, I slowly started to fall out with the only place that felt like home. What once used to be a rare experience is no longer a rare luxury. Sitting by the Albert Memorial, exploring unfound areas of Camden and Shoreditch and roaming the high streets slowly became this monotonous activity. With my growing love for Leamington and the suburban life, I lost love for the city where I grew up.
it is impossible to ignore the countless success stories and happy endings
As you spend time away from the city, you slowly realise that this place of opportunity is not as picture perfect as society makes it out to be. Very few first-time job seekers are able to make ends meet in the city-centre. Compared to other places in the country, it is almost impossible to plan for the future.
Slowly, even the mere train journeys into London became anxiety ridden. Compared to other places, the people felt more rushed and colder. That idealised version of the city slowly disappeared into this grey, artificial image, enclosed and trapped by the same ultra-modern architecture that I used to dream about.
the city itself hasn’t really changed
At the same time, it is impossible to ignore the countless success stories and happy endings you see in this sprawling melting pot of cultures. You can’t ignore the ability the capital has to unite people from countless backgrounds. Spending so much time in such an international city can make us so much more appreciative of the uniqueness of every individual.
Whilst I don’t regret any of the time I spent dreaming about this city, I think it is clear that over time, the London dream is no longer what I aspire to. Even though the city itself hasn’t really changed, my perception of it, and perhaps what I would like to experience in the future, have transformed.