Three years ago I found myuself in something of a rut. I’d just taken redundancy from my job, I’d just come out of a relationship and I was getting itchy feet. So I found myself a Masters degree at the other end of the country, packed up my life and moved down to Brighton. I had a few expectations and plans for while I was there. The Masters would help me shift my career in a new direction, it would be a good place to build up my freelance career, the music scene was one of the best in the country, and it would be the perfect opportunity to push myself past my boundaries and tackle my anxieties face on.
Sadly, that’s not quite how it went. Right from the start I ran into problems. For a start, I had nowhere to live. I viewed several places and the in the end I had one option, which was a bedroom in a shared house that was way too small for me. My music suffered as I had no space or privacy to practice. On top of that, the Masters I signed up for quickly revealed itself to be an expensive waste of time. I was paying thousands of pounds to follow some YouTube tutorials. Work was going ok, but there were certainly times when I wasn’t making the money I needed to live in such an expensive city.
What’s more, the anxiety that had previously kept me from crowded places and long journeys started to take its hold on my life. No longer having reasons to go out of the house for work or to see friends, I started to become isolated. My comfort zone shrunk to the point where I would practically break down at the front door just thinking about going outside.*
For a while I was in a relationship, and it was good, but then that too came to an end and after a year in the city I was starting to make plans to move back to Sheffield. But I had a tenancy contract that would keep me in my house for another 6 months, and I felt that while I was still here, I should make the most of it.
And that’s how I met my current partner. We quickly grew close and by the time I should have been moving away, instead we were making plans to move in together. And we did. We got ourselves a beautiful flat, we made it our home. We went on trips together to see where we’d both come from.
But it all came with a looming problem; my partner would eventually want to move back to Germany. I went back and forth about how I felt about this. My anxiety certainly didn’t give me any encouragement about going with her, but I knew I didn’t want it to be the end of us.**
What should have been a home for 6 months became a home for a year-and-a-bit. We got comfortable. I gradually got therapy and started to get over my anxiety. And just as I was starting to feel like this could be a good home, the world fell apart around me, around everyone. Suddenly I was someone stuck in a flat on my own (my partner was temporarily back in Germany) hiding from a global pandemic that my health anxiety did absolutely nothing to help with, and miles away from anyone I felt close to.
Not long after she returned, my partner started making plans to move. It was now time for me to make a final decision. Do I stay, or do I go?
If I go, then I’ll face a challenge like never before. Learn a new language, in a new culture, rebuild my business, make new friends, completely rebuild my life from the ground up and face my anxieties and fears any time I wanted to travel back to see friends and family.
But the alternative had almost all of the above. I’d have to move out of this beautiful home, probably wouldn’t be able to stay in Brighton, I’d have to find my feet again but most importantly; I’d have to do it alone. That last part in particular didn’t bear thinking about.
Make no mistake, leaving Brighton is not something I do willingly. Sure, I’ve had some bad times here, but there’s still so much to get from being here. I mean, just look at it.
I mean, just so many stunning sunsets
So many beautiful sunny days.
And even on cold windy days it’s beautiful.
This one’s getting framed for sure.
It’s just so hard to walk away from something I feel I’ll never be able to have again. I wanted so much for things to work here, and it kills me that it just didn’t, and now it won’t.
But, I guess love trumps all. This place would be nothing without her here with me. Hamburg seems like a great city with lots to offer. And maybe a challenge like this is exactly what I need to push further out of this hole I’ve dug myself into. And besides, surely anywhere is better than this lump of rock that’s so determined to ruin itself.
So it’s time to move on, to see what’s waiting for me across the sea…
**See ‘The Moon and the Sea’.