After 6 months of planning, life-admin-juggling and stress eating, I am finally here in Brisbane. I had been decidedly unhappy with the weekly slog of London life, despite being comfortable in a stable career in Digital Marketing. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and variety the City offered, along with the people I had the pleasure of working alongside, but decided it was time to stop day-dreaming about following my heart and force my head to follow suit. I have always had a creative streak, my university and work notebook doodles are testament to the fact. However, despite enjoying art at school, I took the conventional route of a degree which led to a graduate scheme and subsequently into marketing. The dream became a well-loved hobby on the side, with small forays into the creative world whilst working with design agencies as part of the day job.
Fast forward to May 2015 and my daily central London commute meant I power-walked past hundreds of advertising campaigns on a regular basis. Soon I realised I was regularly walking past a particular poster which caught my attention – ‘Shillington College’ and their course to become a graphic designer in 3 months. Although the college also runs in Manchester and London, with the cost of rent, these were off the menu. However I’m lucky enough to be a British/Aussie dual national with my family living in Brisbane and, as it turns out, 20 minutes from the Shillington Campus. Suddenly there seemed to be a little glow of excitement; perhaps the crazy idea of escaping the Big Smoke to chase the creative dream could be a viable option.
Needless to say, moving to the other side of the globe is not as simple as that split decision on the Underground. What followed was months of squirrelling away savings and prolific planning. In one of Europe’s most expensive cities, I became a keen Aldi shopper, voracious pre-drinker, scrounger and would-be hermit. Whilst juggling a particularly busy period at work, I organised the international shipping of my belongings, battled with a crooked landlord and agency and filled out mountains of government paperwork. Student loan payments were to go on hold, tax documents to be chased up and plane tickets took a sizeable chunk out of my savings.
After 5 months of waiting, I sofa-surfed my final few weeks in the UK. It’s hard to summarise all the thoughts that went through my mind in the last few days. I felt happiness to be leaving a stressful part of my life behind, blessed to have such amazing people in my life who were supporting my decision and excitement about what was the come. However, alongside the cheerful butterflies was fear about the risk I was taking, sadness about leaving those amazing people behind in a different time zone and anxiety about whether I was going to be up to scratch. I finally boarded the plane at Heathrow on May 12th 2016, with 3 of the most important people in my life waving me off for the next chapter in my life.
In the 18 months I lived in London, I learnt a great deal about myself: Grey skies make me fairly miserable. After 5 years of contact rugby, my ideal (injury-free) lifestyle lends itself to the touch version of the sport. Being unhappy in a job never means you are trapped; you are always in control of your own destiny. I have an unhealthy relationship with dates and peanut butter. Whilst one of the challenging parts of living in London can be the sheer number of people living there, it is those people who help you retain perspective and remember who you are. Running long distances is a mental battle most easily overcome with the right playlist. Men’s H&M jumpers are both flattering and comfortable. Most people will experience trouble with their mental health at some point in their twenties, yet very few will talk about it. It is always best to talk about it.
The main thing I’ve learnt however, is that while life-changing choices are terrifying, they are ultimately incredibly rewarding and a necessity if you’re the soul-searching type. Therefore my advice comes in the form of a sage quote from Baz Luhrman, ‘Do something each day that scares you’. I promise, you won’t regret it.