Finding The Place I Belong

A few days ago, I came across a very simple test that claimed to point you towards the city where you belong. I only pick up on these sort of tests when I’m sleepy, or blocked. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Then I hit the button and there it was:

London.

Tower Bridge, London

Funny, I thought. London and me didn’t kick off very well at the beginning. Then winter came, and I hibernated for almost 4 months. I wasn’t happy at my job, and I wasn’t happy in my apartment either. Actually, I wasn’t even happy in my neighborhood. I took it on London – I blamed the city for my bad mood. The weather, the crammed tubes to work, the traffic and people’s unhappy faces. No natural light and lots of stress was bringing me down.

Spring opened my eyes – I needed a change. I took time to think about what made me feel miserable and what was in my hands to change it. Early summer saw me finally rise again: I had an aha-moment, some sort of enlightening. The only thing in my way to be happy was myself, and, with this realization, everything was suddenly in my hands. So what did I do?

I handed in my resignation letter…
…applied for a short course in Event Management…
…and have started to volunteer at all sorts of events in and around London.

I moved to a new apartment…
…In a completely new neighborhood…
…With a stranger (no so much of a stranger anymore).

And all of a sudden, London has become so much friendlier, warmer and overall better city to live in.

It’s funny how other parts of our lives have such a strong effect on us, that they can completely change the way we see a place. And sometimes, something as simple as moving to another neighborhood can change our whole perception.

Old Street, London

When I first moved here, I wanted to be part of the big city: I pictured myself as a young professional working in finance and living in the trendy east. The place where all tech startups rise. An area known for trendy vintage shops and bohemian bars and cafes, underground music and graffiti art. I thought I would become part of this urban trend – but I didn’t.

I value space over distance, green areas over shopping alternatives and comfort over trendiness. East London is cool and it definitely had it’s advantages, but it simply isn’t the place I belong.

My New Neighborhood in London

And so, I moved to the South West. Here, parks are abundant, people are young and laid back and coffee shops sell great lattes for affordable prices. I have a regular supermarket, I’ve already met some of my neighbors and spend my sundays alternating reading with people watching in the park. I’ve only been here 3 weeks, and already I feel settled and comfortable around the area. I’m even starting to think that I do belong here right now.

Where do you feel you belong at this moment?

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7 Responses to “Finding The Place I Belong”

  1. LaurenAugust 20, 2012 at 3:57 PM #

    Hi Katherina! Lovely post and one I really connected with. I myself am a bit of a nomad and I’ve been struggling with discovering where I belong. In June I left for San Francisco, convinced it was the city for me – I had gotten so angry with Madrid, the unemployment, the lack of innovation, customer service, etc. Then I realized I had created that because my expectations hadn’t been set correctly and I was waiting for my environment to change, not me to adapt. Due to various pragmatic and unknown reasons including, faith, fear, and love, I returned to Spain. The “wherever you go, there you are” is a great reference to remind myself to live in the today, change what I do have control over, and believe that with enough persistence the right “place” will unfold itself to me, or maybe I discover it first.

    • KatherinaAugust 22, 2012 at 4:54 PM #

      Lauren, I completely agree with your words. Actually, it’s so easy to blame external factors for our discomfort… that most of the times, we really do forget that lot’s of it is in our power to change it. I’m glad you made it back to Madrid, with a new mindset :)

  2. MeriAugust 21, 2012 at 4:17 AM #

    Although I’ve lived a few other places and one other country, I’ve always felt Minneapolis/ Minnesota is my home, which is where I am now. Sometimes I wonder about what life would be like somewhere else though!

    • KatherinaAugust 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM #

      That’s great, Meri! There’s just “no place like home” after all…

  3. ZhuAugust 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM #

    We just came back from London and I must say I like this city more and more! The UK really changed over the past few years.

    As much as I enjoy visiting Europe though, I think I belong in Canada. But hey, that’s the beauty of being a citizen of the world, you can fit in pretty much anywhere you want if you put your heart into it!

    • KatherinaAugust 22, 2012 at 4:57 PM #

      That’s so true! Over the years I’ve realized that, as long as I like “the people”, I can be anywhere in the world and feel comfortable with that.

  4. ReaseAugust 24, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

    I have such a bad mental image of London and I have never even been there. My university had campuses all around the world in places like Bangkok, Geneva, Austria, and more, but we also had one in London. Most of the students that chose London chose it simply because they wouldn’t need another language. They’d go and take 1-2 classes which they did terribly in because they drank more than they studied. So for me, London is a party school town haha. I know it’s illogical, which is why I want to see London for myself and get my own impression.

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