London. Almost 9 million people. Smaller than the massive 20 million of Beijing where I grew up, but without a support system and family, London can seem very BIG and can make you feel very small.
When someone asks me where I am from and I explain, the response I dread hearing every time I return the question is “Oh, i’m so boring, I’m just from X” …cue the awkward reassurance of “no no, it’s just different”.
On one hand, Third Culture Kids are so lucky to have grown up the way we did: we’ve travelled, experienced cultures and made lots of international friends from all walks of life. On the other hand we have nowhere to call “home” (not the way others really mean it with their childhood bedroom and the house they grew up – can you tell I’m a tiny bit jealous?), we can move to places where we have no existing support system and just be expected to find our way or fit in.
Now, even just moving to that place without an existing support system is a massive achievement. How many people do you know that went to uni in a completely different country, let alone a different continent than where they’d grown up? Maybe only your international friends, maybe other friends too, but regardless, that is huge. So give yourself some credit.
In my experience, London is what you make of it. You may not be lucky enough to have all your childhood friends, your family, your college friends, your uni friends and your colleagues all in one place (God, wouldn’t that be awesome??) But you do have the power to make London home.
I’ve done the 15 hour Netflix binges (OITNB, amirite?) and I would probably say that it didn’t really help me in the journey of making London home. But I’ve counter balanced it with doing the things I love, and pursuing my hobbies. I totally still love a Netflix binge, let’s be real.
Have you ever heard me mention MeetUp? The chances are probably yes (I should bloody work for them I talk about them so much). It’s an app where you can join groups of people doing activities. Hiking, photography, cycling, walking and fitness boot camps are some of the things I’m interested in. But if you like public speaking, great you can do that. Languages? Yes. Charity volunteering? Yes. Gaming? Yes. Drinking? Yes. Foodie? Yep.
You get the point, someone somewhere in London likes what you like. You just haven’t found them yet. And let’s be real, are you going to find them whilst on your 15 Netflix binge alone in your room? Probably not. (Ruby Rose doesn’t count as much as I would have liked her to).
So for all the people over the last couple of days who have told me that they feel lonely in London, that find it hard sometimes without their support system here, that they want to get out and do stuff but don’t know where to start, just go out and do what you love – at least 1 of the 9 million will love it too.