It has been 14 months since I waved goodbye to the moss-green carpet and grand Victorian fireplace of my Leyton studio flat.
Just over a year since I gave up my independent, cosmopolitan lifestyle as a full-time journalist to become a self-employed country girl with her own family (albeit a family that’s only 50% made up of humans, but whatevs).
It’s been a weird ol’ transition, and one that I wrote about quite a lot at the time, because OMG THIS IS SO NEW AND REVOLUTIONARY, and now it’s just who I am. It’s become part of me.
But within the past few weeks, I’ve started to doubt my own skills and talents, my own happiness, my own decisions and my own way of life.
Y’see, the internet, for as brilliant and innovative as it is, is also the source of much pain, misery and comparison. It makes me wonder if the whole blogging path has been a serious misjudgment on my behalf, if actually, the path to my greatness is based in an office somewhere in London.
Nah, like, but for real. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, over and over again.
I slate a lot of websites and magazines for their inability to keep up with the demands for content – for creating features and galleries and stories better suited to 2011 than now. But there are so many that are nailing it, and so many that I feel like I could grow with.
Online publications that need a 2015 spin, a 2015 spin that I can get passionate about creating.
I’ve been doing one day a week at NowMagazine.co.uk (and when I say that, I mean, I did one day last week and will continue to until Christmas), and that one day, sat in an office that wasn’t thwarted by crying kittens and clothes that needed washing and Instagram-stalking other bloggers, felt like absolute bliss.
A fresh environment with real people to bounce ideas off. A place where I could write without fear that the internet would judge me for my words or my weight or appearance or blog design.
A place where there is no comparison.
Of course the grass is always greener, and I know, I KNOW, that if I was to jack the whole full-time blogging gig up for a 9-5 journalism job in the capital I would probably cry myself to sleep every night.
I would be tired and I would be sad, because my work wouldn’t be my baby, my project, something that I’ve nurtured and built up from scratch entirely by myself.
I would feel defeated. I would feel like I was waddling back with my tail between my legs because I wasn’t good enough to conquer the internet on my own – when I know that I can. I absolutely CAN.
Currently I go into London once a week (aside from the Now mag gig). I arrive after rush hour, and I walk into this crisp city air and I breathe it in and I feel so inspired. I feel alive and like the world is running with possibilities, like I can do anything.
I feel motivated and new.
I’ll hop between meetings and then plant myself in a Pret with a green juice and write to my heart’s content. And I’ll feel pretty sassy and fly and independent and like I’m nailing it.
And then maybe I’ll have another event and then I’ll whisk away into the night on the Abellio Greater Anglia train bound for Ipswich, and we’ll roar past Westfield and I’ll see all those inspiring city lights disappearing behind me.
And I’ll feel these mixed emotions. This part of me that feels sad that I am leaving the excitement and glamour that comes with being in a city like London, and this peace and contentment that I get to experience the best bits and then leave with my sanity intact.
Because that’s the thing about London, it can kinda bleed you dry for all you’re worth.
It’ll leave you exhausted and weepy and struggling with your bank balance every three days because FUCK, did I really send £40 on Pornstar Martinis last night? Blah.
And I know how lonely and cold it feels when you’re actually living there, rather than visiting as a fleeting guest. So I know that to return would ruin me, because my mind is in so much more of a healthy place now that I’m living away from it.
But still, it lingers in my mind, this whole wondering ‘what if?’.
I don’t know where my writing future lies, but I have a sneaky suspicion it’s not back in London working for someone else, trying to convince them that I know the answer to internet domination.
I think it’s here. In Ipswich. With my computer and my dreams and ambitions and my boyfriend and my cats.
It is here with my own blog space, my own creativity and my own real-ness and relatability coming through in my words.
I just need to learn to step away from comparing myself to others. I need to learn to almost treat my blog like another platform I’m writing for, rather than as part of me. So that when people criticise, or when I feel myself looking at all the collaborations I didn’t get, I don’t take it as a personal attack on me – I see it as something that happened to a website, not me, Hannah Gale.
Because my blog doesn’t define me and it shouldn’t define my brain and my happiness.
I am more than my blog, and the moment I realise that, the moment I’ll be free of the weird emotional restraints I’ve built up around myself over the past year.
So yes, not living in London is all my dreams come true – I get the family I’ve always wanted and the house and the slower pace of life that doesn’t make me fear a mental breakdown every 3 minutes, but I’ll still always be questioning what my life would look like if I hadn’t left.
Questioning where I could be journalism career-wise if I hadn’t given it up and gone running for the rolling green hills and my relationship and a life away from London.
And here’s the spoiler: Wherever it could be, and whatever ground-breaking, successful things I could be doing on paper, I don’t think mentally I’d be in anywhere as near a good place as I am now.
Thanks Ipswich for helping to make me <3