I live on the other side of the world from my family and most of my friends. I am single. I have spent all of my savings. My main source of income is the lowest hourly rate I’ve ever earned. I have to work extra jobs to get by. I pay the highest rent I’ve ever paid.
I should be miserable, right?
Yes, that was hard to write down. On paper, London isn’t exactly looking like the dream life I’ve always wanted. But put it this way: if I was that unhappy, I’d be back at home this instant.
So, why am I still here? What has gone right?
Before we get into that, let me give you some context.
1 year ago, before I left Australia for a 4 month dance contract in Germany, I had already researched “how to get a UK visa whilst living in a foreign country”. By that time I had made up my mind, whether I had admitted that to myself or not. My inner voice was telling me what I most desired - and that was London.
So, why London?
I never told anyone this, but London had always seemed like the next logical step for me. I had evolved from a simple suburban Brissy girl (OK fine, Logan girl) to a Chapel Street Melbournian, then into a much less simple Sydney sider. However, I realised Australia, fantastic as it is, was rather limiting for performers. After travelling the world dancing and coming back to those three Aussie cities in between, I knew that Australia would always be there - and I needed to take every opportunity to live abroad if I was to really expand my potential and in turn, my career. London was one opportunity I had not yet taken and for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a reason not to take it.
This was my third big city move and it was by far the most challenging and equally the most rewarding move of my life. Yes, I knew what it was like to move to a new city. Yes, I knew that the first few months were going to be the hardest. Yes, I knew that I’d feel lonely and miss my family. Yes, I had been warned about the cost of living in London versus the low wages. I was prepared for all of that (well at least I thought I was). What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would surprise myself.
After I finished my contract in Germany, I went travelling around Europe for a month with one of my best friends. We had the absolute time of our lives and it was worth every cent. My UK visa had already commenced and I was planning on moving straight to London. When I was offered a second contract, I felt I could not turn down the opportunity to live and work in Düsseldorf during the summer. London was postponed.
Skip forward 4 months and I was finally in London. I was ready for auditions, I was ready to sign with agencies, I was ready to throw myself into everything. What I wasn’t ready for was running out of money. Which happened. I had to switch my focus and put all my energy into finding more work to get me by. I sent more emails, went to more interviews, signed with more agencies and I worked longer hours. London wasn’t going to get rid of me that easily, apparently.
Next thing I knew, after all my hard work, I had finally signed with a genuine, down to earth and highly recommended Musical Theatre Agent. Jump ahead three weeks and I’m being submitted for roles, doing self tapes, attending singing lessons, working on projects, attending dance classes and am the happiest girl I have been in a long time.
This is why I am here. Exciting things are around the corner. I’ve had to put on the accelerator and try to settle into my London life quicker than the average person. I’ve only had 16 weeks to figure out how to earn enough to not only pay to live but to pursue my craft. 16 weeks to have found the right agent for me who is now actively helping me achieve my goals. 16 weeks to have developed some amazing friendships that I now know will last a lifetime. In less than 4 months I have now fully settled into a new city on the other side of the world and although on paper, it may not appear to be anything special, it has been my greatest achievement to date.
This achievement is not why I am happy, it’s simply the byproduct of investing in myself. If I could offer one piece of advice from what I have learnt about attaining happiness in the 28 years of my life, it’s this:
At the end of the day, happiness comes from you. Not from your job, not from relationships, not from where you live, not from other people’s validation. Happiness comes from choosing to do things for yourself. From listening to your inner voice and following what lights you on fire. Happiness comes from discovering yourself and embracing the person you are becoming. Happiness, at its very core, comes from you.