About five days ago I moved to Berlin, continuing my theme of vagabonding rather than settling. In the last three years, I’ve lived in San Francisco, Kenya and now Berlin is my home. The first two were both unforgettable and life changing, so I hope this meandering remains as positive as it has been.
At this stage in life, probably just short of the looming familiar responsibilities that tend to arise in one’s 30s, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity for this exploration.
At times I’ve envied others whose businesses and relationships have gone from strength-to-strength. At others, I’ve figuratively pounded my itchy feet in the dust of freedom and lived in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if things had gone ‘to plan’.
One thing is for sure, I’ll never regret these last few years, even if I’m far from where my younger self imagined I might be and I suffer a fair few lonely evenings.
Although my new business is based in the UK, the nature of the work (almost solely phone-based) and my desire not to get sucked into London life, means that Berlin offered a inexpensive, accessible alternative.
Yet the changes haven’t been without strain. Starting a new business on your own is difficult. Really difficult.
It requires the dedication to get out of bed each morning and to self-motivate, even when there’s little other than your wavering self-belief to keep you at your desk. In an industry like mine, where you rely on just a handful of contracts each year, it also means you can spend many months working hard before your first cheque arrives in the mail.
It is an unsettling time – leaving you unsure whether it will be next week or five months down the line that you start to see tangible results. It involves trusting yourself, your offering and the process enough to keep you motivated. Sometimes, the insecurity can get a hold of you, but you have to persevere and push through the self-doubt.
My decision to move to Berlin is questionable. It could further exacerbate the feeling of alienation. In London I have friends, family and a home. Surely when you’re working alone and hard, it’s good to be around those who can support you?
This line of thought holds some truth. Yet there’s also something to be said for spicing up one’s environment and enjoying new perspectives to keep things fresh.
Certainly it’s possible that I won’t be able to enjoy the city as I might if I were here to study, or simply to learn German. That’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make.
Yet the benefit is that at the end of each day I can reward myself with something new and different. Being in a new place, there is a lack of community, but there is also a chance to learn on every street corner and meet new people.
I have no idea how long I’ll stay. At the moment, I’m committed to spending a couple of months and seeing how this vagabonding goes, and to try to make it work for the short-term. Who knows, the short might extend into the long.
All you can affect is the present.
POSTSCRIPT – I realise I’ve recently meandered into navel-gazing rather than simplicity tips for you, dear reader – so I will make an effort to try to add the existential with the practical. More to follow and I promise to be less of a curmudgeon about London and life in the UK (as one reader noticed – negativity isn’t the way). I guess after Africa you sometimes see things with fresh and alarming perspective.
Thanks for all your kind thoughts, support and wishes. It’s a surprise to me how many people actually read these ramblings.