I’m hurtling north on an empty train via London’s Underground, willing my fingers to match the speed of my thoughts as I’m transported across the city.
Even after 16 years of living here, there are moments when I still feel a little thrill to call London home. It’s been the most difficult and infuriating place to live – and I feel as though I’ve lived several lives during my time here – but it’s also been fabulous fun and the place where I grew up, learned to lean into my life and came to know the true depths of my heart and soul.
London…the city I left my beloved country and family and friends for, I moved here to follow a dream. Things didn’t turn out how I imagined they would and what I’ve learned is; things rarely do.
I certainly didn’t expect to be here 16 years later, and the truth is I’ve always felt a little like I’m just a visitor passing through.
Then last December I discovered something I thought was going to happen this past spring – something I’d been holding onto for over a year – wasn’t going to happen.
I waited for the waves of disappointment to wash over me when I received the news; but they never came. Instead, I felt this deep knowing that I was exactly where I was meant to be. I wanted to be on the move, but The Universe (or whatever you choose to believe in) was telling me it wasn’t time, it was more important that I remained still.
I didn’t truly understand why at the time, but now it all makes sense because I can see if I’d gotten what I thought I wanted, I wouldn’t be making the future plans I’m making now. I wouldn’t be in the incredible position I find myself in today. At the end of last year, I still had some important lessons to learn before I could move on.
For the past two years, I’ve let June freak me out. It was June when I left my corporate life and the anniversary always puts me in a panic. Each year I start thinking I ‘should’ have achieved/done so much more and I’m not moving fast enough. I begin comparing how far ahead everyone else is/how far behind I am and I start thinking I’ve missed my opportunity to be and do so many of the things I still want to be and do.
Whilst I know none of these things are true; in the moments when those thoughts come to me, they still feel painful and real. And for the past two years, I allowed those thoughts to bring me to a virtual standstill, not just for a month, but for the better part of the remaining year.
I decided this year would be different. I decided I would own June. This wasn’t about resisting; it was about sinking into the difficult feelings and no longer trying to skip the hard parts. So, I stopped resisting. I showed up and did what was required day-after-day, no matter how hard it felt to do so. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I kept my heart wide open.
As a result, something bloomed inside me. I became a bolder and brighter version of myself than I’d ever allowed myself to be previously. I also came to see that all the ups and downs of the past four years and the oh-so-many-mistakes weren’t there to test me; they were the exact lessons I needed to learn in order to reach the place I’m in today and to move forwards with confidence.
I spent the evening of Summer Solstice with only my journal for company. I flung the windows open and turned some music on and I sat with myself and let my feelings wash over me; I felt a longing for all the things I still want to be and do but I also felt freedom and happiness and a sense of peace that only comes when you pay attention to where you are right now, rather than always looking ahead. I needed to learn this; learn how to be still and to sit with myself and all of my feelings.
Yes, I still get restless. But I’m no longer restless because of a desire to escape my circumstances or myself. I no longer want to leave pieces of myself behind.
I make plans. The Universe laughs and changes them. And I laugh too, because its plans are always far better than anything I had in mind.
© 2017 Esther Zimmer