Long time, no see.

Hey there. Guess what, I am finally back from a few months of silence.

As you all know, in November last year, I moved to little old New Zealand and have been rather busy with settling into my new life. So, after that eerie period, I’m dusting away those cobwebs to write this piece.

It’s funny how you very quickly settle into a space you know so well. I grew up in New Zealand, in my small town aside the ocean, and to be reunited with it after 4 years came easier than expected. Before I left London, I always got the “it’ll hit you after a while, you’ll miss the hustle of London.” – well, I’m here to tell you, I don’t.

And honestly, I don’t miss it at all. I thought I would; miss the traffic, the busyness, the cafe ridden streets, the atmosphere, but I simply don’t. However, the one thing I do long for, is hangouts with my cosmopolitain friends; the work pals; I met some of the best people in the world in London; I just don’t long for the place itself.

This did come as a surprise to me. I expected myself to struggle with small town living at least for a little while, to regret ‘giving up’ (for better the word) London for a simpler way of life, but I’ve come to realise that New Zealand kinda suits me. I thrive on exercise, and fresh air, and devour outdoor spaces. I’ve caught up with old friends, explored new places, rediscovered my love for cooking and creativity, joined a band; the open space of New Zealand, has allowed me to fill it with more fulfilling activities. There’s something special about this country, and I cannot wait for my London-made friends to come and visit me, so I can show them too.

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It definitely takes leaving a place, to find the appreciation.

It’s cheesy, and the same sentence has probably been said in a million different ways, but it’s true. I left thinking I was too big for the small life, that New Zealand was boring and not good enough for the life I thought I desired. In reality I just didn’t know how to live yet.

I went to London and it was there I learnt how to live. I discovered myself through trials, tribulations, tears and smiles. And that person, this person I became, ended up craving a bigger space to breathe and grow. London suffocated me. It’s definitely a big city, but it’s also hugely populated. I listened to my body, and it was telling me I needed to move on – it’s funny how perfectly, gloriously, accurate your gut instincts can be. Researchers are discovering that microbes in our gut can send messages and important brain chemicals to our brain, affecting how we think, feel, and remember. Well, my theory is that so do your lungs. Breathe the air you should breathe, and you exhale happiness.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I just know that New Zealand air is my kind of air. I encourage you to find yours.

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Dear Reader,

Welcome to another blog of mine. If you’re a returning reader, I apologise for my absence – my brain hasn’t exactly been clear lately. If you’re new, well you’ve come along at an interesting crossroad. It’s a lot of words, and I’ve written and re-written this many times, so I’m deciding to just post it in it’s current state. Here ya go…

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Today’s blog is brought to you by a big decision I made a few weeks ago, and one I’ve had difficulty making for over a year: leaving London. I moved to London when I was eighteen, and ready for an adventure of self-discovery and risks. The last few years have been nothing short of that; I’ve met people who will stay friends for the remainder of my life, I’ve explored cultures, cities & countries, whilst furthered myself through skill and awareness. I know I know, all of the classic & cliché things, but it’s true and I am not lying when I say this city has changed me as a person for the better.

I love London, and it is one of the best places to live in the world – I say that wholeheartedly – however, London is not an easy place to live. It’s a city where unless you are lucky enough to find a job which douses your bank account, it can be very much a situation of living pay check to pay check. It’s a city of competition, and entitlement. It’s fast-paced, and unless you can keep up with it, you can feel left behind.

I wasn’t one of these ‘unlucky’ ones; I like to think I have thrived here. And this isn’t in a “look at me” way, it’s in a way of pride. I got a good job, I worked hard and in result got promoted twice. I now have incredible friends who have given my life excitement and memories of a lifetime. I improved my living situation with every move. All of this, and having never worried about money, makes me proud of myself and everything I have achieved here.

So, if all was going well, what changed my mind about living here?

Well, if I’m completely honest, I became unhappy. Ultimately this is what I wanted to get down in this blog. This website has followed my entire London journey (my very first blog being about my first day here), through the ups and downs, and this process doesn’t stop with my decision to leave.

There was never one thing which caused the unhappiness, but I knew in my heart of hearts, there was something wrong. It stuck around, constantly underneath the sporadic smiles and dance parties, never really going away. It was a feeling I don’t want to label, because it’s not about that it, but it was a feeling of lostness. I felt alone, whilst surrounded by a city of 8 million, I felt unsupported from all angles in my life, I felt heavy and held down. It is important to understand that this isn’t directed at anyone, because I truly believe it was my body telling me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and not the byproduct of something in my life.

It is a scary thing to realise your “home” has detrimental effects on your mental state.

From the moment I set foot on English soil, I’ve been announcing to the world I would never leave – London was my new home. I absolutely wasn’t about to be one of those people who came to the UK, or Europe, for 6 months only to give up and go back to the little ol’ home town. I think this is partly why I’ve struggled so much the last several months, because for years I’ve been subconsciously telling myself I would be a failure if I even considered moving home. Insert another lovely feeling: of being trapped.

I started making plans to rid this unhappiness; plans to make changes to my work situation, my living situation; I had decided I was going to convert a Sprinter van and join the #VanLife movement. I was going to travel Europe whilst writing, combining two of my favourite things. I was convinced that my life was just missing some freedom. I became excited, I started telling people and I was happy because people were excited about the idea. I thought “Yes, this is the answer”.

A week passed, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach started crawling back up to my throat. Back to square one. I knew deep down this wasn’t the solution.

Then some suggested an idea that I couldn’t shake. Moving home. I sat on it, and after a week it still felt like it may be a good idea. After two weeks, I had my flight booked, my resignation submitted, and I felt like a weight had been lifted. It was the first time in months I could wake up and not feel heavy.

Since making this decision, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been an emotional adventure coming to terms with leaving this life behind. But after a chat with one of my best-friends I have been reminded this isn’t leaving anything behind, and moving to New Zealand isn’t a step backwards towards my old life, it’s a step forward. It’s simply change; a new chapter.

I will not say ‘I am moving back’, because that implies I’m going backwards. This is me going forward, this is a new chapter in my life. 

London has been a love affair, and it’s something I don’t want to ruin. I’m leaving at a time that is right for me, and for my writing, and I’m excited about that. Being a creative in London is also something I wanted to discuss. You can feel like you’re failing yourself and your art if you take time off from it. London adds this pressure, and it’s hard to ignore. Acting, writing, dancing, singing – if it’s your passion – shouldn’t be pressured, and/or done for the sake of trying to keep up to be successful.

I’m excited to go to New Zealand and find new inspirations in my writing, to further my life, to build a future, to be surrounded by family, to enjoy the things that I love – the ocean, nature, the quiet and calm, living a more organic lifestyle.

My goal now? To enjoy every second I have being based in London. I am creating a project called #100WaysToSayGoodbye – the last 100 days, every day with something new, simple, weird or exciting.

I apologise because this blog is less for you, and more for me, with lots (and lots) of words. But if you’ve read to the end, I guess throughout this decision to move home I’ve learnt the importance of putting myself, and my health, first. Even though I still can’t understand why I feel London isn’t right for me anymore, I’ve listened to myself and I know this is the right thing to do.

I will miss you London, I will miss you my London friends, but I am happy because I know I will see you again.

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Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

YOUR life.

Sometimes living the life I lead, I come across small situations that cause me to get anxious; make me want to leave; remind me of how much I miss the comforts of home and family. It’s so easy for people to say “Your parents must be so proud”, “You’re so brave”, which I guess in some respects are both true, but the majority of the people who hear about my story say,

“but you’re so young”

This small quote reacts with me different ways every time I get it pushed into my ears. For starters, people who say this to me, when has age ever been a restriction? (Obviously apart from all those law restricted purchases). Have you heard about the 77-year-old Supergran who runs 100km ultra-marathons for the pleasure of it? Laura Dekker? She became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, at the age of 16 (Not to mention, a kiwi, you go girl), and let’s not forget about the people like my Grandmother, who moved across the world, via boat not plane, at younger ages than I, in the war times, alone. People get so wound up in ages that they forget to even ask why they’re doing what they’re doing. Yes people ask me about my travels, but the majority of the people are so quick to judging me on my age, or where I’m living; as if a zone puts a stamp on my success.

My second response to this quote is for me to want to pull into myself and not speak to anyone at all. This might seem ridiculous, attention-seeking, or pathetic to a lot of people, but for me it’s the only way that I can regain my thoughts. You don’t realise how hard it is to be away from people, until you actually are. I’ve been in London for just over 5 months, and it’s just about this time that I have fallen comfortable into a routine; of work and no play; I’m beginning to miss my oldest of best-friends at home, and in waves of gut-wrenching sadness I miss my family; hugs from Mum and Dad, but more importantly I do sometimes begin to lose sight of why I’m really here. Losing sight is what makes you want to just give up and go home.

Last night, I had a very similar break down. It was not exactly because of being named young, it was more a build up of small remarks, tones, and attitudes from the past week. I had had enough, and walking home staring up at the full, glowing moon above the London horizon of brick, I had a sudden urge. A sudden longing to leave London, go back to New Zealand, lay all over my parents on the couch like I used to, and just feel truly at home again. I posted a photo to my instagram (@paigebolland) and my Dad,  being the superhero that he is, swooped in to save the day. My Dad, and of course my Mama Bear as well, has always known what to say and when to say it. Now I know my moving here was hard for them, but they always said things that cut the doubts out of my mind, and re-convinced me that what I was doing was incredible; a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that I had to do it. So last night, when I felt like giving up, Dad saw the photo with the venting quote underneath, and messaged me.

“Understand kiwi girl, keep your chin up”

Small, but enough to make me smile just like that.

“Harder than it should be sometimes, but it is the big picture the focus is on”

This, being in the state I was in, I replied to questioning what the actual big picture was anymore. To which he responded,

“YOUR life”

He made me remember than I’m here for my own adventures, and that sometimes to get there you do have to put up with people who are jealous; have smaller dreams; less motivation; people who will do anything to hold you back. Yes living here is hands down THE hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it is also the craziest, most beautiful, difficult adventure.

This is MY life, and if you step in my way, I’ll build a ten mile high tower above that so called “big person” you think you are and sky dive off the roof miles past you.

– Thanks Dad x