Find your own fuck level

  1. It’s ok to turn off the news if it is scaring or depressing you.
  2. Never wear a jacket to an interview, they should hire you for your brain not what you are wearing.
  3. Always say hello to a cat if you see it on the street, their time is more important than yours.
  4. Don’t hang out with people you don’t actually like; your energy is too precious to waste.
  5. Clothes that make you smile are just as important as clothes that make you feel stylish.
  6. Always tell friends when they have done something amazing or brave, we don’t get enough credit for adulting.
  7. Don’t feel bad for giving too many fucks or not enough fucks, find your own fuck level.
  8. When someone tells you how to live your life, mostly it is because they want you to be happy and the advice is how they managed it.
  9. Give yourself as many options in life as possible.
  10. If you hate it that much, leave.
  11. Never start an email with ‘I just’.
  12. Make your own measures of success, everyone’s milestones will be different and all of them are worthy of celebration.
  13. You don’t have to smile unless you want to.
  14. Do scary things every day, but you can decide for yourself what counts as scary.
  15. Never feel guilty for what you are eating as long as you are enjoying it rather than eating it mindlessly.
  16. Take time to tell people ‘they can’, other people did it for you.
  17. No one else’s success will take away from your success.
  18. You can never guess what someone is going through, they might not be a bitch they might just be hurting.
  19. If emotion is overwhelming you check to see if you are actually just hungry.
  20. Silliness is important.

New York Street Art

I was born on a rainy day in July. My Mum had the flu, my three year old sister threw up down my Dad’s back and I had a red birthmark that stretched from the tip of my nose to the top of my forehead. For that little squalling troublemaker, just hours old, some things were certain (taste-buds that would eventually love coffee {and gin}) and others were just possibilities (growing up to be a tax accountant???); but it was all of me that was born, every part of me started on the same day. Homesickness and adventure were born to co-exist because they were all potential parts of me born on that wet July day.

Homesickness is something I have battled with since moving away from home, and I’m sure it will continue to sucker punch me at will. I’ve always thought it was something to try and cut out, that it wasn’t meant to be part of me; homesickness was imposed upon me like a tax, you just pay the price and endure. But it is a part of me. It was born at the same time as the rest of me.

I get homesick because I love my family so damn much, I get homesick because I am someone who craves having a secure base to go home to. The negative that is homesickness is just all the good things about me hitting home in an unusual way, hitting me because other parts of me have led me to London on this big adventure.

Because that is the trick, adventure was that other little part of me born in July. When I was young this translated into going up to strangers and offering to show them my highland fling (I was four and had been given a kilt for Christmas…don’t judge me I didn’t know how dodgy it sounded), but now it is a desire to go to Norway so strong it hurts. Its dreaming about Florence at my desk with such ferocity that I can taste the gelato. Adventure is the desire for the new, for the awe, for the potential life I could lead.

Homesickness and adventure, two opposing parts of my personality both born at the same time. One makes me look back with love and security, and the other drags me forward and shows me what I could have – both are important, and both are me.

Imagine if we took the ‘sick’ out of homesickness. Imagine if next time a friend was looking down and you asked if they were ok they instead said “I’m just cherishing memories from home”. Homesickness is beautiful and desired when you think of it like that, it means you have built such strong connections that you can’t just cast them off like an old skin. It’s a testament to how deeply you connect with a place, time and people.

Without reflection on your past there would be no controls on your future. There would be nothing stopping me uprooting and travelling the world. My desire for adventure would let loose an insatiable wanderlust, no reason for deep relationships; I would be endlessly fulfilled by the shiny new sunrises across every horizon.

Sometimes it feels impossible to reconcile the unhappy parts of yourself, and that is what I have always seen homesickness as – an unhappy moment. But it is all me, for every bite of homesickness there is an adventure waiting to pull me somewhere exciting. Homesickness and adventure coexist within that little baby born 27 years ago, and they balance each other in the most perfect of ways.

Homesickness and adventure are born to co-exist

Piccadilly Circus at night

Sometimes London can be a bit of a wankpuffin. Not inherently evil; just grey, exhausting and full of bankers. But as an expat you have a responsibility to uphold the green green grass and make everyone at home as jealous as a fuckmonkey. I don’t mind if you do it by casual Instagram photos, smug Facebook statuses, or a holier than thou email – you have to get the ‘I’m better than you because I live in London’ point across. It is your burden to bear and I’m here to help through it.

Make people think that you are at London fashion week

This is important because it’s both an exclusive event and something that you can only experience in London – aka the jackpot. Your first problem is that you don’t have any fashionable clothes and after 8 months of winter you look like a mole-rat; you are going to have to improvise. Get a massive scarf, a bed sheet or a medium sized cat and wrap it  around your neck. Then find a dodgy allyway and get ready for your close up. Wrap your scarf/cat/sheet across your face from your nose down, zoom in close and only capture the wall, your eyes and your furry/sheety face. Then post to Instagram with a snotty caption about not liking the Vivienne Westwood show and geotag it to London Fashion Week – your friends back home will hate you and your fabulous life.

Convince people that you enjoy your commute

People talk about commuting more than they talk about holidays, it is crucial that you have a good story. If you boss your commute people will think you are a strong powerful millennial worthy of trust and promotions, it’s that important. The most popular option for a jealously inducing commute is to take all the money you were planning to spend on holidays this year, add it to your rent and sell your body on the street – that way you can afford to live in Zone 1 and you can walk to work. The daily smugness of telling you had a gentle walk instead of worrying about a tube strike is well worth all the cancelled holidays.

For those of you that don’t feel prostitution is an option (I get it, winter is cold here) another option is to try to be the weirdest person on the tube to make other people avoid you (and guarantee you a seat). Given that I have seen someone dressed as a realistic panda bear, a real life parrot with an Oyster Card, and a man urinating on himself while broadly smiling at the carriage and talking about the weather this might be hard. If you manage it that bubble of personal space will make your commute feel like a dream.

Play hipster hide and seek

You have to let people back home know that you have a full and happy life – convincing them that you are totally busy and not just at home watching Netflix every night. One totally free game that all the kids are doing these days is playing hipster hide and seek. Dress up as a hipster and tell your friends to try and find you in Shoreditch. Seriously this is hours of fun and is the 2016 version of Wheres Wally. I won the game last weekend by growing a beard, rolling up the ankles on my jeans, putting an apple sticker on my laptop and hiding in the lobby of the Ace Hotel. No one could find me. In fact, they still haven’t found me. Please help.

“Travel” Europe 

Lets be honest, being permanently drunk on gin can get pricey. So pricey in fact that your original dreams of going to Europe every weekend have literally gone down the toilet. Never fear, you can still convince people back home that you are living the expat dream. Find a country themed restaurant in London, like Katzenjammers German beer hall in Southbank, go there with your latest Tinder date and get heavy on the selfies. Make sure when you post them to Facebook you set your location as a random bar in Berlin or your friends will know something is hinky.


With these simple steps all your friends back home will be writhing on the floor with jealousy and be considering moving over to London to live the expat dream. It’s ideal really, you need more people over here since you keep losing people when you play hipster hide and seek…

Fake London

No good reason Street Art

The most common word to describe London is ‘busy’, followed shortly behind by ‘exhausting’ and ‘what the fuck am I doing with my life’. Ok that last one isn’t one word, but just go with me here. Living in London you are never still; just to get to work is a mammoth task of energy, people and exhaustion. Annual leave and cheap travel discounts mean that most people have their lives planned out for the next few months. Actually that’s not quite the whole truth, we have the lily pads planned out and us over-saturated Londoners just leapfrog between them.

It’s the most extreme form of living for the weekend, we live for milestones. Those moments of excitement, calm or celebration that give us markers in our lives. We are not kids any more, getting excited to finally reach double digits. We have to create our own markers of success. So we plan trips to Iceland to see harsh magical landscapes that our parents wouldn’t have imagined. We book the Harry Potter play 12 months out because it’s A THING that can’t be missed. We escape to somewhere warm, just to have light at the end of the tunnel that is winter – a modern day winter solstice.

Those experiences are amazing. They might even be life changing. After all once you’ve drunk ouzo on a beach in Crete it’s pretty easy to imagine you could do anything with your life. Although shortly after having that epiphany you will get into a fight with the sea, call it a fucking bastard and then throw up on your shoes. Sorry I got side-tracked a little there; fucking salty bastard.

While amazing, fun and drunkenly life changing those milestone lily pads are not life, life is what happens when you are making plans. Life is feeling incredible because you have finally figured out the changes at Bank Station (it’s my new superpower, I’m waiting for Marvel to make a movie about it). Life is feeling hopeless when friends are hurting and you can’t do a thing to help. Life is feeling so stuck in your career that you want to scream. Life is those insignificant middle bits, the bits that will never make it onto Instagram.

All those emotions. All the little frustrating, hard, sad, happy and beautiful bits of life shape you and make you who you are, who you might be and who you will be. I don’t know many people who have gone on a trip or to a festival and had such a life changing experience that it shapes their future. I do however know a lot of people for who the frustrations of life (or sometimes the joys) have been a catalyst for some of the bravest choices they will ever have to make.

Once you hit your mid-twenties the changes to who you are become more subtle.  Change happens like dominos, each one insignificant but the whole forming a pattern that you can’t help but act on. I guess the most stereotypical example in London are people who end up going home because of the weather, the commute and the expensive flats. None so huge that they can’t be overcome, but all together are enough to make you move to the other side of the world.

I think this is why I struggle so much when people ask me (often with genuine shock or confusion) why I am living in London? I mean I just love London so much, but why? How do you tell someone that you like the bits in between the lily pads, you love the brunch and wine with friends, the subtle changes in weather that can be talked about for hours, getting mocked at work for saying pants in the wrong context, the BBC shows, the monuments and famous buildings everywhere, the art that I never see, the love for the chaos, the connection, the life I have built all by myself. How do you say all that without people thinking you are mad?

So instead we talk about the lily pads. We talk about the travel, the festivals, the shows and the plans. We talk in milestones because we think that is what other people will be able to understand. Of course this is nonsense, we all have our own little lives full of joy and pain. We are all growing and changing between our life milestones. We all find it too hard to talk about and define until a catalyst make us reflect and change. And then, maybe then we can say ‘I did this for a reason’, and ‘I know who I am’. And of course, if all else fails, you can always tell the lily pad story about getting into a fist fight with the Aegean Sea.

Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans