city calibration

If you live in London, you will surely recognise this feeling. And I’m sure many other cities around the globe are like it.

‘What have you been doing lately?’

‘Oh, not much. I’ve been to a few shows, museums and all those things, but not much else.’

Spoiler alert: what was just described was actually quite a lot. But in London, it feels like it is never enough. There is a constant push to life here, because we are in London, we must always appreciate that we are in London. There is always something new to do, to see, and we must always want to go and do those things.

I call this ‘city calibration’, and I find it really difficult. I enjoy being at home, baking at home, creating a space that I enjoy spending time in. But there is a constant expectation to have done more, to have appreciated where you live more than that.

I am not saying that I don’t enjoy living in London, and love all the opportunities it presents. It’s just that sometimes I wish I lived somewhere else, where people didn’t expect so much newness all the time. Where it’s okay that I spent time sitting and making, reading and cleaning, baking and being.

The August bank holiday is a classic example for me. As I am a supply teacher, with other freelance gigs surrounding that, I rarely use bank holidays as other people use them. I love seeing people, but I don’t want to do anything ‘touristy’. I can take other days off, explore on the empty days that other people can’t. So I am often the ‘boring’ person on bank holidays. But the pressure to be doing something more is often stifling.

The thing is, I want to stop thinking about our lives like this. Our lives are so much more than the things we have achieved, seen or experienced.

Right now, I am sitting in my kitchen, with the sun just starting to move onto my face, listening to beautiful music, working on some of my favourite projects. Later, I’ll go on a delightful walk, enjoying the fact that the rain has finally returned.

Let’s let go of city calibration. Your life is so much more than the ‘instragrammable’ moments.

And stop asking it of everyone around you.

Jena Ren, 2022

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