I’ve been a bit naughty during my last year of living in England’s capital. I’ve travelled to loads of places, around the world and the UK, but haven’t really seen much of London.
It’s got me thinking about how we function as human beings – daydreaming about the next adventure, but never really opening up our eyes to see what’s on offer just outside our front door.
In particular, I’ve been thinking about the three years I spent in Sydney and my many regrets from how I chose to spend my time living there as an young adult.
I know, I know – you shouldn’t regret anything, don’t live in the past, blah, blah, etc.
Well, I’ve got two things to say to that. The first is that I’ll do what I want. The second is, that I think it’s important to reflect on your past and what could be improved on. What else is going to prevent you from making the same mistake again?
My life in Sydney was very straight forward. I worked – a lot. I hung out with friends. I went to the beach – Gordon’s Bay in particular, also known as “Surry Hill’s Beach”, where students and hipsters alike flocked to. I had my favourite haunts – cafés, restaurants, sushi trains, music venues.
I had a life there. It wasn’t a bad one, by any means, even if I don’t think I was ready for it at the time.
It’s not like I didn’t do anything in Sydney. I went to plenty of events, such as film festivals, art exhibitions and food fairs. There was always something going on there and I was keen to get among it.
I think what bothers me the most is all the things I didn’t do. Because, I did have a list – but I also thought I had all the time in the world, despite the fact that I was pretty set on leaving for London by the time I turned 25 in 2014.
I didn’t try yoga on a paddle-board. Actually, I never did stand-up paddle boarding in general! I lived ten minutes from The Grounds in Alexandria – yet did I ever eat brunch there? Of course I didn’t.
I never got in amongst Sydney’s art scene. I didn’t try to get published in any of the local magazines or newspapers. I never got involved in local politics. I didn’t bother trying to make friends outside of university and work. I never joined a local sports team.
I never took photos, not knowing that I’d kick myself years later for having no visuals to back up a blog post I’d write one day about what I regretted most about my time spent in Sydney. Unsurprisingly, this particular regret features quite high on the list.
I barely made it outside the city centre. The suburb of Parramatta is having a revival, yet I haven’t really been there since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Campbelltown is said to have the best Pho in the city, but did I ever make it out there to sample a bowl? Of course not.
I’ll probably go to the UK’s Liverpool long before I make it out to Sydney’s counterpart. The Blue Mountains are but a distant memory from my childhood.
I can’t feel too bad for what I did and didn’t do in Sydney. My hometown is pretty much the default capital of Australia and we’ve hardly sung our swansong. I see plenty of rounds of SUP-ping and lazy brunches in the inner west in my future.
So, what’s the point in listing all these regrets? I don’t want history repeating itself. I don’t want to leave London, full of remorse for what I didn’t do.
When it does comes time to move on, I want to do so knowing full well in my heart that I made the most of every opportunity when it presented itself. I want to see, hear and taste London. I want to know the city inside out.
And have a hard drive full of photos to prove it.