Tuesday, 26 June 2018

A Little Life Catch-Up - Work, Relationships and Making Friends as a Grown-Up

It's been a while since I've written anything even a little bit personal on here. I love sharing my life online but as I've got older I've become a little more guarded of the cyber trail I leave in my wake... (hello to current and former bosses, close and distant family, and friends of friends reading). Here's a rather overdue catch-up / ramble about what's new(ish):

1. I quit my job!

I've barely mentioned my career on this blog as this has always been my creative outlet and I felt somewhat uncool in a world of freelancers, girl-bosses and influencers in having taken a traditional, corporate career path (although decidedly not a 9-5 one). One where I had a boss, where eating three meals a day at my desk was the norm, where my WhatApp auto-filled the "sorry I can't make your [insert occasion here], I am stuck at work".

Six-and-a-half years as a corporate lawyer was a truly formative experience - one where I made lasting friendships, worked with some incredibly talented, fiercely intelligent individuals, travelled to new countries, spent my first ever bonus on a now well-worn pair of Louboutins and learned as much about myself and my personal values as I did about corporate law. Being a lawyer is not the sum total of my identity but it will always be a part of my life, a part of me will always be a lawyer despite no longer practising law.

My new job isn't a huge leap away from the familiar - I actually still work for a law firm and am getting to grips being "behind the scenes" in the marketing team. So no, I'm not teaching yoga on a beach or tapping away on my MacBook in a cafe, and that's ok. I've reclaimed a huge sense of balance, I get more sleep, do more yoga and I have zero Sunday night fear.

And I'll still review your lease agreement, house purchase contract or help you write a strongly worded email, you're welcome.

2. A sweet life milestone

I haven't really mentioned much about my relationship on my blog but it's now been "about a year" (29 July, to be exact) since I nervously caught a taxi to a bar, arrived half an hour early, visited the ladies approximately six times and then got to the empty bar to find my now boyfriend chatting to the bar man. I deleted the dating app we connected on while walking home, walking into a granite rock sculpture in the process.

Embarking on my first relationship with a fellow human in my (very) early thirties has been a revelation, it turned out that dating and getting to know someone was super fun but being truly at ease in someone's company is even better. I'd made peace with the possibility of not finding someone I really, really liked and getting to that stage was key, for me, in knowing that my relationship hadn't sprung out of the fear of being alone but was better than taking on the world solo.

Having no touchstones of comparison, and no traumatic heartbreaks or cheating exes always made me wary about ever being able to be "good" at being in a relationship - most of my friends have had at least a ten year head start while I was too busy trying to make myself the finished product, proving I could be independent and climbing the career ladder (see point 1 above).

It turns out you don't need to be "sorted" or have made yourself perfect before finding your king (or queen), there's no time limit on finding them and when you do, there are no rules on how you should or shouldn't do things. Loving someone else, and accepting their love in return, has been my biggest and best adventure.

3. Expat trials

It's been almost 18 months since I moved to Dubai I somewhat underestimated the challenges of being far from friends and family, of not having a readily accessible support network to grab a drink with and to (sometimes) walk me home after the lights come on. Of not having family a phone call and car ride away, of time together being subject to combined annual leave days and expensive, seven hour flights.

Arriving in a new city, I naively expected to be welcomed as a newbie, rather than being met with the feeling that everyone had "enough friends" already. Friendships have always been formed from shared experiences, and in a new city where initially all my energy was spent just figuring out how to get through each week it seemed like this would never come, that I'd left a slightly dwindling social scene in London for...no social scene in Dubai.

It turns out that making friends as an adult is hard, making friends in a new county is hard, making friends in a place where you didn't go to school, or university or have connections from a time before you were the well-adjusted, sensible young lady you are today is hard.

A huge part of moving to a new city is acceptance that you can't recreate your old life in a new place, and that the old life isn't even there anymore, as you knew it. That this may just be a life phase where friends feature less, and that's ok because the last year has been really seminal but friends have always been so important that it's hard to go without - friends are, I now know, an essential and not just a "nice to have". Making friends is like playing a quasi-dating game only friendship is harder because it's not as clear cut and takes on varying forms of depth and closeness.

In the last couple of months I've realised that, actually, I do have friends - friends who have welcomed me into their homes, trusted me to look after their cat for a week, brought me back sweet, thoughtful gifts from trips and, bittersweetly, invited me to their leaving parties. Friendships have sprung out of activities which are enjoyable in themselves and where friendship is incidental and a bonus if it happens - bookclubs, yoga classes, networking events. It's also taken WhatsApping a fellow barre-attendee until we could both make a coffee date, tracking down a table mate from a women's network dinner on LinkedIn, forcing myself to ask people for their numbers, facing my fear of the spontaneous and accepting last-minute invites even when I've not felt my most sociable to get to a point where, while my diary isn't quite as packed as it was in London, it's no longer filled with conspicuous gaps.

I hope you got to the end of what could have been three separate blog posts.... I'll be back with some pictures of avocado soon. xxx



  1. Really enjoyed reading a bit more of your life really! I laughed about walking into the stone sculpture... ouch. Funnily, my now husband (! pretty crazy) shoved me onto my bus home on our first date so these things are the norm. I think you've done so well of putting yourself out there, i mean, tracking down someone on linkedin??! Way to go hahaha.

  2. Congratulations on all of the above girl! I enjoy reading blogs written by people who have a job other than freelancers and influencers, they're a rarer find these days.

  3. Ahh I loved this post. Really nice hearing more about your life. Also so happy for you with your boyfriend (who I remember as being lovely from the brief time I spent with you guys). Very happy for you :)

  4. I love me a life update post, Lily! Congrats on your new job and new(ish) boyfriend. I know I've said it before but I think you're SO brave to up sticks and move to a brand new country on your own, let alone having the guts to join classes and groups in a bid to meet new people and make friends. Good for you, lass x

  5. Congratulations on the new job- sounds like a very good move indeed to get that work/life balance more sorted.
    I've met a few friends through my running club and we have had that discussion about making friends as adults- it is so much harder for some reason. Well done for getting out there and being brave with that sort of thing too.

  6. Aw what a lovely post! Congrats on all the lovely things! x


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