L A U R A

 London | 2018

L A U R A

City  London
Age  32
Love life Boyfriend
Profession Workplace Health Specialist for a startup in the corporate health and wellbeing industry
Years in London 7
Location — The Southbank

T H E  L O N D O N  S T O R I E S

‘WORKING

9 TILL 5

GAVE ME BACK

MY FREEDOM’

  • What makes you really happy?
    “My relationships. My friends, but also developing a relationship and strong bond with my boyfriend. I had been single for a very long time, for five years. The first years as a single person were fine, but as I hit thirty, at times I really felt the pain of being single. A lot of friends were getting boyfriends and marriages and children. I was going to events on my own, I had to find a room on my own and the highs and lows of my dating life started to take their toll. One minute you go on a date with an amazing guy and the next date he goes a bit strange and it falls through. The more dates I went on, the more I thought – and I hate to use this phrase – is there any hope? I started questioning myself: is there something wrong with me, am I being too fussy or am I looking for the wrong guys? In the end, I met my boyfriend at ballroom dancing.
    Something else that is very important to me, is work fulfillment. My job has to be more than just a paycheck, it has to have meaning for me. My worst nightmare would be getting paid to do work that I think is awful. Maintaining my health is the third thing that makes me really happy.”
  • What makes you different than other people?
    “That I have a lot of empathy and don’t judge other people. I think that openness to people and my natural curiosity about why people think a certain way, is what helps me foster the relationships that I need. I am always learning and growing from such a different range of people by being so open-minded.”
  • What is your biggest disappointment?
    “That I didn’t seek the help that I needed for the project that I had started, Happy Sugar Habits. I was helping people who were addicted to sugar. I set off with so much enthusiasm and passion and drive for it and I worked really, really hard. But the site and traffic just didn’t bring in enough revenue to keep me going full time, so I had to find another job. That has felt like a disappointment to me, and that is quite hard to say. I had put so much of myself into that project. When I lived in Bali for some months to work on this project, it was fine. But back in London I couldn’t do it, the stress of the finances got too much. I was compromising everything else in my life. I was getting lonely, because my friendships were falling by the wayside because I hadn’t invested in them. I wasn’t doing any hobbies. All the things that people actually need to do to not eat any more sugar, I wasn’t doing myself! Emotionally it was too much of a toll. I learned a lot from that experience, as painful as it was to go through. Now I am in so much of a healthier place. But I still believe in my project, it has the potential to help a lot of people. I get emails every week from readers all over the world. It’s still in me, I just have to work out how it’s going to be a part of my life.”

  • What is your biggest struggle?
    “Self-doubt. Not having enough confidence in myself and what I can do. I experienced anxiety about what had happened in my career and the mistakes that I made. I thought it said something about who I am. So when Happy Sugar Habits didn’t take off as I hoped, I felt like I did something wrong. I took it personally, felt that I wasn’t good enough, rather than understanding that I didn’t have enough experience in business development at that time.
    My other struggle is my enormous ambition and constant striving. I always want to do more. It was actually when I was single for so long that I evaluated, ‘Well actually Laura, if you spend all your hours working, you are not leaving any space for a relationship.’ I was on my laptop literally all day, even in the weekends. I had the feeling that I constantly needed to be productive, I felt guilty when I wasn’t working on my project. So when I went back to working 9 to 5, it gave me more freedom, in a weird way. But it was hard at first, living the dream in Bali and then being back in London getting on the tube every day and commuting. But in the end it felt so right, because it got me me back. My wellbeing just improved so much. I started living again, I moved in with these girls, I got my social life back and did things that I had just forgotten about, like cycling and ballroom dancing. I am absolutely falling in love with everything in London again.”
  • What is your biggest life lesson?
    “That human face-to-face interaction is absolutely key to my health. I was coaching my clients with sugar addiction through digital communication, so I was just sitting inside and didn’t speak to a single person all day long. If I had to work at home for two days in a row, the second day I was crying. I am an extravert, I need that human connection.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Try and seek meaning to your work. Seek something that you do actually care about solving. If you care about the environment, go find an organisation that is linked to that. I think that connection to a deeper meaning in your day-to-day work helps when it’s not so fun. My second advice is, always value relationships. My third advice is to go travel. It opens your eyes to things and stretches you out of your comfort zone.”
  • Is there anything you regret?
    “Not hugely. I think the fear of regretting something gives me more anxiety than worrying about what has happened. So in that sense, I probably live in the future more than in the past.”
  • What is your biggest fear?
    “I’d say wanting to have children and that not happening, for some reason. I have had a health scare when I had a cyst removed. Everything works fine, but that made me realise that I want to have a family. Like every woman I do feel that clock now. My boyfriend is a lot older than I am, he is 46, and we are quite different in some ways. Being my age there is still that panic of, ‘What if something isn’t right and then I am single again and it’s not possible anymore’. My second fear would be not fulfilling my potential in my work.”
  • What is your biggest sadness?
    “Right now it is for my mom, because she is battling hoarding disorder as a mental health issue. She is an amazing person, I am so proud of her. She made me the person I am. It really hurts to see the pain that she goes through. She can’t see that all of my and my brother’s achievements are a reflection of her. She raised us both on her own after she divorced my dad. I am trying to support her, that is an important part of my life at the moment, and the reason I don’t want to work all the time. She has been through some tough things in the past, which she has protected me from, until now. We have to get to the bottom of it.”
  • What does London mean to you?
    “It’s home. A nice home. I think London is extremely diverse in terms of range of different people and the different restaurants and different architecture. Which is very cool. London is also really upfront in the tech and startup scene. And I guess London is probably a bit more booze-centered, people are always in pubs. I also like it that people are driven and ambitious and that there is loads going on. I don’t like that people don’t chat to each other on the tube that much or in passing. I think because everyone is so busy, they don’t have time to talk to a random stranger. That is a missed opportunity. The other thing I don’t like about London is the lack of community. I’m living on a big main street and there is no local community that I engage with. I don’t even know how I would get involved or where the community would start. Everyone is off living their different lives and commuting into central London. In that sense, I found a sort of community through my ballroom dancing. A typical Londoner would be someone ambitious who is enjoying their life in the evening and weekends, going to yoga, having brunch on Sunday and a prosecco in the evening. But that might be because I am only exposed to certain people. Character-wise I would say they are fun, open-minded and light-hearted. People have nice dry humour in London. Many can have a bit of a joke about themselves – you have to smile when there’s a dry witty tube announcement to tell everyone to mind the gap!”

Photos by Gordon Roland Peden

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