London | 2018


City  London
Age  37
Love life Single
Profession Fashion Retail Manager
Years in London 5
Location — Courtyard of V & A Museum

T H E  L O N D O N  S T O R I E S





  • What makes you really happy?
    “Spending time with the people that I love and who love me. I also find meeting new people very stimulating. I feed off it, it gives me energy to find out their experiences, their life and their loves. And it brings in different thoughts and makes you see your own life slightly different. But listening to Radio Six curled up in bed with my cats and just completely, completely relaxing by myself can be happiness as well.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “Being able to communicate with lots of different people. I don’t have a very scientific brain, but maybe others can’t communicate with confidence with other people the way I do. A friend always tells me my best and worst quality is seeing the good in people. I definitely try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve had experiences where people turned out to be very different to what I thought, so I try to be more cautious. As I get older, I also realize how tiring it is to always be open to other people. When I was younger, I would just go and go and go, and be out and sociable all the time and never stop. I’d get overtired and suddenly have an enormous energy crash. Now I know when I need an afternoon of just me to recharge a bit.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “The last few years I have changed the direction of my life quite a lot. I was married for ten years and was living in this little house in a country town in the South of England. I felt very claustrophobic and quite bored, like I didn’t belong there anymore. All my free time was being spent in London, going to galleries, meeting friends, going out. I felt alive when I was in London. But moving to London was something that I was scared off, I thought that the city life was for somebody else, that I couldn’t do it. But I felt like I needed to go and live some life there. So when I did decide to go, it was a big deal for me. Starting this new life has been both brilliant and really hard. I went back to living in a shared house with people I didn’t know and I had to change my job. It still makes me feel anxious and nervous that I don’t feel financially secure in London. You can’t afford to rent by yourself, let alone buy a house, so you do wonder how that will benefit you as you grow older. Sometimes it’s also about missing the security of having somebody else to pick things up. It was very painful to take this step, but it was still totally worth it and the right thing to do.”
  • What is your biggest life lesson?
    “That I have the self-knowledge of knowing that I can do things, like moving to London. Getting the confidence at the age of 31 to finally say to myself: you need to go and learn to be your own person, is the best thing that ever happened to me. With every new experience my confidence grows and things gets less and less scary. I am still telling myself to step out of my comfort zone and I probably often harden myself. Sometimes I write a little list of things I am proud of. I mean, I am doing London! I used to get so lost in London, but I have a certain pace now. I am a Londoner now, I know my way around the Tube without having to stop and look.”

  • What is your biggest disappointment in life?
    “I’ve always wished I would be able to forward-plan my life. I’ve always been a bit ‘go with the flow’ and followed other people’s paths before I considered mine. When I was married, I was happy to follow my husband’s path more than my own. When I realized in my thirties I needed my own path, it started to split us up. At that point I was disappointed that I didn’t pay more attention to my education when I was younger. I never did university and have always accidentally fallen into careers and jobs that suited me. Sometimes I think that other people know exactly where they are going, while I really don’t have a fucking clue and feel like I missed that class on how to be an adult. I have always been very jealous of people who had a real passion and studied hard for a path that they really wanted to follow. I’ve spent ten years thinking about what my passion could actually be. Depending on the day I wish I was a speech therapist, or a vet, or a gallerist. Whatever it was, I’d hoped by now to feel really experienced. And maybe I ‘ve nailed what I’m doing now, I am a damn good seller, but I would like to have more qualifications than that. Still something I hope to gain at some point.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “One of my best friends told me, ‘man up, wet pants’ when I was crying. I needed that kick in the butt. And not that long ago when I was comparing my life to someone else’s and worrying that their circumstances will happen to me as well, my sister said: that doesn’t have to be your story, decide your own fate and let that be someone else’s story.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Surround yourself with people that make you feel good, confident and happy. Try to have your eyes open enough to recognize them and really cherish them. If you have those people in your life, celebrate them. My other piece of advice: we are so worried about what other people think, but everyone has their own issues, people really don’t care that much about what you’re doing. Stick with the good people and don’t give time to negative people.”
  • What is your biggest sadness in life?
    “I wish my dad could see my life now. He passed away when I was 27 and I think he was sad that I hadn’t left the town I grew up in. He would have been really happy to see me living this life in London and running stores and running my own life. He would think that was great, so I am sad that he never looks in. I do feel that I am carrying him around in London as well.”
  • What is your biggest fear?
    “It really freaks me out when somebody is very different from the person I thought they were. Especially in relationships, that’s what I have been the most scared about. And for myself I am very scared of ending up alone. I don’t mean being single, but being elderly without friends or family, that is what I find really, really scary. If I think about that, that makes me physically sick.”
  • What does London mean to you?
    “London means home, freedom, opportunity, friendship and a lot of laughter and late nights and early mornings. When I was first moving here, my boss at that time said to me: it’s hectic and it’s crazy and you work so hard and you will often be very tired, but it has a buzz like nowhere else and it is 100% worth it. All of that is completely true. When I used to come up to London and just walked through Victoria Station, I could feel all this energy just coming up inside of me and suddenly I was buzzing. It is so exciting and electric! It’s different than the other European cities I’ve been to. London has a real no-BS attitude to it. It’s in your face, but it is very warm at the same time. It has so many different cultures and nationalities in it, it has become such a melting pot. That is also why I would say that there is no typical Londoner anymore. It’s ‘anything goes’, the fashions, the cultures, how open people can be about themselves and their sexuality. It’s tolerant and I am proud of London for that. It has such a wonderful vibe to it. But you have to find a balance with London. When I lived near busy roads and the route to work was very busy as well, I wasn’t able to relax properly. The on-button is always being held down. Every now and then I like to take myself completely away from London, somewhere really quiet in the country side for a couple of days. When you come back, you love it again.”

Photos by Gordon Roland Peden


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