London: the Beginning of the End

I come from the Soviet Union block. On March 11th in 1990 Lithuania declared independence, the first in the Soviet Union block to do so. Now it’s an independent republic. I was 7 years old then. I didn’t understand what was really going on. The consequences of fighting the suppression were felt for quite a few years.

Lithuania did suffer. I do remember bleak and sad faces. There was little money, food, clothes and everything we have in abundance today. After school, I had to queue up at the shop to get a tiny bit of anything that was left. The currency was some kind of printed paper. I don’t even remember what it was called. A few years later it was changed to litas and now euro.

However, I do remember it all coming to life when at school we could wear anything we wanted. No uniforms! We could buy bananas in the shops. Those were the days… The aftermath of the Russians is deeply felt in Lithuania, some cultural behaviour comes from there too. After all Lithuania was under the Russians since 1936! Many generations is needed for people to change their mentality and attitude but that’s another blog post.

When I first came to London I loved it. I spent 15 years of my life in the UK. I got a University degree in English Literature and studied MA in Marketing at a University of London. I am grateful I was able to study there. I have learned a lot. I felt ‘special’ I could study and pay for my own studies. I loved the freedom of study. I loved I could choose anything I wanted.

I have a huge love for learning and education. This was my hook. I loved London. It was the place where I could see an independent films, I could go to opera, go to Shakespeare’s Globe and see almost all of Shakespeare plays I’ve studied. I loved all the art exhibitions. I went to every single one of them. I studied art you see. I hadn’t seen original paintings of Monet or Picasso.

This was breathtaking for me. I loved “a new” architecture in London I hadn’t seen yet which always intimidated me. I was in love with London for those cultural, art and literature things that I’ve consumed daily. London was one of those rare places that make you feel, rightly or wrongly, you were genuinely invited into the mystery of its life. However, this blinded me because there’s a sinister side to London.

I joined the corporate world because I had to pay for my studies. I had to pay for my life. I had to pay for all my theatre and opera tickets. I paid the taxes too if anyone wonders. I was quickly sucked into the world of the corporate. I bought into an imaginary “power” that managers supposedly have. It’s laughable now. I gave up so much of my time working for the man.

What I got in return is, they chewed me up and spat me out. I am glad they did. I woke up! I was never fitted for a corporate world. I care too much about people. I am not a person whom after work stands with colleagues, talks of work and gets drunk. I’ve tried. I paid with my health. I was never into individualistic gain so I can have an expensive car, a big house and two children at a private school.

I was never into using someone so I could get higher on the corporate ladder. I was not a person to get a mortgage and slave my life for the man. I didn’t fit in and I never will and I never wanted it. People work so hard and spend so much time working for the man/corporate world they forget what really matters. What’s worse is people feel entitled to behave bad because they work so hard.

I left the corporate and worked at an agency but that was no better. All in smaller scale but the essence is the same as the corporate. I am grateful to have experienced it. I am grateful for every experience in London even though I have a lot more bad experiences than the good ones.

When I got back to London after some time I spent in Europe, I couldn’t believe what a place this was. For the very first time I saw it for what it really was. Money making machine monster with mean, angry and unhappy people. In a place where there’s little sun. One day in Spain in a crappy bar is worth a hundred days in London.

Everywhere I went all I saw was meanness. I went on a bus people were rude to me for me sitting down. There were no old people around I’d always give up my seat to a person who needs more than me. I went do a GP’s practise the notice before one enters ‘Please be kind to our staff and don’t shout!’. I went to a bank the notice says ‘Our staff is doing all they can please do not shout at them and show them respect.’

I couldn’t believe it! Everywhere I went I was met with notices like that. People in the shops would be mean and angry. People on the tube would be even worse — push everyone around even more. Is this a life? When I started my corporate life journey people would always reminded me I am not from here. I am so glad not to be English. I am so glad not to be part of the system where no-one actually cares about each other.

I am so glad not to be part of the individualistic selfishness. I was feeling the pain in my body flicker like a candle flame under the skin. London is finished for me. I see it for what it is. I am so lucky because I managed to get out. London is one of those places instinctively has a carefully nursed reservoir of anger and draw upon it as needed, in the same way, others make use of daily prayer!

Stay true to your heart and soul. London will take it away from you if you are not careful. Only a few strong willed can actually escape ‘the belly of the beast’. Once you are in the system it’s difficult to get a way. However, life is not about how much money you make, life is not about how bigger boss you are at whatever the company… Life is about how much laughter, joy, love you are experiencing, giving and receiving.

London will steal your dreams too! Don’t forget to dream and remember what the dreams were before you became “a big boss” or where you are right now. We always want what we don’t have. Take a measurement of your life and think what you are wishing for now is it to do with the corporate life? If so, my friend, you are walking a thin line of not returning to your heart and soul.

The best way to know what your heart and soul wants is to know what gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside..? Go and follow that and see the magic unfold.

I am a writer who learned to code! I write about personal experiences within a humanist and global context. Find me on Twitter & Instagram @erikachaudhary

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