Recently I've been thinking a lot about leaving Berlin, the bustling, anxiety-inducing city I have resided in for the past four years. This hectic, hedonistic city, best described as an adult's playground, that comes fully equipped with the tagline of 'delayed responsibility'. Which, as a (vaguely) functioning depressive, arriving here from the quietude of the French countryside, has been both revolutionary and transformative, whilst equally difficult and panic-inducing at times.
Originating from a relatively conservative Britain, where I constantly felt restricted and bound by the country's repressive, narrow-minded and quite frankly, out-dated dogma, Berlin really felt like a breath of fresh rebellious air when I first arrived. It was, and still remains, a melting pot of open-minded, creative freethinkers, who seem set on avoiding conformity, maintaining their freedom and expressing the shit out of themselves sexually, artistically or otherwise.
Which, after years of restless agitation, made it feel as though I'd finally found my place and my people. It honestly felt like freedom and in those initial few years, I tried to embrace every delicious second of its relaxed joie de vivre; from the midweek trips to the lake on balmy Summer afternoons to the pizza guzzling, sunset watching evenings on Tempelhof. I forged a life around yoga, ice cream and hanging out with friends. I felt as though I was taking back a youth I had spent being too serious, too work-obsessed and too depressed to enjoy.
However, as the third and the fourth years have rolled by, the glossy exterior of the city has gradually worn off and the reality of what it means to constantly live on the breeze of Berlin's transitory nonchalant vibe has kicked in with a vengeance. All the fun starts to feel skin deep. People you love eventually leave. Everything is always changing, year-by-year, week-by-week. There is no solid ground here, there is no stability. The only certainty is the uncertainty.
Which has perhaps made me realise, that whilst I might have broken those conservative binds that never agreed with me, it seems I still have traditional values at heart. I need depth. I need security. I still want parts of what I left behind, just in my own way and in my own time.
If I'd have moved to Berlin when I was twenty, I would have devoured it whole. Soaked in every sordid, reckless, rebellious aspect. It would have been the perfect distraction from myself. Although, who knows if that would have been transformative or disastrous. However, I moved here at twenty-six, in crisis, suffering from mental anguish and seeking answers.
In so many ways, it's been revolutionary and I have zero regrets, but with my depressive episodes, which have continued to plague me throughout my Deutschland journey, like grey clouds following solely me on sunny days, getting more and more frequent and the bouts of anxiety, which continually tether me to my apartment, becoming increasingly more intense, I see just how much grounding I need right now. How much calm. How much quietude.
It's time for me, like so many Berlin friends before, to move on to the next chapter. This city promises to break you down, to tear you apart and shake away the nonsense, so that what you're eventually left with is the truth. Your truth. And maybe you stay and implement that truth where you found it, or maybe, like me, you take it and sow it like the seed it is, somewhere altogether new.