Rewind to around this time 3 years ago I didn’t know what I wanted, which is probably safe to say about a 23 year old.
I’m quite an anxious person, and I like to have plans in my head at all times. I hate going with the flow and I’ve never been much of a free spirit (which I hated about myself when I was younger, but have now come to except). I don’t know if it’s the fear of the unknown or the comfort I feel when I know what to expect, but it’s just who I am really.
When I was a teenager, I decided that at some point in my life I would live by the sea, in a big city and in the countryside (what the hell Hayley). First on my list for after Uni was a big city, and that big city was London! But whatever I did, I was NOT going to end up living in my hometown forever. Nope. No thank you...
I have no idea why I told myself that this was how it was going to be, but I well and truly had this plan concreted into my mind. It was probably because I wasn't an adventurous person and I desperately wanted to be. So I graduated! With a degree in Fashion Design I was ready to get started on my career in London, but I had zero funds and naturally moved back home. It was nice moving back to the place where most of my family lived and pretty much all my friends were. I didn’t realise how in love I’d fall with it, or how much I’d missed it.
When I first moved back my eyes were on the prize, and it was all leading up to me moving to London with David! I was determined to make it happen, because i'd always told myself that’s how it was going to turn out. The longer I stayed at home, I didn’t realise it- but I was bonding with the place I grew up. It’s not much of a county but the memories I hold here are so precious, and without realising I’d decided that I didn’t want to leave.
It took me such a long time to admit it to anyone, including David. I was on a good path with my career at that point, but David was stuck in retail, waiting for the opportunity to become a photographer in London. I felt so guilty that I bottled up my feelings and pretended I didn’t feel them. I felt so defeated that I’d gone against the plan! The big plan in my head that I couldn’t negotiate my way around. Why had I convinced myself this? It was ridiculous!
So you’re probably wondering (if you’ve got this far), what this has to do with a country park? Well, it was here that I admitted it. This is one of my favourite places to come as it reminds me of my Grandparents, and it’s such a beautiful place. Me and David had come for a walk one summer 3 years ago, and it was then realised that this would soon all be over…coming here. I realised how little I would see my family and friends, and actually that was really important to me! I wanted to settle down, buy a house, get married, have children! I didn’t want to waste time moving around…I wanted to make a home NOW!
So I sat on a bench with David in the country park, and sobbed my heart out. I admitted it all. I didn’t want to move anymore, I’m happy where I am…why should I feel bad about it!? He completely sympathised with me and understood, which made me so relieved! He could have said I was stopping him from doing something he wanted, but it turns out he wasn’t fussed about going either. And it wasn’t so bad in the end, as he has a great career in photography now!
3 years later I came back to the park with Ernie, David and my bestie Stace. This is going to sound mega corny, but walking round in the sunshine with the people I love makes me so happy about the life choices I’ve made. I’m actually really proud of myself for following my heart and not my head, which is hard for someone to do with anxiety! Why do we build up these expectations of ourselves, and beat ourselves up about it when it doesn’t work out?
Every time I come to this place, it reminds me that I’m exactly where I belong.
Thanks for reading!