April 22nd 2017. I remember that day vividly – the day I moved out of Leicestershire and start a new adventure 80-odd miles away in Worcester. A year on and I can confidently say that moving to Worcester was the right decision.
For the last week or so, I’ve been looking back at the last 12 months and I’d like to share my reflections with you.
The perfect location
With the River Severn running through its heart and the beautiful Malvern Hills just a short drive away, Worcester paints a stunning picture. The city centre is just a 20 minute walk from the house I share with my housemate, my landlord and his dog (yes, you read that right!), with my favourite route taking me down to and along the riverbanks. A perfect walk when the sun comes out!
Being so close to the city centre has given me a great sense of freedom. Though I love Leicester, getting there always involved either getting the bus or giving my car a run-out. Not that I mind that; it’s just being able to walk in saves the stresses of city centre driving and having to find a parking space!
The Hive, Worcester’s main library, is a pretty incredible place as well. Not only does it have shelf after shelf of books to check out but it is also a nice place to work as a freelancer. Oh and it has an amazing collection of paranormal and spiritual books! Perfect for me to explore.
It’s little surprise that it only took me a few months to start feeling settled.
Being welcomed to Worcester’s poetry family
One of the main reasons I wanted to move to Worcester was, quite simply, to try new things. I can safely say that I’ve managed that over the last year.
In September, I made my poetry performing debut. And what an experience! It still gives me great pride now. Naturally, I was pretty scared (hell, I was terrified!) but the crowd was so friendly and accepting. Now, some seven months later, I regularly take to the mic at two of Worcester’s poetry open-mic nights and I’m even a committee member for the city’s literary festival. I certainly didn’t see either of those happening this time last year that’s for sure!
Performing poetry has helped me develop as a person as well as a writer. Many of my poems discuss the difficulties I’ve had with my mental health – some of them in deep detail – and I still get nervous when I step up to the microphone, not necessarily because the eyes of the audience are fixed on me but more because of how personal they all are.
But the poetry family here is amazing. I’ve made some really close friends as a result performing and genuinely feel that I’ve been welcomed into a community where everyone has your back. I can share my rawest and most emotional thoughts with them in a place where judgement is banned!
And I don’t just mean through poetry either – I could send one of them a Facebook message and they’d be there to listen and help if they can, be that about a new piece I’m working on or just a chat. That works both ways too.
This week, as I was walking home after one of the open mic nights, that sense of being in a community really hit me and stayed within my core. And let me tell you, it’s an awesome sensation to have happen. It’s like you’re ‘complete’ somehow.
Building confidence and finding myself
As I mentioned (and have discussed a lot more in my previous articles), me and my mind haven’t always got along. But recently I’ve turned a corner, and I’m convinced that the move to Worcester has played a part in that.
I’ve had the confidence to do something I’ve never done before in my poetry performances and have found the freedom to simply live in the moment. At the end of March this year, I visited the famous stone pillars at Stonehenge – something else I’m not convinced I would’ve done last year – and it was during that visit that I started to realise that actually, I’ve come a long way in every sense and I’m feeling a hell of a lot stronger emotionally and spiritually.
Because of how confident I feel within myself, I have taken the significant step in telling my counsellor (who I’ve been seeing since before I relocated to Worcester) that I envision our sessions coming to an end in the not-too-distant future. I can’t describe how proud I am of myself for reaching this stage, especially when I look back at how I was during my darkest days. All I can say is that I'm in the best place mentally than I have been for months.
I’m no longer scared of what my mind can do. Because I know I have the strength and understanding to work with it instead of against it, and handle my emotions safely without becoming overwhelmed.
Thank you Worcester and thank you Leicestershire
Both Leicestershire and the city of Leicester will always have a special place in my heart. They raised me and began to shape me into the person writing this article you’re reading today. And you know what I do miss them both from time to time. Even now. But in order to really grow and find myself, I had to leave.
Worcester has taught me a great deal already and I’m looking forward to more experiences in the next 12 months. I’ll be promoting my freelance work at a business exhibition in Hereford next week and have started planning for my next poetry performance, as well as continuing my spiritual journey.
As I say in one of my poems:
“Leicester has my heart. Worcester is my home.”