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Bewildered ramblings from a daft designer floundering at the deep end of the creative pool.

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Restlessness And Why I Need To Get Out

/ Thoughts & Opinion

I’m 29, and I’m restless. Restless as all hell. This post is something I need to get in writing, it’s perhaps a futile attempt at catharsis, but if it helps, and it allows others to relate, or promote discussion of any sort, then so be it.

Aside from a five year eye-opening gauntlet-run stint in the delightfully awful city of Dundee for a fairly sub-par degree in something nobody cares about, and some questionable life-experience I’ve lived my whole existence braced against the wind in Edinburgh, Scotland’s windy, monument-studded capital city.

More and more over the last few years I’ve been getting that dreaded feeling that I’ve done Edinburgh. I’d say it’s given me all it can give – but that would play on some odd sense of entitlement that I don’t entirely feel should exist, but let’s say I’ve taken from Edinburgh all that I feel I can. People say “you make of it what you like” and personally, I feel that I’ve made of it what I can.

I’ve got in to a bit of a rut in Edinburgh, and there’s not a huge amount going on that I feel any real connection to any more [1]. Both from a design point of view and from a musical point of view (two of the key areas of my life). Those who I felt closest to in these particular areas are doing different things now, or have moved to other cities. Those who I once felt that I connected with the most, are now those who I feel don’t have time to spend entertaining my backward or ill-advised notions. In other words, everyone is getting on with their own thing and I feel like I’m lagging. (This is all rather self-indulgently pathetic, isn’t it?)

Don’t get me wrong, Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and as home towns go, it’s solid. It’s certainly not lost it’s charm for those visiting long or short term, or perhaps during one of the city’s multitude of festival seasons, and of course, it will always technically be home. This I cannot deny. And I’ve yet to determine if Edinburgh can even be remotely attributed to the way I’m feeling. It may be of little consequence, but in order to discover that, I need to change something.

Much like your family, you don’t get to choose where your home is. You just begin to exist there, and come to accept it as a given (or deny it as the case may be). You either make of it what you can, or you go elsewhere and chase some other ideal. I feel done with the former now, and I’m excited about the potential of the latter.

I don’t work in the same job I started my career in, I’m struggling to fuel any satisfying creative work in the evenings (this comes and goes), and I crave an escape of some sort. Relocation being my primary option.

Being fortunate enough to have a job that allowed me to work remotely, with a trusting boss who has been very understanding of my personal situations has meant that travelling in the USA has been very satisfying for me. I have met amazing people who I enjoy spending time with. I have experienced things that I’d never expected to even see in films or on TV, let alone exist through them. I’ve been to beautiful places and places that have opened my eyes to different ways of thinking and doing.

I feel I have reached the point in my life where it’s time to relocate (long overdue, even). The company I work for are expanding and have started business in the USA, and I have campaigned to become the guy that goes out there.

I used to see New York City in film and TV and dream about how bonkers it would be to live there. It seemed like some sort of unattainable situation for which I’d never see the reality. Au contraire, dear reader. All things going to plan I should be venturing out there some time in the next couple of months. Am I excited? Yes… Yes I am. If for nothing else, then for the fact that Summer might last more than a few days.

So the question now becomes about whether this relocation will end up helping me out of this rut. Mentally and physically it will be interesting. I don’t expect it to be an easy transition, nor do I expect to get everything right the first time round, but in moving and exploring things that I’ve not done or seen before, I’ll be promoting different ways of thinking and different ways of interacting. I hope to be inspired and entertained, but also motivated and moved by new things.

It may sound like I’m resting a change of mind on a change of environment. To some that may seems strange but I’ve noted that some of my most satisfying mental transformations have come about through a change of environment, and so perhaps I feel that in the absence of nurture; nature must take the weight until I can set the balance right again.

I’m not expecting some sort of miracle solution or some sort of life-changing epiphany, but I do intend to do a few things to contribute to feeling better:

I intend to try and foster new friendships whenever possible.
I intend to consider experiences and interactions more carefully and enjoy the fact that they may take my life in a new direction.
I intend to try and make as much of my new surroundings as I can.
I intend to take my health and well-being, as well as my appearance and happiness in the right direction.
I also intend to read and write more.

Although I try not to live a life of regret, I worry about my age (29 at the time of writing), and that I’m late to the moving-away game. I worry that I should have done this long ago, and I worry that I’ve not seen enough of the world, but as I often tell people who ask about why I’m not settling down:

“How do I know where I am is the best place to live, if I’ve not lived anywhere else?” [2]


[1] That is not to say there’s not a lot happening that is relevant. There is, but like a postman’s elastic band, my enthusiasm and connections to these things are waning and being stretched. I have even in the past described myself as “not a social designer”.

[2] I always wonder if the word best here should be replaced with the word right since the right place may not always be the best.

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Alex Cowles

About The Author: Alex Cowles

A largely cynical and often sarcastic designer and front-end developer by day. Unknown international DJ & music producer extraordinaire by night (and at weekends). You probably won't like him.