Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Shunning prospects in London for familiarity in Dublin

London may have a glamorous publishing industry and exciting prospects, but it’s not for me right now. I love my life in Dublin and I was on the verge of emigrating before I realised it, writes Vicky Notaro.

Thu, Jul 26, 2012, 01:00

London may have a glamorous publishing industry and exciting prospects, but it’s not for me right now. I love my life in Dublin and I was on the verge of emigrating before I realised it, writes Vicki Notaro.

Vicky and boyfriend Eoin

I handed in three months notice in April, fully intent on moving to London. Not because I was dying to live in the UK or had a job secured, but because I wanted to leave the job I’d been doing for four years and spread my wings. However, in my mind, in order to do this I had to “go away”. Nobody was leaving their lovely job to stay in Ireland, right? That was crazy talk, seeing as we’ve all been told there are no positions, opportunities or money here. I wanted and needed a change, but in order to effect it I felt I must leave the country. I look back now and think how sad that is.

In 2008, I scored my dream job while I was still in college. It was the tail end of the boom, and typically precocious I was eager to get on the career ladder despite the fact that I still had a year of my degree left. I was hired as a writer on KISS Magazine on the strength of an impassioned email, and simultaneously attended classes, took exams and wrote my dissertation. I was interviewing celebrities, trialling cosmetics, writing about the issues facing teens and going on photoshoots. I couldn’t believe my luck.
The same weekend I started my job at KISS I moved in with my boyfriend, and it was idyllic. We were living away from home for the first time and loving it. Then in May 2009, Eoin lost his job when the recession reared its head, and the building industry and life as we knew it ground to a halt. For the next almost two years he survived (barely) on contract work with long, protracted gaps and social welfare, while I tried to support us on my entry-level salary. We could have moved home to our respective families but that didn’t seem like an option at the time, so on we trundled.
The funny thing is, there was never a question of us emigrating even though Eoin, an electrician, could have got work in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the Middle East. It was like there was an unspoken agreement between us that because I loved my job and was “doing well”, there wasn’t a hope I was going to leave it. I had my foot wedged in the door, and my hand on a rung of the career ladder. I wasn’t getting off.
I was promoted in late 2010 to deputy editor, and in 2011 Eoin got a permanent job. We had money again, and everything should have been hunky dory, but I was getting itchy feet. By Christmas last year, I knew I had to make a change, and we talked about moving abroad together – to New York (where I would go in a heartbeat if it weren’t for those pesky visa issues), to Toronto, to Sydney. They all had pros and cons, but became complicated when Eoin was hospitalised in February due to his type-one Diabetes. Not only would that make things more difficult visa-wise, it also shifted our perspectives about being far away from home.
I decided on London, even though Eoin wasn’t hot on the idea. I told myself that it was where I needed to be, that we’d manage and that everything would be fine. I handed in my notice, and the plan was that I’d go and Eoin would follow when I had a secure job rather than both of us giving up work – once bitten by the recession, forever shy. It all sounded fabulous in theory, but for some reason it wasn’t sitting right with me. After months of jollying myself along and dismissing my misgivings as nerves, I realised that it wasn’t Ireland that was the problem, but me. I needed a change, but I definitely didn’t need to emigrate alone and start all over again somewhere nobody had a breeze who I was. I told everyone I was waiting to move until after the Olympics madness died down, but the reality was I was just buying myself more time.
So I backed out. After telling everyone I was moving to London, I realised I didn’t actually have to. They weren’t going to hold me to it, and who cared if I looked weak or cowardly? I wasn’t going to uproot my entire life against my own will because of a foolish pride. I decided to stay put and go freelance, see if I could make a go of things here. When I put feelers out, I was amazed at the reception. It showed me that if you’re good, willing and eager, there are opportunities and sometimes, it’s braver to stay and soldier on rather than run away seeking the unknown.
I love my life in Dublin, and am obviously more of a homebody than I previously thought. London may have a glamorous publishing industry and exciting prospects, but it’s not for me right now, and that’s okay. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Ireland forever, but I’m not fleeing either. I feel happy and calm these past few weeks since I decided to stay, and at peace. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m hoping it all works out. Wish me luck.