A Celebration of Project #365LDNCafes
In celebration of Project #365LDNcafes coming to a close, I've put together 5 things I've learned throughout the journey. Maybe it'll inspire you to pick up a side project?
Today marks the final day of Project #365LDNcafes.
I’m pretty much in shock. There’s a bit of relief mixed in there too. But mostly I’m really friggin happy. Friggin proud I didn’t give up. Friggin impressed with what I’ve accomplished. I know, it’s hard to drink coffee and nosh on cake all day…
But it’s more than the obvious. In fact, this is what it looks like:
If you remember when I started this one year ago, I said the idea came to me when I was feeling sluggish and lethargic. But I’d always feel more positive about life after walking to a café and treating myself. This project would be part of my pursuit of happiness, allowing me to uncover places in London I’d never venture to. I expected to discover some fascinating interior designs, explore the art of plating and meet new people. Explore something new each day.
And all of that happened.
But I learned even more.
1. Cafes are familiar
There are destination places. And then there are local favourites. Trekking across town for a café is hard to justify unless you have a reason to do so. In fact, out of 365, I’d only go out of my way for 48 of them. That’s 13%. And there are still 134 more cafes in London to explore. And I have every intention of making my way there. Slowly.
You tend to love a café for varying reasons. The food. The coffee. The baristas. It feels like your second home. A place you can go to in your PJs. A café is built for familiarity. That’s its selling point.
2. Doing something every day is hard. Like really hard.
It’s not that I don’t like commitment. I see commitment as a priority. If it’s a priority, you’ll make time for it. If it’s not, then it’s not something you’re passionate about.
I mentioned before how this project was akin to a relationship. You’re obsessed and excited in the beginning. You are more than willing to go out of your way and build in extra time. You even sleep less. But then life happens. And there are days when even the most exciting thing or person in your life you just need a break from. The spell might even last for a few weeks, months or years. But over time as you keep trying, keep committing yourself, you fall in love with it again. And you realise that grit is what gets you through. And maybe some cake.
3. London is incredible
London’s landscape is vast. Each neighbourhood has a unique style of home. There are some very rugged areas. Some places where it even feels like I’m in the depths of a forest in Germany. The greater concentration of ‘attractive people’ is in South London… There is no café that feels the same even if some look similar because of the varying clientele they attract. Rain makes London look so different. Most of the places I’ve seen will remain untouched by the majority of Londoners. There’s really no reason to venture down to Tooting is there? Give yourself an excuse to explore neighbourhoods. Especially if you have some serious wanderlust but a bank account that’s like lol, girl please.
4. I’m healthier
As ironic as this sounds given I started the project to pursue happiness when I felt lethargic and weak, it didn’t help my health. And not helping my health didn’t help my happiness.
Let me explain. Obviously I was über excited to have any excuse to stuff brunch and doughnuts into my gob. But by February I had a permanent sore throat, bloated gut, and may have even had a “omg I have diabetes” moment, “Please Lord I will never have sugar again if you let me come out of this diabetes free.” Yaaaap that happened.
So I actually went completely off sugar AND caffeine. Caffeine. Eye roll. I still had 6 more months of cafes to visit. FFS. I lost motivation and love for the project, but I needed to let my body repair itself. Even though I was a moody b*tch in the beginning, what I’ve realised now is that my infectious energy and positivity from March-May was because I let my body heal. I brought my hormones back into balance. I poured the right nutrients in. And that’s when the happiness really came. It’s incredible how sugar and dairy affect my skin, fitness performance and concentration. It’s been proven now. As great as it was to drink and eat all that I did for “research purposes,” I need to put myself first now.
5. I will open a café
I am so grateful to all of you who have supported me on my journey. I’ve gotten so many wonderful notes, tokens of thanks and much needed encouragement. I’ll take a much needed rest before churning out some guides to exploring the London café scene this year.
Edit 29th September, 2017: Listen to my interview on #TCTalks podcast for Project #365LDNcafes.