It really is okay to feel okay

Welcome all to Nic’s blog. Snow flurries, sunshine and the cherry trees in bloom along the streets. It’s spring, and freedom…soon.

I was talking to my extremely patient former Unseen Tours mentor recently, which brought back memories of how I and Unseen Tours initially got together.

Since moving to London in 1997, I became slowly aware of my fascination with social history being reawakened. I also became aware that I was slowly starting to feel part of London, after years of being separate from so much in life. 

Always having an eye for a notice board or odd snippet in a paper or conversation, Unseen Tours caught my attention. I’ve mentioned in a previous Post about how it took some time before I felt ready to start creating my walk. I never imagined it would be another two years before I felt ready to hit the streets, with customers!

Self confidence has always been a huge problem for me, despite how I may appear on the surface, which gave me the idea of creating a walk that looks behind the masks of others.

A couple of obvious facts that make my life easier:

  • Never to assume: most of us do but don’t like to admit it! Since being in hostels and rehabs, I make assumptions much less; the sheer diversity of London and my tours has a similar effect. From the flamboyant, angry, scary, trustworthy, smiling…so many faces, we send messages out for whatever reason, maybe just to survive, or indeed, sometimes we are exactly what we seem to be. Complicated creatures!
  • Turn anxiety into adrenaline: I am never going to fundamentally change, so I have to adapt with help of those around me, whether they are aware of it or not. Family and friends are very important to me; they may not be with me physically, but they are still there. Mainly, I have learnt to be myself and I’m okay with me for the first time in years. Still scared now and again, but that’s life.

If anyone is thinking of becoming a tour guide, I would suggest:

  • Don’t rush to put it together, be observant. Remember that an interesting fact or story can come from out of the blue. Research your facts (there is often another take on the story in your head, which actually adds to the delight), be flexible and open with people – I can be wrong!  
  • This is truly painful, but you will have to leave some stories out of your tour (no matter how intriguing), or the walk will become a drag for people. Walking and listening can be exhausting, especially when people are on holiday and have a lot to do. 
  • Which brings me to the last point: check if anyone has plans for afterwards. Two hours is the plan unless prior arrangements with a group are made. People are generally (yes, I include my dear readers) polite and don’t like to say anything but I have learnt to see the signs of desperation on faces when they would like me to shut up and wave a cheery goodbye (I apologise profusely to anyone I have inadvertently done this to!).

Wishing a spring in the step for you all!

Here’s to freedom and curiosity.

Warm wishes,