For five years, which I now consider the busiest part of my life, I lived in one the busiest cities in the world. Looking back now, I wonder how I had survived the toxic conditions of the city. Had I known what I know now, certainly I would not have taken such a risk for a week, let alone five years.

Back then, my days were monotonously identical. I worked as a butcher and lived more than one thousand kilometres away from the abattoir. In order to beat the busy traffic, I must leave home before sunrise and would not return back home until close to midnight. In between this periods, I would butcher cows at the abattoir, take the meat down to shop another hundreds of kilometres away, and at the shop, tout for custom. It was a grinding routine that left me without much social life.

My city life experience was punctuated by many unsavoury episodes which left scary scars in my mind. Some of these episodes were my personal headaches while others were general problems. The general ones were merely part of the many challenges that come with living in a city.

One of such is the nerve-wrenching problem of living expenses. This was one of my most pernicious challenges. Though this was not about me alone, it was obvious that only the poor felt it. The rich out there were merely making more money, so they didn’t care what it cost to survive in the city.

From accommodation to transportation; from utility bills to medical bills, the list is inexhaustible.  From food to personal effects, everything is just so dare that my modest incomes could barely cater for my needs. This expectedly pushed me to work longer and harder in order to earn more. The result? Your guess is as good as mine.

There was also the false sense of anonymity that encourages addictions. We did many things we would not have done in our close-knit local communities. And many of those things are antisocial: smoking, drinking, night prowling etc. I

What about the insidious pressure to meet up with society-set standards, all of which are money driven. Except you’re making enough money to buy designer clothes, shoes, wristwatches, perfumes etc., you’ll feel socially ostracised. This is a freeway to depression.

Environmental issues top the pack of challenges bedevilling city life. But, for me, of all the environmental issues, noise pollution was my worst nightmare. The house I lived in was beside the road, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed my sleeps in this city that never slept. The road were literally busy till day break when it raised the gear.

Life was so chaotic I was disoriented. It was so bad that right under my nose I had friends, acquaintances, associates and even relatives steadily sinking into the gaping chasm of burnout, stress and alcohol addiction, but I didn’t know all these for what they really were then. In fact, I needed help as much as they did.

Thank goodness, events took a positive turn and I had to relocate. I was reluctant then (probably I was addicted to the ‘problems’), but now I realised it was a blessing in disguise. Relocating presented me with the opportunity to contrast urban life with rural life. Now I know what was wrong.

But am I saying everybody should leave urban for rural areas?

No. Despite everything, my sincere answer is no. While it’s apparent city life exposes dwellers to harm, it’s also impossible for everybody to live in the rural areas. What city dwellers need are some commitments.

It’s simple, set your own goals so that you don’t get distracted by the ruckus of the city. And make sure you review these set-goals according to current realities in such a way that they always align with what is obtainable in your life. Set your own pace, don’t allow the city to set the pace for your.

Create time for yourself, don’t overwork. During the set aside time, meet up with friends for a coffee. In fact, try to talk to random strangers and make more friends. Don’t limit your contact with friends to the social media, it’s not healthy.

Spend valuable time in the park, it gives you the opportunity to reconnect with nature.