How to Focus on YOUrself in the Big City

By Megan Lillick

Illustration by Liz Reddinger

Are you just a small town girl, living in what feels like a lonely world? Well, you’re not alone, especially when Don’t Stop Believing plays at the end of the night, you’re drunk, and all you want to do is belt out the lyrics. Sing it loud and proud, girl! Tipsy Tory sure is.

Big cities like Berlin have this forlorn effect on people sometimes. Whether you absolutely love big city living and deliberately moved here for this specific reason, or are Nancy Nature who ended up here by circumstance, life in a bustling metropolis can make you feel alone at times.

It seems ironic, to feel this way in such a buzzing city full of life and culture. It’s because these days the acronym FOMO puts social pressure on the individual to get out there and do it all; to attend every single event every day of the week, to hit up all the clubs because the city’s renowned for its techno scene; to get a job in tech because Berlin’s one of Europe’s biggest tech hubs; or else, you’ll be missing out on everything the city has to offer.

I’m here to tell you to forget FOMO. Don’t even consider it. Not one bit. Just consider YOU. What makes you happy? What do you like to do for fun? Is it dancing your socks off for ten hours straight? Then dance, Queen! Is it enjoying a tasty beer at a local craft brewery? Then cheers to flavorful beers! Or maybe you prefer the peace and quiet as you piece together a puzzle by your lonesome. Whatever it is, do what makes you YOU!

Having been living in Berlin for three years now, I’ve realized it’s easy to get swept up in all the goings-on. It can seem especially overwhelming, if you’re new to the city. Because during those early days, you’re in tourist mode and everything is so new and exciting. But once the novelty fizzles and you remember you’re a local and have more than a long weekend to experience it, there’s no rush to do it all or even to do it at all.

Anyway, I thought I would offer up some personal recommendations of mellower alternatives to the fast-paced things going on in Berlin. These worked for me to keep my head up and happy, so take or leave them because again, you gotta focus on YOUrself! Do what you need to do to have fun, stay physically and mentally healthy, and get ahead in your career.

Fun alternatives to the club scene

We all know Berlin is known for its club scene; from the infamous Berghain to all those ‘underground’, but there’s another scene out there that offers good times and guaranteed laughs. It’s the Berlin comedy scene! For instance there’s my favorite, the Comedy Cafe Berlin that hosts shows six nights a week. They even have a school for those interested in learning and becoming pro in the craft of improv and stand-up. I took a couple classes and made tons of hilarious friends. Just google ‘English Comedy Berlin’ and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the places to go and talent to watch. If you’re into laughing or making others do so, check out or be a part of the growing comedy scene in Berlin.

Another scene that’s thriving rapidly here is the craft beer scene. Thank goodness! Three years ago was a different story. Having just moved from the Mecca of craft beer in the PNW, my partner and I were disappointed with the lack of the craft in town. But since then, we have found our favorite craft beer bars like the Muted Horn, Lager Lager, Hopfenreich, Protokoll, Monterey Bar, and craft breweries like BRLO, Bierra, Vagabund, and Stone Brewing to get our beer with flavor fix.

Join a club (no need to go to one) and get physical

If you’re not cutting a rug on Berlin’s clubs’ dance floors to stay in shape or working on your six-pack through belly laughs at the Comedy Cafe Berlin, Urban Sports Club (USC), is an sports club. Becoming a member on its platform will open up plenty of options to break a sweat. From bootcamps and bouldering, to swimming and squash, you’ll be sure to find YOUr sport.

Speaking of sports, for those Nancy Natures out there, Komoot is an awesome platform to get you navigating in nature outside with its detailed hiking and biking trails all over the outskirts. There really is so much more to explore within an hour or 90 minute train ride from Berlin.

Calm the mind

The overstimulation of a big city can be exhausting for consciousness.There are plenty of apps to help recenter yourself and thoughts, but for those of you on USC, I recommend joining the meditation classes and gong baths. No, I’m not getting paid to plug USC nor do you get naked for a gong bath. You just listen to a musician play the gong, which is super soothing for the soul and a way to quiet the mind.

If you still can’t get into meditation (trust me, it still seems like a chore when I do it), and unable to defuse your funk, talk to a professional. Whether you need a doctor or a counselor, there are plenty of options depending if you’re in the public or private health insurance network. I personally prefer seeing my Grinberg Method practitioner regularly for the unique combination of talk therapy, body awareness, breathing exercises, acupressure massage and savasana. Yes, all that is in an hour-fifteen minute session. I leave feeling light as a feather! Interested? Just google ‘Grinberg Method Berlin’ and you’ll see there are plenty of practitioners to choose from.

Pamper YOUrself

You deserve it! A good thai massage and sauna sesh are two of my favorite ways to pamper myself. Luckily, being in a big city, there are many massage studios and saunas peppered throughout. I recommend Thantawan for the best thai massage in town, and Vabali for its cozy vibe and exquisite saunas. Depending on your membership with USC, you can even attend some saunas and treat yourself to 30 minute long massages. Of course, a hot bath at home is also my favorite low-budget option, if you’re so lucky to have a tub in your apartment.

Make something of YOUr career

If you want to get ahead in your career or change careers completely, Berlin’s networking scene is the place to be and do it. Every day and night of the week there are hundreds of networking and Meetup events to choose from. But if you narrow your search, you’ll be sure to find an event in the industry you’re trying to climb up in or dive into. And always remember, if you’re not one to get out there on your own, we always recommend grabbing your fellow clusterettes, or get out there and make some friends, to bring along with. It’s more fun that way!

Don’t stop believing in YOUrself!

Whatever you do, don’t give up. And most importantly, don’t try and be anyone YOU’re not. Berlin is for everyone and there’s something for everyone whether you’re a DJ, PM, LBGTQ, Plain Jane, or simply just YOU.