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'London is the lonely city' - Diana Bucini is happy to be back in Dublin

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Presenter Diana Bucini. Photo: David Conachy

Presenter Diana Bucini. Photo: David Conachy

Presenter Diana Bucini. Photo: David Conachy

Jetting to London to pursue the career of your dreams is a well-trodden path for ambitious millennials. But former RTE presenter Diana Bucini says the reality can be different.

Now back living in Ireland for the past six months, the rising star said the big city anonymity makes London a harder nut to crack than people are willing to admit.

After working and living on her own in the UK for two years, she says: "I found London quite the lonely city. I wouldn't have been broadcasting out on social media. It was something I very much kept to myself because I suppose in some sense I felt a little bit ashamed that I felt lonely because I kept telling myself 'I am in this amazing city, everyone is telling me how incredible it looks', but the reality was things are glossier on social media.

"I thought 'God I am so privileged to be living here and yet I feel guilty because I am feeling this loneliness, which is only natural. I think anyone who moves away, especially to a city like London, a city of millions and millions, you feel at your most vulnerable because there is nobody who is that familiar really."

The freelance structure of many millennials' lives also made it hard to build a support network. "I found it difficult to make friends because I was working freelance so I didn't have a base that I went to every single day. I also lived alone so I just felt unless I was out reporting or working a junket on a red carpet or producing, I found it quite isolating."

The Moldovan-born presenter decided to rid herself of illusionary comparisons. "One of my ways of coping was literally just deleting my social media and it really worked in my favour because instead of sitting at home feeling lonely, fretting that my friends were doing this and that or the other, I was able to focus."

She also decided to turn her challenge into a positive by writing her first book The Pursuit of Awesome, which won an Attitude Changer title at U Magazine's #30under30 awards.

She then used her personal experience to pitch a series to the BBC.

"Using that experience I pitched my series Addicted To to the BBC, which got commissioned as a series of pilots with the BBC iPlayer. I explored social media addiction and its effect on our body image and mental health."

She says: "I feel, because I went through that, I was able to know what I was talking about because I had lived it and experienced it."

Now 30, the presenter is back living in Dublin working in journalism, and says millennials have a tendency to put pressure on themselves to be living their 'best life'. Sitting in The Merrion's Garden Room, at the launch of Holly White's new vegan menu, she says: "When you are young and there is a world of possibility out there, I almost feel like you are being judged if you admit to feeling a little lonely. It's like 'what have you got to moan about?' But it's a completely natural thing when you are in a new city and not having people that you know."

She adds: "In London I think I internalised a lot of those things because I felt like I should be leading my best life, but the reality of leading your best life is knowing that no one is leading their best life every moment of the day and social media sometimes warps that."

Last year, a study found that greater numbers of young people are leaving home to live in cities, meaning family ties are being weakened, contributing to a "growing problem of loneliness" among 20-somethings.

The Intergenerational Foundation also found that despite the connecting power of Facebook and Instagram, close friendships have declined by more than 6pc in the past decade.

The experts said this indicated that while young people were spending large amounts of time online, they were not necessarily using this time to form meaningful friendships.

Sunday Independent