Well, well, well. What a year it was! 2016 was a really big one for me. A big, messy, crazy, spontaneous, horrible, fantastic year. A lot of things happened. So many things, in fact, that when I look back it’s hard to believe that it all happened in just one year. I’ll never really know if the decisions I made were the right ones but things are going pretty well at the moment so I’d hazard a guess that I did an okay job.
One big thing that happened in 2016 – I ACTUALLY stuck to a New Year’s resolution. Crazy, I know! A resolution I know many of us, including myself, make every single year – I lost weight! In 2016 I managed to shed seven kilos. This was a huge deal for me. I have five more to go before I hit my goal weight… but the point is I got started and I made a massive difference in my life. The gym is somewhere I actually really enjoy being these days and that in itself is a huge accomplishment for the person I was twelve months ago.
Another big thing to happen in 2016 – I booked my first solo overseas trip. After dreaming about travelling again since I came back from my school trip to Italy in 2011, I have finally followed through and I am now less than a month away from my departure to Japan. This big thing couldn’t have happened without the BIGGEST thing to happen in 2016…
In June I moved back to Cairns and left my Sydney life behind. This was by far the most life altering thing I have done in the last four years. I definitely didn’t take the decision lightly… but as I was crying into my lunch after being treated badly at work and feeling like I had absolutely no one in Sydney to talk to, I called my mum and said “I’m quitting my job this afternoon and I’m moving home in two weeks”. The next two weeks were a crazy whirlwind. Saying goodbye becomes really hard once you realise what you’re leaving behind. I struggled a lot with depression and anxiety in Sydney and I had some really great friends who did all they could to be there for me. I also had my entire adult life there – when I moved I had only just turned seventeen! But I did it. I packed up half my life and threw the other half in the bin, I packed the back of my Honda Jazz, and I drove all the way from Sydney to Cairns.
I’ve been back for seven months now and I have already achieved so much more in those seven months in Cairns than I ever would have in Sydney. I have booked and paid for a three week vacation in Asia, I was one of the lead characters in an original musical, I have been at my new job for six months (and I LOVE it), I turned 21 and got to have a night out with some of my very best friends, and I am actually really, genuinely happy – that last one is a big deal.
So here’s what I learnt from 2016:
- You aren’t happy? Say so, and change whatever is making you sad.
- A road trip on your lonesome can be extremely therapeutic.
- Just because you have to put a dream on hold doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
- Your job isn’t meant to be emotionally difficult – if it is, something is not okay.
- Heartbreak hurts just as much the second time but you will rebuild much faster.
- You can’t plan your whole life. You just can’t.
- It is possible to be homesick for a place you didn’t even realise was home.
- Fierce female friendships are the most important ones when in your early twenties.
- Life is extremely short – it’s time to start living the way you really want to.
- Don’t waste time with someone who doesn’t really and truly make your cells dance.
Okay. After another few months of being totally rubbish at writing, I am back and here to stay!
(I say that every time, so let’s just see how we go… I really do love it here though, I swear!)
The reason for my sudden return?
Well, I thought it very important that I come back and shout to the world that I finally did it!
A couple of months ago, on the fifth anniversary of my last international departure (when I was lucky enough to travel to Italy with my high school Italian class), I finally booked my flights for my first ever solo international adventure! SOLO! In February – that’s next month! – me, myself, and I will be heading to ASIA for the trip of a lifetime. I will be setting off to explore Japan, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Over the moon is an understatement!
Originally I had planned to go to Europe for my first solo trip but when I came across the Asian Adventure Contiki tour I immediately fell in love. The idea of the cultural experience, the amazing Asian foods, the more affordable budget, and the much shorter plane trip had me singing Hallelujahs all the way to Flight Centre.
The Contiki actually only includes the three countries within South East Asia, but just before I booked I came across return flights to Osaka, Japan for only $250! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Japan so I tacked it on to either end of the trip.
I will fly into Osaka, where I’ll stay for two days, before heading to Thailand to start the Contiki tour. The Contiki will move through Thailand to Laos and then Cambodia, and once the tour finishes in Cambodia, I will fly back to Osaka for a ten hour stopover before flying home. Here’s to a year of amazing travel, starting with my very own Asian Adventure!
This is a post I wrote a while ago which I shared on my personal Facebook page. I would really like to share it again because the content means so very much to me.
This week is Mental Health Week, so I thought I would share this. Although I am usually quite open about my personal mental health battle, I know that this is not the case for many people who struggle. It can be extremely frightening to open up about something with such a negative stigma surrounding it. There is still so much to learn when it comes to mental health and mental illness, but I find that every story shared is a step forward in the journey of defeating the stigma.
When I first noticed the symptoms of depression & anxiety creeping into my life I had no idea what to do. It was my first year living away from my family and friends and I didn’t feel that I had made any particularly strong relationships in Sydney. Being ‘alone’ with depression is a terrifying experience. I put quotation marks around the word alone because I felt alone even though I didn’t have to be. I pushed people away because I was afraid of social situations. I wasn’t the bubbly, fun and outgoing person I had always been, and I was constantly anxious about having to be around people. I didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning, the anxiety was that paralysing. I had become a very different version of myself.
The first person I’d chosen to share my struggles with, after months of keeping it bottled up, was my best friend. She’d had experience with depression herself, which I will never forgive the world for giving her, but for me it meant not only did I have someone who loved me unconditionally, but also someone who knew firsthand exactly what to say when I needed it the most. There is nothing that upsets me more than thinking of how she had to go through the early dark days without me being able to properly understand, but knowing that she would be able to be there for me was a godsend. The first time I told her I was worried that I had developed depression she sent me this passage:
‘This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guys shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?”. The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father! I’m down in this hole, can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me! Can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”‘
(You can see why she’s my best friend. What a keeper. When she sent me the photo I cried happy tears because I knew if I was lucky enough to have a best friend like her nothing in my world could really be so bad. I love you Hanna.)
In hindsight there are actually a lot of wonderful people who would’ve sat with me and had a chat – I just had to speak up. But depression clouds your judgement in a way I can’t explain. Depression will lie to you and tell you that the people around you don’t care and that you will just be a burden on them. Please – PLEASE – don’t let it lie to you. Please know that I will always be here for you. I don’t care who you are or how well we know each other. If you need me, I will always be there to jump into the hole with you.
“I wish you knew how normal your feelings are, and how universal your struggle is. You are so not alone. You couldn’t be alone if you tried.”
Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not in character.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of.