I’ve always liked the idea of travelling on my own. I daydreamed of just up and leaving everything here and starting new overseas. These daydreams were my escape from life here, a way of distracting myself from everything that was making me unhappy. I never thought I could actually do it, so I was as surprised as my parents were when I jumped on the plane in July and studied at the University of North Carolina in America for six months. I can’t even begin to convey how incredible my experience was. I travelled all over America and I experienced what we typically see in the movies. So yes, the red cup parties, the frat/sorority life, the late night swing dancing through the fields, the deep fried food, the cliché flannel shirts and country accents, and of course the southern belles and gentlemen.
For me, this experience couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I was so dragged down by all the drama that came with being a 21 year old woman living in the rowdy scarfie lifestyle that all I could focus on was getting up and out of here. I started to believe that this place held nothing for me anymore, only judgemental glares, awkward situations, unwanted memories and tough decisions. I blamed my attitude and moods on this physical location: I looked to travel as a way to reinvent myself. I wanted to meet new people, try new foods and create new memories. For me the only way I thought this would be possible would be to run the hell away from everything that was going on here. But I realized that as cliché as it may sound, you can never really outrun yourself. You always lose at that game and I had to take a moment to stop blaming my physical location for my unhappiness and acknowledge that so far I wasn’t quite happy over here either. What it came down to was for me to finally stop distracting myself and actually addressing these issues. I had to stop trying to patch everything up by focusing on one hobby, partying and drinking numerous times a week and putting all of my love into other people to try and compensate for the lack of love I had for myself. In order to be truly happy I had to take a time out, acknowledge everything that had happened and assess whether I was proud of my decisions and whether I liked who I was becoming.
I say all of this to let you know that reinventing yourself does not mean that you have to get a fresh start. You don’t necessarily have to up and leave, travel the world to find yourself. I’m sure over the next few years I’ll lose my way a bit and I can’t rely on travelling to get me out of my slump and I certainly cannot always look to blame my physical location for my lack of happiness. I don’t want to be someone that settles for nearly happy, nearly alright, nearly okay, nearly there but not quite. I don’t want to have to keep holding on until I head off on my next location or holiday.
I now know I can rely on myself. I can take small steps to live up to my full potential, to become the person I know I am and to take each day as an opportunity to strengthen and focus on not only the love I have for my family and friends but for myself. The minute I started to take steps to achieve this I found myself surrounded by the most accepting, beautiful and compassionate people. I cannot stress enough that the moment I began to reconnect with myself, everything else began to fall beautifully into place and I spent the last 4 months overwhelmingly happy.
So if I can give one piece of advice from my experience over the past 6 months it's that you should honestly ask yourself if you are happy. If not, don’t daydream of a way out, don’t wait for a fresh start or a new location to reinvent yourself. You need to take the time out to make sure you are happy now. Make the tough decisions you’ve been avoiding. Remove people who provide more trouble and drama than good. Don’t look at this as rude, stubborn or immature, it’s the opposite in fact. Sometimes a friendship can no longer provide each individual with what they need and that’s okay. Right now you need to make sure you are treating yourself well. I know that in doing so you can than fully appreciate all of your beautiful family and friends. All in all, take the time out of each week to reconnect, be still and take care of you. This year we shouldn’t be running from anything. For once, let's slow things down a bit and not let life escape us. ▼