The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home. It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety. I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.
A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.
The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”
One day, I sat on a grassy hill with my boyfriend overlooking North Bondi Beach, one of the most iconic beaches in Australia. The sun was setting and we brought a blanket, take-out sushi and some ice cold hard ciders. It wasn’t a particularly special day but I remember our conversation perfectly and it’s basically when we decided that we were going to do whatever we could to stay here, together. For an independent. wanderlustful, travel bug victim of a woman this sensation felt strange to me. I came to Australia for a year of traveling and exploration on a working holiday visa, and then I planned to return back to America and start teaching again probably in NYC or somewhere on the East coast. The universe had other plans for me. I had to listen. I went with my gut. I started listening to myself, reflecting, writing, practicing yoga regularly, meeting and working with people who I connected with on a whole new level. I felt challenged, connected, and vulnerable but I also felt like I was on the right track. I felt and still feel pulled by the universe for something more. I want to share my story, my unique childhood and tremendously difficult experiences with grief and mental health. I want to share how I went from a graduate student who felt trapped in a system she didn’t agree with to a woman who didn’t care about systems. I want to share how moving to Thailand, traveling the world, and becoming an entrepreneur has opened my eyes to a whole new universe within our own. Traveling, writing, reading, inspiring, connecting- these are what I want my life to be full of. These are what I will make my life full of.
I can’t hope to condense the enormity of my feelings about the past year living in Sydney into one blog post. I don’t want to diminish any aspect of my journey, especially the struggle. I have committed to sharing one blog post per week since April, which I have to admit is harder than expected. I don’t want my blog to be full of fluff. I want to share my emotions, my musings, my struggles and the constant quest I am on for spreading ensusiasm everywhere I go. I continue to write because when I do, I feel like my truest self. When I write I feel like I am supposed to do this, I am supposed to say this, I am supposed to share. Traveling pushes me to my limits and pushed me out of my comfort zone to allow me the room to blossom into who I want to be. Or at least put me on the road to who I want to be. Traveling gave me the reason to start sharing my writing and the confidence to believe I had something to say.
But, the most beautiful realization I have come to in the past few months is that we all have something to say, someone we can inspire and a deep seeded desire to leave something behind. We all want to be heard and surprisingly, we all want to listen. The combination of experiences in my short life have given me the courage to use my voice, share my story and reflect on my journey- constantly and consistently. I am learning to let go of my over analytical mind and accept that finding your passion in life is not a direct flight. We are human beings. Passion evolves as your life evolves and life is a measure of your ability to adapt your behaviors and actions to match your ideals for success and happiness. You can’t see where you will be a year from now, but you can see what is right in front of you. When you take your life one passionate step at a time, treat each moment with enthusiasm, as if you are traveling and this is your last day in that city; you will find that a successful day becomes a successful month which turns into a successful year. Despite the inevitable ups and downs, if you treat your life like a enchanting adventure, that is what it becomes. But you have to take the step, you have to feel the fear, you have to believe that wherever you end up will be beautiful.
I have changed, grown and evolved so much in the past year but I am happy to say I still live each day with an open mind and an open heart. I have realized how desperately I need to spread this message because of all the things people read on the internet, see in the media or spend their time consuming- almost none of it is messages of hope, adventure, and control of your own destiny. Wherever you are in life, a year from now things could and will look completely different, it’s up to you to decide what kind of different that will be. I dare you to take yourself out to dinner. Not just a little diner or sub shop. Take yourself to a nice resturant. Turn your phone off. Order your favorite drink and a delicious meal. You’ll feel a bit awkward and wonder what people think about you, but I promise if you get past that feeling, you slip into, I want people to wonder about me, I have so much to offer the world and anyone would be inspired and connected if they joined me for this meal. Drink the wine, taste the food, and ask yourself: How will I make this year beautiful? What do I want to feel like when I take myself to dinner next year? I asked myself this a year ago on my solo date, and that anxious, excited little American teacher with her red wine and barramundi would be so proud. As I am traveling through this thing called life, every year I will go to dinner all by myself as a way to check in, reflect, and redirect my sails. Every year, I vow to embrace the discomfort, be proud of the company, and buckle up for the next adventure ahead. Cheers Sydney, can’t wait to see what the future holds.