25 has been the strangest year of my life. Here are some thoughts and reflections that have run through my head this year, both positive and negative. I’ve been out of college for 3 years, working for the same company since graduation. Since then, I’ve lived in two states in New England. I’ve explored two different career paths. I’ve been following close friends and distant acquaintances on many forms of social media, seeing updates about engagements, weddings, babies, new jobs, new homes. I’ve lived with my brother for a year, and created some of my favorite memories. I’ve kept in touch with close friends, and I’ve lost touch with close friends. I’ve taken fun weekend trips. I’ve spent full weekends alone in my apartment. I’ve gone out on awkward and discouraging bumble dates. I’ve gotten in shape, I’ve gotten out of shape. I’ve eaten vegetarian for 2 years and discovered a love for Thai and Korean food. I’ve discovered new music. I’ve tried yoga, and for some reason stopped. I’ve traveled a bit, and felt a longing for more. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried. I’ve met some really great new people. I’ve struggled to make new friends. I’ve felt happy, alive and thriving. I’ve also felt alone, excluded and deep rooted loneliness. This is a lot, and definitely doesn’t cover it all. My biggest, most impactful thought this year, though, is that it is time for a change.
How many times was I going to mindlessly scroll through Instagram and Facebook, sifting through the “friends” and random accounts, all showing people that seem happier than me before realizing that social media is a dangerous place that breeds insecurity, and that there is no reason that my happiness should be measured that way?
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge some thoughts and feelings about social media. It is sad that this is the most top of mind subject, but I would be blatantly lying to myself if I didn’t acknowledge it. I am addicted to social media, and find myself picking up my phone for a scroll the minute my mind is not otherwise stimulated. I take pictures and post updates with the underlying purpose of sharing it for other people to see. I look to social media for validation, and for the purpose of feeling connected when I otherwise feel alone. This is embarrassing, but it is also the truth. I do not like how this makes me feel and would like to change that.
I also want to reflect on happiness levels. Social media fuels this mindset that everyone is having more fun that you, but I am aware enough to know that this is an illusion and it is also ridiculous. This year, I’ve acknowledged my own feelings of happiness in a variety of environments: at a football tailgate with 20 other people, on the couch drinking wine and watching GOT with my brother, sitting in the sun with my best friend at a local bar, alone seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. Your happiness is probably one of the only things in life that you can actually control, through focusing on mental well being and putting yourself in a physically enabling location, and it is time that I invested some energy into this.
I spent winter 2017-18 cooped up our apartment, with Cameron chirping in my ear to “do it”. At the time, I could not conceptualize what “it” was. Was it quitting my job for a new one? Was it moving to a new city? Was it finding a new hobby? Was it learning a new skill? I spent a lot of time online, looking into a variety of options from moving out west, to remote work in dropshipping/digital marketing, to teaching English abroad, to just moving abroad and figuring it out.
Finally, I landed on the Australian Work and Holiday Visa. It had my attention as an option for both work and travel abroad, so I took the first real steps towards initiating change in my life: development of the mindset. I’ve now grown to believe that mindset is the biggest barrier to change, big or small, and I am still working on this. You have to have the mindset that you can and will make a change in order to then acknowledge that every thing else that stands in your way is an excuse. A form of long-term travel had always been in the back of my mind; something I’ve always dreamed of doing when the time and finances were right. In addition to Cameron, my mom and dad were huge supporters of the change. I am fortunate that they are independently understanding and accepting of my seemingly never-ending need for something more, something new. They encouraged me to make the decision and act.
I did extensive research in May-June. I applied for my visa in July, and I booked my flight in August. I began selling my things and throwing away everything else that was meaningless to me. In the back of my mind, it still didn’t seem real. I could still always change my mind, but deeper down knew I would regret if I did. I knew I would be busy with work in September and that October would fly by after giving my notice. Here I am now, with 1 week left at work and 3 weeks left in the US. On November 14th, I will board a one way flight to Sydney and see where this journey takes me. I am scatter brained, yet focused. I cannot yet conceptualize what my life will look like for the next year, but I have underlying goals and ideas of what I want to accomplish. I am nervous and excited. My curiosity outweighs my fear.
At a maximum, I will spend a year in Australia and few months on the back end in Southeast Asia (a bucket list goal). As my mom likes to say, this can always change. I can come home in a week or a month or 6 months. Nothing is concrete or permanent with this change, and that is the beauty of it all. I am fortunate. I have saved money and it is mine to spend. Other people figure this out, and I can too.
I have an underlying desire for creative output that I have not yet figured out how to express. This is something I’ve struggled with for a while and still don’t know how to address. But I enjoy writing and I enjoy photos. I hope to document my time through writing and photos, but with the bigger goal of personal exploration and documentation for myself and for those who play an active role in my life. I want to document my movements, the people I meet, food that I try, emotions that I feel.
I also have a desire for knowledge and meaningful connection. I plan to spend time reading, and educating myself on important issues and subjects. I want to read classics and learn about world religion. I want to meet like-minded people and push my naturally introverted comfort zone. I want to connect with a higher source and achieve the level of self love and satisfaction that I know exists somewhere within me. I want to be happy without thinking about it, and have the awareness to then acknowledge that emotion when it does happen.
While these goals will take daily work and focus, I also want to let go a little bit. Be okay when something doesn’t go as planned, or when something comes up unexpectedly. Let people into my life whether it be for a day or a month or a year. Practice physical, verbal, and mental appreciation for everyone that leaves an impact on me. Have confidence that the people at home who I want to keep in my life, will continue to feel the same way about me from a distance.
I know that everything I am feeling today will be changing soon. My struggle with packing a single backpack and selling my furniture will not even cross my mind in a few weeks. I wanted to capture these feelings and emotions now, so that I can look back in a month or a year and reflect on my growth. I am excited for the challenges and changes that lie ahead and immeasurably appreciative of everyone who has supported and helped me get this far. 23 days until take off, and with just a few minor loose ends to tie up, I am ready.