WARNING: THIS POST WILL BE A VERY LONG ONE AND WILL INCLUDE WORDS OF WISDOM, SEVERAL CONCLUSIONS AND MOST LIKELY A LOT OF ****. SO.. GRAB A PEW, POUR YOURSELF A CUP OF TEA/COFFEE/HOT CHOCOLATE (DELETE AS APPLICABLE) AND ENJOY THE READ.
So.. I’m going home.
That’s right, folks. It’s home-time.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. Words cannot express how much Australia has changed me. I don’t know exactly how I’ve changed, but I can’t remember the person I used to be when I was living in London. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to be that person again anyway.
Going back to my first week in Australia, I had gone from having three of my friends by my side to being completely alone in the space of 3 days of stepping into Australia. Before you get the wrong idea, it was entirely my choice. I made the choice to leave the girls, and Rikki.. well, he made the choice to leave me.
I actually said to him in the car when we were waiting for the tow-truck to come and pick us up.
“You know that my family are going to kill you..? Leaving me all alone in Australia..” I tutted, raising my eyebrows and shaking my head disapprovingly at him.
“****. They probably will, won’t they? Ach, they’ll get over it.” He said. Or something like that.
I admit, when he said he was going back to Asia, I felt like I was suddenly pushed into a never-ending pit of voidness. What the hell was I going to do? Where was I going to go? Yes, I’m an independent woman – I can hold my ground. But to travel alone? For a year? In a country the size of.. well, Australia. That would take some balls.
As we both found out, the decisions we both made in our first week in Australia, would actually turn out to be one of the best decisions we will have ever made in our lives..
My second week in Australia, I made an interesting discovery. Whilst travelling from Byron Bay to Sydney with Andrew, I found myself spilling my guts out to him about why I left England, how I felt about it, and what I had hoped to have achieved in my year of being in Australia.
I had realised that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was. I thought I was going travelling because I wouldn’t be able go when I was older.
I realised that I was wrong.
I left because I wasn’t happy with some parts of my life.
Sometimes I’d get panic attacks.
What brought it on? Well, there were some people who would undermine me – I’d hear negative comments and put-downs, and it affected my confidence. Why they did it.. I have no idea. There could be several reasons for it. Maybe they didn’t realise they were doing it? Maybe it was classic transference – deflecting their own insecurities and negative thoughts onto me? Maybe they didn’t like me? Or maybe it’s because they’re a ****? I don’t know. I’m not going to psychoanalyse them. All I know is.. they were doing it, it’s not nice and I didn’t like it.
I suppose you could say that I didn’t realise how badly I was treated until I left..? That’s not to say that everyone treated me like ****. No, no.. far from it. I have amazing friends and I love them. But I think I needed to get away and find out who I really was. I needed to define myself, instead of letting other people do it for me.
When Rikki left, I was truly on my own. As terrifying as that was, it was also exhilarating.
‘When you’re travelling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.‘ – William Least-Heat Moon.
Fast forward a year later.
The year has been an amazing journey for me.
I’ve met people from all walks of life.
I’ve seen places so beautiful, it took my breath away. I’ve created friendships so strong that it’ll last a lifetime.
I found my confidence. I found my voice. I found my bravery. I found love. I still haven’t found my iPhone though.. *******ing taxi driver. But most importantly, I found myself.
I’ve learnt so many things about myself and people around me. I’ve come to realise some ugly truths – about myself and others. Irrational doubts and issues reared its ugly head, and I faced it head on. I’ve also realised my strengths. I’ve come to admire my morals, conviction and I appreciate my determination.
I’ve realised that sadly, some people may not treat me with kindness and care. While I may not be able to change that, what I can change is how often our paths will cross and what my own reactions to it will be. There is a place in everyone that yearns to love and be loved, that longs to be safe, that wants to treat others and ourselves with respect. Unfortunately for some, sometimes that place is buried underneath layers of fears, old wounds, cynicism and pain that they use to protect themselves from injury. But I think being out here has made me realise that forgiveness is about choosing happiness over hurt.
So.. when I come back, it’ll be a fresh new start – for myself and everyone. If the fresh start happens to fall on deaf ears (excuse the pun), then I will wish them luck, let go of them and go my own way.
Letting go isn’t giving up. It’s about being determined to live life with the intention to be your best self. So you have to do whatever it takes to get there. You won’t ever get there though. Not really. But what you can do is stop being who you aren’t.
In order to do that, you have to make mistakes.. and learn from them. I know I’ve made plenty of them and I will still continue to make them. I know I’m not perfect. But I do know that it’s important to take some time out every now and then to just… stop… and take stock of everything. Stop and stare off into space. Into the middle distance, squint my eyes and wistfully stroke my imaginary goatee. This is when I have my best ideas, my deepest insights, and realisations.
Whatever cerebral understanding we apply to our lives, we have to remember that there will always be a constant theme recurring – our need for support and love. This is what I’ve found whilst in Australia. Support and love.
The year has been a series of highs and lows. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. On one end I’ve experienced happiness, falling in love, passion, and all that. On the other end though.. I’ve had to to deal with loneliness, death, frustration, and confusion.
I’ve been in tears because I missed home so much, and I’ve been in tears because I didn’t want to leave Australia. I’ve been a shoulder to cry on, and I’ve cried on people’s shoulders. I’ve helped people out when they’ve had nothing and vice versa.
As much as I’ve had to deal with the ****** lows, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I believe that everything happens for a reason. The ****** lows have made me stronger, braver and slightly more emotionally intelligent, I guess..?
I’m typing this in a cute cafe around the corner from where I currently live. An hour ago, I saw a woman with a pram and a child struggling to open the door, so I stand up and go to open the door. The children run in and scream excitedly. There isn’t enough room in the cafe so the woman asks me if they could sit with me. Of course they can, I tell her. She goes off to buy hot chocolate and cookies for them.
“Hi! What are you doing?” the girl asks me. “I’m doing some writing.” I say. The mother returns and apologises to me. I smile at her. “Don’t be sorry. They’re cute. What’s your name?” I ask them. ”I’m Martha.” “Oh! Hi, Martha! And what’s yours?” I ask the little boy. “Bum-bum!” He shouts at me. I raise my eyebrow at him
dubiously. “His name is Daniel. I’m four and he’s two.” Martha tells me. The mother returns with the snacks and goes to get some books for them to read.
“I have a smarties cookie. What colour is your favourite?” Martha shows me her cookie. “Oh, I like the pink one. What about you?” “This is my favourite colour.” She points to the orange one. “This is my favourite colour.” She also points to the yellow one. “This is my favourite colour.” She points to the brown one.
This goes on until she has run out of colours to point to.
The mother returns with the books and apologises for the interruption again. I smile at her and tell her it isn’t a problem. I have a strange feeling but I can’t figure it out. The table next to us has become vacant. She tells the children to move to the next table and tries to pick Daniel up. He cries and demands that he stays at this table. Martha runs to the next table and moves her chair right next to me, and whispers to her mother, “I want to sit here. Right next to her…” and points her thumb at me. She hands me her book and says, “Will you read this book to me?” My heart melts. The mother tells Martha to leave me alone and to let me get back to my writing. I am actually more than happy to carry on talking to them, and I tell her that.
Daniel also hands me his book about animals and says, “Elephant!” but he also lifts his arm up and pretends it’s a trunk.
That’s it. I knew what the funny feeling was.
“Are you deaf?” I ask the mother.
“Yes, I am.”
I wanted to say, “You sick ****er!” (why is that always my first response?) but I refrain from doing so.. instead, I say, “So am I! Do you live around here? I’m Abigail, by the way.”
“I’m Sarah, and yes.. I do. I live just up the road. I’m actually from England. I moved here about two and half years ago. London, actually.” She smiles. “Really? I’m from London too!” I exclaim.
I then do the Deaf thing all deafies do – the six degrees of separation experiment to assess if we might have met each other before or if we have friends in common.
I start with the most common one of all..
“What school did you go to?”
“Get out! I went there as well!”
Well, I didn’t actually tell her to get out. We ended up having a good talk for an hour about where we grew up, what we did, who we knew, why we moved to Australia, and so on. Then she had to leave to take the children to kindergarten. It’s amazing how a simple gesture like opening the door for a stranger results into making a new friend with someone who went to the same school as you.
This chance meeting reminded me of a quote.
‘I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because, how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realised, you just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.’ – Augustus Burroughs.
That’s what I’ve come to realise whilst I’ve been away. You have to always put yourself out there, no matter how scary it may be.
“I’m afraid to fail…”
“What if i’m not good enough?”
“What are they going to say about me?’
”Are people going to think I’m weird?”
“What are people going to think of me?”
The list of worries goes on and on.
We will always be swimming in the ocean of self-criticism. We all have fears. But guess what? It’ll always be there. You’ll never know until you try. When you try, you’ll know. Simple as.
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.. and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ – Martha Williamson.
Why am I going home?
I admit, it does feel like I’m ripping my heart into pieces. I don’t ever want to leave. But I’ll know where home truly is when I go back.
I don’t know what the future will hold for me. All I know is that now is the moment. The past and the future will always be important, but if we spend too much time in the past or the future, we will miss what is happening right in front of us.
I want to thank everyone I’ve met for being a part of my life whilst I’ve been in Australia. The ones that have made me laugh, the ones that have been there for me whilst I cried, the ones that gave me food and a shelter over my head when I needed it, the ones who have helped me out without having to be asked.. you’ve made my year amazing.