Why Looking Back Is Important

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Three years ago my life sucked, I was stuck in an apartment in my uni town. My friends had all left for the summer and my flat mates were barely home. I was nursing a broken heart and spiralling in to a bit of a mess – quite happily letting myself wallow in self-pity. Until a mixture of things made me stop and realise there was no need for all of this. It wasn’t getting me anywhere.

“Stop waiting for things to happen go out and make them happen”

And so that is what I did, I ordered brochures, spoke with companies and by June I had booked myself on to a volunteering experience for five weeks in South Africa. I don’t really know what gave me the courage to make this decision. Hell I had never been to London by myself let alone half way around the world, what was I thinking? Terrified of what I had gotten myself in to, I spent a summer working my butt off to save the money for my trip and then on the 1st of October 2010 I walked through security at Gatwick airport, said goodbye to my parents and boarded a plane to South Africa. Getting on that plane I was crying with nerves, five weeks later I was boarding a plane home and crying my heart out because I did not what to leave.

In five weeks I grew as a person, I saw what having a ‘bad’ life is like, I saw people living in townships and being the happiest people I have met. I worked with children who had nothing, I stroked lions, saw elephants and make friends for life. Walking in to Gatwick arrivals lounge and my parents didn’t even recognise me. I don’t think I really recognised myself. I had been home a month before booking the next trip to Camp America – sure enough I had been bitten by the travel bug.

Fast forward to May 2011 and I’ve become bogged down in a life I hate. There are too many people in this small town; influencing me, dragging me down in their problems and knowing all of mine. With one month to go before I left for Camp America I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t come back to this life – of living just to get by.

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There was the familiar feeling of saying goodbye and meeting complete strangers who you would spend the next 2 months of your life with – this time I wasn’t so nervous. I threw myself in to camp life and before I knew it nothing about the outside world mattered, we were living in this ‘camp bubble’ and I really was content with life. I was good at this, I loved being a counsellor. Making friends and falling in love with life for the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged. Camp came and went but the boy who captured my heart stayed with me. We saw America, we fell in love and we made memories for a lifetime. Before I knew it I was driving home from the airport back to familiar faces and a decision of what I was going to do with my life.

When I returned home I was determined not to let my life go back to what it had been. I had let that happen before when I returned this time I wanted to keep my new found happiness. I wanted to stop thinking about everyone else and do something for me and so I did. Moving 400 miles away to follow a boy I had known for three months, crazy – yes, do I regret it? No.

May 2012 and I’m living in London, enjoying the build-up to the Olympics and working as a nanny. Getting to live in the same city as the Olympics is a once in a life time experience and I’m glad I was there for it but am I satisfied with my life in London? No. I have no social life, no work friends I can go out with. It is true what they say; unless you have friends it London it is a very lonely place. I want to get out, I want to get away. I book a round the world ticket for October. This is a big one, the boy and me – Australia, New Zealand and Asia, the plan is so ideal it seems like a dream.

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October comes and I’m standing at the airport saying goodbye again, this time I have someone to hold my hand. I’m achieving something I have dreamed of for years. Landing in Sydney I have to pinch myself to check this is really happening, driving on Fraser Island, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, jumping 14000ft from a plane it all feels incredible. Better than I could ever have imagined and the best part is I did it all myself.

Now it’s May 2013, I haven’t had to get on a plane and go home yet – but life certainly isn’t as rosy tinted as October. It is expensive, it is hard to get anything but a casual job and I’m starting to feel a little lost in a life I wished for. Tonight I walked home along the Southbank of Melbourne after a lovely meal out with a friend from work (who is also here on a working holiday visa). We spent the evening talking about our time in Australia and how not everything is perfect but it could be a lot worse. We have control, it is up to us to make the most of our time in this beautiful country.

I think sometimes my head gets fogged and I can only see the here and the now. I forget to think about how much my life has changed in the last three years. I forget how much I have achieved and how much my relationship has grown. Travelling is important in life and sometimes when the way forward gets fogged it is really hard to not throw it all in and jump on the plane home. That’s why looking back is more important, sometimes you don’t see how great life is until you look back on your old life and realise how far you have come.

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