Anyone who knows me, has a pretty good understanding that 2016 was not my finest year. From heartbreak, to self doubt, moving continents and everything in between. The past year had broken me, and at points I wasn’t sure if pulling myself out of the black hole that had consumed me, was even a possibility.
2 years is an incredibly long period of time to be away from everyone and everything that you know. There is no denying that being completely taken out of your comfort zone helps you to grow as a person, but there are some nasty side effects that not many people seem to talk about. For example, the tunnel vision that can infect you when you start to see the cracks in your own exterior, your weaknesses and only how long the path seems for you reach your goals, rather than being proud of how far you’ve come. Starting over and starting fresh, is both a blessing and a curse. The amount of places I visited, friendships I forged and things I accomplished within that time, is really incredible. Facts that I often overlook or forget about when I reflect on my time overseas. Isn’t it a shame that all the things that haunt us from a failed relationship or a negative experience, can make us forget all the positive memories too? Part of why I’m even writing this post is to reflect, recount events and ‘come clean’ to myself about the 2 year adventure that got me to this very point.
5-6 months, that is all I had ever intended to be away. August 2014-January 2015. The plan was to explore California & Nevada, study for a few months at California State University East Bay (40 minutes from San Francisco CBD) and then do some more travelling within the US until the very beginning of 2015. However, I only ended up returning to Australia on October 29th, 2016. Sometimes the universe can mess with the plans of even the most detail-oriented (to the point of obsession) traveller. Within a week or two of my plans to jetset off to the US, I started conversing with a Canadian. Pretty quickly I knew that I was a goner, my heart was already his – without ever meeting him in person. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and I’ve been burnt more than once, but I couldn’t help the feelings that were bubbling to the surface. Sounds crazy, right? It was. Instead of spending a week travelling alone before starting study at CSUEB, I booked a flight to Calgary, Canada. I told him from the airport that I would be there in a couple of hours. The only way I could justify this spontaneous decision was that “There is no reward without risk”. Let’s be honest, at the time meeting him felt like winning the lottery.
I was head over heels for someone that I barely knew, but felt like I had known for a life time. Have you ever met someone where the connection is so deep, that you could swear you knew them in a past life? I’m not really sure what I believe, but I knew what I felt from deep within my chest. Day two, I was taken to one of the most beautiful places that I have ever experienced. Banff. And just like that, any thought I’d ever had about moving to Canada was becoming a reality. How could you say no to somewhere this breathtaking?
And in the Winter time? Oh man, I was hooked.We spent a week together, and it felt like something out of a fairytale. He asked me to be his girlfriend, I accepted without a flicker of doubt regardless of the 8,620 miles between our homes. After I said a painful goodbye to Calgary, I headed back to California for three months to experience university on another continent. The memories that I created in those months, were some that I will never forget. But those stories and pictures are for another post. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to go back to Australia, and instead I was going to chase the wild dreams in my head. I wanted to experience life in Canada, with someone that I already felt like I wanted to spend my life with. I’ve always been a dreamer. I wear my heart on my sleeve and while I think that’s an incredibly important part of who I am, it means I don’t always use my head to make my choices. I decided to get my Canadian Working Visa, and suddenly I felt completely liberated.
I remember the day that I called my mum to sheepishly tell her my plans, realising it would mean that I wouldn’t see her or my father for a very long time. She yelled at me, she told me I was being stupid and made it clear she didn’t agree with my decision. But nothing could burst the bubble that I was floating in. Thankfully, she called me the next day, apologised and told me to follow my heart and have an adventure. While my mum and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, I love her with all my heart and know she will always support me with my best interests at heart. I applied for my VISA, and next thing I knew I was applying for jobs, making cute plans and preparing myself for my future to take a much different path than I had ever planned.
To cut a really long story short, I followed my heart to Canada. We moved in together, we were together for a year and we got engaged. It all looked like a perfect relationship according to my Instagram, but many people put up a front when they’re unhappy. I’m no exception.It didn’t work out. In March 2016, I left a relationship that by the end had made me miserable, full of self doubt, without a direction for the future and totally lost. In saying that, I will never blame him for everything that happened. I let myself be in that position, to stay and allow my feelings of self worth to change. We’re not always as strong as we think we are. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just wasn’t who I thought he was. Deep down I still know that he could still be that person, without all the negativity and sorrow clouding his mind. But it’s like he had given up and let the weight of the black cloud crush him. There are so many details that I have agonised over, trying to figure out exactly how I got the point where enough was enough. The one thing I have kept coming back to, is the fact that you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change themselves. There is only so many times that you can make excuses for someone who upsets you, lets you down, is irresponsible with your heart and isn’t willing to work through any of their own issues for the sake of you both. I made the choice to stay as long as I did, to fight for the relationship and reflecting on that as allowed me to understand myself lot more. The easiest thing to do at the end of a failed relationship is be angry and place blame. But that doesn’t change what events unfolded and it doesn’t make you any happier in the long run. It takes strength and courage to leave someone that you love, but that you know is not good for you.
The sad reality is, that sometimes no matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you want it to work…it’s not always meant to be. Not even an engagement ring can fix a relationship, especially when both people have a lot of work to do on themselves. I’m a huge believer in fate, but man, sometimes life really kicks your ass. Then sometimes, it continues to kick you when you’re down. But the wonderful thing about being at rock bottom, is that things can only look up. Regardless of how many things I have learned from this relationship, I will not shy away from love and the idea of being in love again. Even if that gets me hurt more often than not, I wouldn’t change the self confessed “Hopeless Romantic” side of myself for anything. One day, I will meet someone who makes all the heartache worth while. I don’t doubt that for a second.
I get asked all the time if I regret taking the risks I did, uprooting my life and moving to Canada. All I can say is, FUCK NO. While my relationship was a HUGE part of time away, there were so many amazing things that happened. Let me share some with you.
1. I met these three absolutely incredible women. Maya, Tiffani & Anali were the best people I have met in an incredibly long time. There aren’t enough positive words in the dictionary to describe these ladies, but I’ll spend the rest of my life making sure they know how much they mean to me. I miss you guys everyday. While I know there is distance between us, you will always be close to my heart (sappy AF but you love me).
2. Found a new passion
I initially applied at Sephora because I was looking for something fun & a challenge. Little did I know that I would develop an obsession with Skin Care & Beauty, allowing me to build a bank of knowledge on an area that I originally knew almost nothing about (not to mention, seriously UPing my makeup game). I worked with a group of incredibly talented (not always recognised) women. They educated me, made me laugh and helped me grow as a person. You guys kept me sane through some intense highs and lows, and for that I will always be grateful.
3. Travelled to a whole bunch of places (some new, some not).
Alaska, Los Angeles (x4), San Francisco (Lived there for 3 months), Portland, Las Vegas (x4), Arizona, Vancouver, Santa Cruz (x2), Napa Valley, Toronto, Banff (x6), Jasper, New York, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Chicago, Edmonton and Calgary.
There were a million small things, personal jokes and memories that also added to my time away. But those 3 things are enough to help me reflect on the positives of my journey. I took a risk, and while it didn’t work out quite how I had planned, I certainly was rewarded.
I’m sure that is an accurate reflection of how you’re feeling if you’ve managed to get through this entire post of ramblings. It’s almost over, I promise!
2017 for me, as cliche as it might sound, is a time for self reflection & improvement. I need to assess every aspect of my life. I want to grow as a person, find my career path, develop my relationships and enjoy every day. Each day will be a step to a happier, healthier mindset. This blog for me is a way to express myself, share my passions with the world and figure out what on earth this life has in stall for me. I hope that you’ll stick along for the ride while I try to figure that out.