Time is a weird concept isn’t it? Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and according to Doctor Who it’s not a strict progression from cause to effect but more like a non-linear, non-subjective big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey STUFF.
And somehow or other, in amongst all the stuff, as of today I have been away for three months.
That’s a quarter of a year!
HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED?!
Three months ago I was with my family at the airport, saying my farewells and doing my best not to absolutely poo my pants about what the future had in store for me.
And now here I am on a hostel bed in Melbourne, having not abided by any of the vague plans I made myself wondering why on earth I worried so much in the first place!
To be honest I do know why I was so worried – setting out into the great unknown was a Big Deal for me. Moving out, paying your own rent and making your own way in the world is challenging and scary enough without taking into account that I was doing all of that on the other side of the world and had never travelled on my own before!
Funnily enough it was all fine and dandy, because as well as being challenging and scary this whole adventure is exciting, liberating, funny, interesting, informative, unpredictable and just plain crazy really! Looking back now, even though it’s not been that long, it’s weird to read my previous posts and plans and see how I’ve changed in the time I’ve been here. And that isn’t a surprise, travel and new experiences change people we all know that.
I think the biggest thing I have learnt so far, however, is the importance of travelling for yourself.
I embarked upon this trip with a huge group of people who had also booked through BUNAC – we all met at Heathrow for the first time, and for me it was a real comfort to be experiencing this whirlwind of emotions with others.
Once we’d got to Sydney I didn’t realise that we all had more or less the same idea – find a job and settle in Sydney for three to four months. That was undoubtedly my plan, and looking back on my Australia A-Z bucketlist now is weird because things such as Christmas Day on Bondi Beach could only have happened if I’d stuck with that plan. Call me naive, but I did not expect to find myself looking for houseshares with those that I flew out with – I assumed we’d all be going our separate ways almost instantly, meeting up here and there and sharing hilarious stories along the way.
It took me a couple of weeks to realise that I needed to leave Sydney. It wasn’t that I had anything against the place, nor those I was with – quite the contrary in fact as I consider some to be my closest friends out here, and hope I’ve made some lifelong friends. (Assuming they feel the same!) But in those weeks I learnt that there is nothing wrong with craving your own company. Sometimes, for me, it can become a bit claustrophobic being surrounded by the same people the whole time – especially when there is no private room that is specifically yours to escape to.
And so, after a lot of faff (and several essay-length emails to The Parentals!) I eventually came to the conclusion that just because others were sticking to their plans and very happy to spend their first few months together didn’t mean I had to as well. I’m here to do what is best for me, and as it transpires what was best for me was going to a little known place called Coffs Harbour with the intention of picking blueberries for a living!
Travel for myself, not for others. 🙂
It’s funny to think about what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t made that decision to do what was best for me. I wouldn’t have met these crazy cats for one thing…
…Or these fruit loops…
…Nor these lovely ladies either…
I still would have never ridden a horse…
And my phone would not contain the 500+ selfies one is punished with when leaving their phone unattended around backpackers…
The only downside is the homesickness. I’m not a massive home bug but I am really close with my family, and I have a really tight knit circle of friends that are all very hard not to miss. To begin with it was pretty raw – the goodbyes had only just happened and before I’d had any time to process it I was on my way! I’d spend my spare time looking at photos from home and then having a little cry, only to then read the cards my family wrote me and cry some more and then – just to go all out and everything – I’d have a bit of a Facebook stalk just to see what everyone was up to without me!
(Just FYI I’ve stopped doing that now guys, your profiles are safe!)
Now the homesickness feels different. It’s not that I want to go home – quite the contrary – but it’s more like a longing for normality, routine and familiarity. The waves that would hit me unexpectedly before are no more. Instead they’ve been replaced with what can only be described as a constant dull ache somewhere in the ‘family’ gap in my heart, intensified every time something reminds me of home. I’ll be on a bus listening to my iPod and find myself welling up at a song I associate with home. My old work had their Christmas party recently – I saw the photos and found myself unexpectedly emotional at the sight of them all together once more.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! I got excited the other day when talking about a dress I have at home that I can wear with black tights and ankle boots – I really want to wear black tights and ankle boots, but more often than not I’m simply rocking the backpack / frontpack look instead!
I think what these emotions and experiences are trying to tell me is that the time for doing whatever I want is over, temporarily a least. I’m feeling the need for a bit of structure and a proper purpose back in my life, rather than just doing whatever I darn well please whenever I darn well like. Which is something I definitely didn’t see myself saying when I left my old job back in October, but it’s handy as I’m due to start my new job as an au pair on 3rd February and I’m very excited to have somewhere to call home for the next few months, and to be considered as part of the family.
Funnily enough, my job as an au pair brings me back nicely to the point I made earlier about travelling for myself. I’m very happy to have this job lined up, but I found myself almost justifying why I had accepted the role to some friends the other day. They couldn’t understand why I would take such a job when there’s the opportunity to stay here in Melbourne, earn lots of money and have more of a party lifestyle.
If truth be told – that just doesn’t interest me. Not right now, anyway. It’s right for some people, and that’s great! But this whole trip is about me at the end of the day – and not in a selfish way, but in a necessary way.
I can’t quite believe it’s been three whole months since I left. It’s gone so fast, but feels so long ago at the same time. I’ve had the best time so far, met some amazing people and despite the random and slightly unpredictable homesickness I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store for me. 🙂