Chasing dreams and wanting different things

There’s certainly no such thing as a perfect break up. As the name suggests, when something breaks it often hurts. Something shatters and you have to be careful not to cut yourself as you pick up the fragments of broken glass. Perhaps it’s called a break ‘up’ because afterwards, everything is up in the air. You question everything. Your future, your beliefs, what you really want in life. You’re looking at all these pieces that have delicately been interconnected for several years hurtling through the air and all you can do is watch and hope you don’t get too hurt.

Sometimes break ups are defined by betrayal, anger or deceit (I’ve been there). Sometimes it’s moving, taking up that dream job interstate or having to return home once your visa expires (also been there). But what happens if there’s no catalyst for your break up? What if, one day you look at each other and you realise, you just want different things?

This is the situation I found myself in a few months ago. And let me tell you, it was extremely difficult. Rewind a few months before that and I was actually planning on packing up my life and moving to Mongolia to work (it’s a long story – basically I found myself a dream opportunity and it happened to be in Ulaanbaatar). Balancing these two desires – the desire to maintain your relationship and follow your dreams – is challenging enough under normal circumstances. It’s even harder when you admit and accept the path you’re on could take you somewhere like Mongolia (and honestly if not Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada or France). What’s even harder than that, is the moment your partner looks at you and says ‘that’s not what I want.’

When COVID-19 happened and the world went into lockdown, suddenly everything I believed in, was working for, and deeply cared about -travel, adventure, curiosity, connection – felt torn away. My whole life I’d been told that my life was mine to control (ha how naive). That if you worked hard, you could achieve anything (ha how privileged). From a young age, I came to realise that my love of travel was something more than a two-week holiday to the Gold Coast or Bali. It was an identity, a badge that I wore with pride. It was something that I felt defined me, down to my core belief systems.

I’ve been doing this for the majority of my life. From a young age, we moved around Australia (NSW > South Australia > Queensland > NSW), I turned 16 in New Zealand on exchange (my first ever overseas trip over 10 years ago!). I’ve been lucky enough to live around the world, London, France, Canada, Mexico, and I hope there’s many more opportunities like that to come. Mongolia was nearly added to the list.

I always wondered why it was that I was so drawn to travel and living overseas. After all, when your partner doesn’t want the same thing as you, it inherently makes you question why you want those things. Is it just to take photos for Instagram? Is it to spend drunk nights bar hopping around foreign cities? Is it to escape the stress of ‘reality’ in Australia? It wasn’t really until travel was off the table that I reflected on why it was so important to me.

For me, it aligns to deeply with my values of connection, adventure, living a life of purpose, curiosity and constantly learning. Of course, there are always other ways to seek out these things – all of which are equally exciting and valid in their own right. But for me I have never felt more ‘me’ than when I’ve been in a foreign country. When I’ve been fiercely independent, lost in new streets and knew that it was entirely up to me to navigate and shape the life I wanted in this new place.

I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to have the opportunities I’ve had. I’m so lucky and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Once you get a taste for chasing your dreams, it’s hard to let go.

Which brings me to the moment when we looked at each other late one night, the ghost of my near move to Mongolia, the growing inevitability of a move to Sydney to be closer to work, and the realisation that Sydney and Mongolia meant more than just different living situations. She said the words first. I fought it. I blinked back tears. I didn’t want to accept it. But she had so simply and sweetly voiced what we had both obviously been thinking. Our paths were taking us in different directions, and we realised it was more than just wanting to live in different places.

It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. But I tell you, loss fucking sucks. There’s not much worse than coming to terms with the fact that your romantic relationship is coming to an end. But I think something that would be worse is staying in a relationship, not chasing your dreams and end up regretting it – or even worse – resenting the other person. There’s no right or wrong choice, it’s just the choices you have in front of you at any given time.

COVID and the huge shift the world has felt has made me realise what is deeply important to me. My non negotiables. The dreams that are so big they scare me. It was an overdue reminder that life is so fucking short. We’re only on this earth for such a limited amount of time, and I honestly couldn’t bare it if I didn’t at least pursue or explore what is deeply burning within me.

What just might be the hardest part of this breakup is the question of love. Where does it go? Just because you want different things, doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t love the other person. In fact, I think by accepting the fact that you’re on different paths, and actively choosing to navigate this tricky space with respect, shows how much you love them. Is the hardest breakup, not one filled with hate and betrayal, but one filled with love?

In these times, where things feel uncertain, overwhelming and just plain crazy, know what your values are, explore what your dreams are and hold on tight. Sometimes the hardest thing you’ll have to do is put all of your faith in yourself, but honestly, what if you actually get what you dreamed of? Again, it’s better to chase a dream and not reach it, than have no dream at all.

Of course, I am saddened by the end of this beautiful relationship. But I am delighted that the relationship continues as a caring and respectful friendship, and I am so grateful for all of the memories and experiences we shared together. No one knows what’s coming next, heck I don’t even know if 2020 knows what’s coming next, but I truly believe it will be great. I am determined and I’m chasing that dream.

6 Things I’ve Learnt From Seeing A Psychologist

Last year I started seeing a psychologist. And before you think ‘big deal,’ ‘why should I care,’ ‘what,’ – it is a big deal and I’m damn proud of it. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes a generous mental health care plan to make it affordable, it takes vulnerability and it takes a leap of faith. It requires the thinking ‘maybe this could work.’

I started seeing my psychologist about 12 months ago for a whole range of reasons that I won’t go into. But I must admit, I was very skeptical at first. I always thought I was tough enough to get through anything myself or didn’t need help. But I’ve come to realise that everyone needs support every now and then. That life can be tricky and sometimes you need a roadmap and the tools to get you through it. That sometimes you need an outsider to see you clearly, and help you understand more about yourself.

So, a few sessions, a few breakdowns and a few lessons later, here are a few things I’ve learnt from my psychologist.

Understanding my values

I’d say the biggest takeaway from my psych was coming to understand my values. To identify them can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not until you’re grappling with things that you know are not your values. I narrowed mine down to 8.

  1. having a sense of accomplishment
  2. being honest
  3. being courageous
  4. being loyal
  5. feeling good about myself
  6. striving to be a better person
  7. relationships filled with love and affection
  8. living a life filled with purpose

By knowing what your values are, it helps guides your decisions and helps you live in accordance to your values. And to keep you centred.

Self compassion is key

I’ve learnt that I have this habit of putting everyone else’s needs before mine. And whilst I pride myself on being kind and generous, learning to put my own needs first is something I’m trying to learn and implement.

Whenever I was struggling or feeling upset, I would always downplay what I was going through and say it wasn’t a big deal, or that other people had it worse than me. It’s a skill to be able to acknowledge and respect the feelings I’m going through, whilst also acknowledging my privilege. But mental health is not a pain Olympics. There is not a ‘worse than’ winner, there is simply a spectrum which fluctuates immensely.

Learning how to be self compassionate has been a huge learning curve and is something I’m still working on. My takeaway is this – however you feel – greet it, acknowledge it, act on it and simply let it exist. It doesn’t need to be compared or devalued, just simply felt.

Make time for yourself

Sure, I may have only committed a few hours to these appointments across the year, but I feel that this left a bigger mark and highlighted the importance of taking time out to look after yourself. Whether it’s a mental health day (or a wellbeing day – as I like to call it), spending a Friday night in, calling your family just to say hello, buying some pizza, getting your nails done, spending a day reading a book – you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s completely OK to put yourself first.

Balancing being present and looking forward to the future

If anyone knows me, they know that I always have something planned, something in the works to look forward, and that’s usually a holiday or adventure (thanks COVID). Sometimes I get too caught up with planning and organising, that I overlook what I have right now.

But saying that, during COVID I’ve been Miss Present. Taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, because thinking about the future was too daunting. But now it’s July? And whilst I’ve appreciated the slower pace and more meaningful engagement of being present, I’ve failed to look forward and set goals for what I want to achieve. My worst nightmare would literally be waking up and I’m 90 years old thinking, ‘where did my life go?’

So it’s all a balancing act. Being able to accept the now and run with it, but also to make small goals that are aligned to your values, so that when the going gets tough, you’re on a path that you’re happy with.

Being real and vulnerable is hard

Let’s be honest, opening up old wounds is pretty traumatic. The way my psychologist put it was my thoughts and experiences have kind of been shoved into a linen closet. You know when you’re pushing to get that towel in and you shut the door, put your back against it and hope it stays in there? Yea that was my mind.

When you start digging deep and opening up, the doors smash open and the towels, sheets and random tennis balls all flood out, creating a huge mess all over the floor. It hurts, it’s emotional, it’s hard and it feels like you’re getting nowhere. When you start talking about it, you’re slowly folding it up and putting it back in with kindness and care.

Go slow

I somehow got into a bad habit of being busy. Weekends booked out months in advance, running from one thing to the next, feeling pressured to do things, see people and omg it’s exhausting. From working out what my values are and recognising that quality time, self-development and living a fulfilled life does not equate to ‘busy.’

Take the time to go slow, balance the now with the future, say no if you don’t feel like it, get in the ocean, make no plans and go easy on yourself.

***

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to access a psychologist to look after my mental health. It’s something I never thought I would do, it was something I was scared to do, but it’s also one of the bravest things I’ve done. Make sure to look after yourself, especially during these hard times. Reach out to your mates and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is not business as usual

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that ‘the disease that shall not be named’ is posing a much bigger threat to society than initially anticipated. COVID-19 has shown us how connected our world is and has shown that borders, policies or political leaders, cannot stop it.

And while we’ve been stumbling our way through it all, panic buying toilet paper and pasta, we’ve all been acting like business as usual, with a side of panic. The stats and data are there, this thing is dangerous and threatens the vulnerable. THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL.

This means that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. We need to be critical, creative and caring. We need to think outside the box, make sacrifices and ultimately adopt a level of discomfort and uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

So I’m interrupting business as usual with some ideas and tips on how to navigate this difficult time without losing your mind, with realising there’s enough toilet paper for everyone, and holding on to what’s left of our humanity.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats it’s most vulnerable members

Gandhi

There are many people around the world who are doing it tough in this difficult time. Everyone is struggling to adjust and adapt to this new reality, no one was prepared.

Be kind and patient. Assume that everyone is doing their best. Talk to loved ones and reach out, even if they seem fine, remember, this is not business as usual.

It’s OK to turn off news notifications and block alerts from social media. This doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant, it means that you’re trying to preserve yourself. This is a marathon.

Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Invent a new way to give your housemate a hug.

Practice gratitude for the things you do have. Internet, access to information, clear blue skies (for the first time in months), a community, clean water, Netflix.

Remember that your inconveniences and hurdles, could be saving lives. Though I must admit, stressing about toilet paper is extremely inconvenient, I’m reminding myself that the world will not fall apart without it. Yes it sucks that your travel plans are affected, that party, festival, wedding is cancelled, but it will come when the time is right.

It’s normal to be anxious and concerned. Whilst no one knows what the next few months will bring, we all need to realise that we’re in this together. We will figure it out, we will respond, we will learn and we will grow.

We will get through this, but let’s keep our kindness and humanity in tact.

Finding your voice and racing to learn

There’s not many people who can get me panicked that I’ll miss a train at 6:30 in the morning, except for my friends. And on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day, I spent some quality time with some strong women that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.

Zina and I had tickets to the All About Women Festival in Sydney. It was our second year attending so I think this is the start of a new and exciting tradition for us.

Race to learn

We attended a session featuring the deity Flex Mami and iconic Clementine Ford all about ‘finding your voice,’ especially in the digital sphere. Just two seats away was my amazing colleague and I knew we’d have a lot to talk about when we returned to the office.

The conversation ebbed and flowed between why we may or may not need to find a strong online voice for ourselves, where our voices develop from and what drives us to voice our opinions and experiences.

“We always race to speak, but we don’t always race to learn and understand.”

Flex Mami

I thought that the biggest take away for me was that some of us are lucky to have a platform, my blog is one of mine. And that with a platform comes a responsibility.

My colleague asked me yesterday at work what was my purpose in life – I know, just small talk.

After thinking about it for some time, now, in the stage of my life I’m currently in, I replied, ‘to learn all that I can.’

I believe, what Clementine and Flex showed was vulnerability in not knowing things, in making mistakes and growing and evolving their ideas and values.

“No one finds their voice or comes into this world as a perfectly politically correct person.”

Clementine Ford

We’re all on this journey together, and this International Women’s Day, with the theme being Each for Equal, is really resonated that we’re all trying to do our best and understand this crazy world and our position in it.

So, what about my voice?

At 25 I know that I’ve got a voice. I know how to use it. I’ve perhaps used it irrationally before. And I’ve said things that I perhaps regret or shouldn’t have said.

But I’m aware of this. I feel so aware of my views, values and voice and I’m always questioning why I think, react and behave this way. I think what’s next for me is refining my voice. Cutting out all the shit, all the nonsense, all of the stuff that does not spark joy, and use my voice wisely.

I want to race to learn, rather than race to speak. Because I think when we learn and take our time, is when we grow and create magic.


A huge shoutout to the incredible women in my life who have shown me the way, and played a pivotal part in me finding more voice. To my family, friends, colleagues, role models, acquaintances… to the people who listen to me, support me and lift me… thank you.

This world is a better place with you in it.

Seeking discomfort

Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde, but maybe it means that something exciting is coming… I just have to find my way through it all.

I think it started at the turn on the new year. Entering a new year, a new decade, I felt myself starting to yearn for something big. I am very happy in my life right now don’t get me wrong – I guess it was more of a realisation that if I don’t do all of the things I want to do now, then when will I do it?

For example, I have said I’ve wanted to go to Tasmania for the last three years. I keep talking about it, imagining it, researching it, making plans, and guess what… I still haven’t gone to Tasmania. And if I don’t make my wants and needs a priority, maybe I’ll never go.

I feel like 2020 is a big year and that it’s the year for saying yes to something that scares the shit out of you. I feel that I’m in a great spot, a comfortable spot. I’ve created an amazing environment in my workplace, I’m friends with my colleagues, I’m good at what I do and I’ve been getting coffee from the same guy nearly everyday for 6 years, I live in a nice place with amazing people, I know all the good coffee spots around town… but I am afraid.

I am afraid of becoming too comfortable. I never want to take this comfort for granted, but I’m also not ready for my ‘once in a life time’ comfortable life. I’m 25 years old. Yes I could be engaged, saving to buy a house, heck, even popping out a kid or two. And while maybe that’s coming for me one day, I am currently seeking discomfort.

So this year I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Well, in several different rings. In several different locations, and industries, and positions… let’s just say there’s a lot of hats floating around with my name out there.

And maybe it’s asking too much to expect those hats to land perfectly aligned, perfectly timed, and in preference of where I would like to wear those hats… yep – I know I’m dreaming.

I guess in my current quest for discomfort, I’m bloody uncomfortable. I have to make hard decisions to make and need to dig deep to think about what I really want in life. Seeking discomfort doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and completely in love with my life as it currently stands. It just means that I’m ready for the next challenge, and maybe it’s time for me to step up.

Sometimes, all you can do is throw your hat in the ring and bask in the discomfort of not knowing where it will land.


In the spirit of seeking discomfort, this is the first in a new blogging series. I want to write more, be more open and connect with people who might be experiencing similar challenges, experiences in life.

So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on an update.


Recommendations

🎧She’s On The Money
Their latest episode ‘I see it, I like it, I want it, I got (credit card) debt,’ is a brilliant and important conversation about our society’s view of credit cards. It was a bit scary because they said several things that I have explicitly thought myself like ‘I’ll pay it off,’ ‘I only put necessary items on credit,’ etc. but the truth is, personal debt in Australia is crazy. We have one of the highest rates in the world and I have one. I don’t know if it’s me just trying to justify my use, but…. they’re not evil, I think it’s just a wake up call for me to reflect on my spending habits and think about what I buy on credit and how I could navigate my spending in a smarter way.

📺Liar
Whislt this TV series isn’t the most gripping, best acted show I’ve seen, the framing of this show is incredible. It will make you think about your biases, and turn them on their head. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein verdict, I think this is incredibly important. The end of Episode 3 will have your mouth wide open in disbelief.

The subtle art of saying no

Have you ever been asked to do something that you really don’t want to? And you spent hours, if not days, trying to conjure up an excuse as to why you can’t do it? And not just any excuse, but a plausible excuse. Family events, a friend’s birthday, a reunion, a prior commitment at a prior venue that you simply could not skip on. Alternatively, we begrudgingly say yes and complain that we have to participate in this random thing that we’ve been asked to do, so that we don’t offend the person asking us.

We’ve all been there. Making up excuses, searching for excuses, before finally giving. But to be quite frank, I’m pretty sick of doing things that I don’t want to do. What better excuse of not doing something than simply, ‘I don’t want to.’

Image result for i'm busy gif

I think from a young age, we are programmed to please people. Especially as a woman, we’re expected to be obedient, to play along, and do whatever it is to please the people around us. It means sacrificing our time, energy and effort to keep the peace and keep everyone happy. Whilst this isn’t the end of the world, and saying yes can be a great thing, there’s something terrifyingly empowering about saying no.

Image result for no thank you gif

This is not only apparent in our personal lives, but also in our professional ones. As a young professional, I have been brought up in an environment where I feel the need to prove myself. That I couldn’t possibly have earned my position because I’m too young. So I find myself holding incredibly high expectations of myself, pushing myself and putting my hand up for everything to prove how deserving I am of having the opportunity to have this job. This is a pretty self-destructive notion that will quickly lead to burnout and feeling unrecognised for the extra work you’re pushing yourself to do.

I used to think that saying no was saying no to new opportunities, to miss out on growing, to limit yourself and ultimately hold yourself back. And whilst sometimes saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable is freakin awesome and does facilitate growth, saying no doesn’t mean you miss out on that opportunity.

I’ve recently come to understand that time is one of the most precious things we have. And it’s important to protect it at all costs. As our lives get busier and busier, our weekends get booked out months in advance and seeing friends becomes a series of cancellations and rescheduling, the last thing you want to be doing is spending your precious time doing things that you don’t really want to do.

I’ve found myself asking, how the heck do I say no? To a friend, a family member, a colleague, a boss, a partner… so here are some little phrases and sayings.

  • That’s not really my scene
  • Thanks but there’s other things I’d rather be doing
  • That’s not really up my alley
  • I’m going to have a ‘me day’ instead
  • Can you elaborate on why you need me to do it specifically?
  • Can I think about it and get back to you?
  • I can’t commit to this at the moment

At the end of the day, saying no is an empowering thing. Saying no can set new boundaries. It can challenge people and get them to seriously think about what they’re asking you. It is self-care by honouring and respecting your time. And at the end of the day, you’re just one person. You can’t possibly do everything for everyone, and if you can, then maybe it’s time to start putting yourself first. Say yes to saying no!

I’ll be there for you: What friendship looks like to me

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you” and proved it.

While listening to the Shameless podcast, the girls were discussing performative friendship on social media. And it was only last weekend, when it was another friends birthday, I thought to myself ‘do I really need to post another photo?‘ It’s not that I don’t like that friend or that I didn’t have any nice photos together. It was that I felt an overwhelming duty to do so. And as I’m describing this, I’m sure you know the exact social phenomenon I’m referring to. It’s your friends birthday so you post an old picture of the two of you on your stories, or if you really love them, on your feed. Or, going one step further, making a collage of photos and posting on their Facebook timeline. Wow. And whilst I’ve enjoyed doing this for friends over the past few years, I can’t help but think… why? Apart from a few seconds of humour, embarrassment or entertainment, it disappears in 24 hours. Which got me thinking… what does friendship look like to me?

This inspired me to reflect. And I thought about what I value in friendship and what friendship means to me, how it has shaped me and if I’m a good friend at all! Interestingly enough, I feel that my values around friendship (and I guess in life more generally) begins with my star sign (yep, basic bitch right here, but hear me out). I’m a cancer and strongly identify with being a cancer. Emotional, creative, an extroverted-introvert, I wear my heart of my sleeve, I’m an empath, sensitive, sometimes unpredictable, but if we form a connection and relationship, I’ll fight for it to the death. These attitudes transfer to my friendships, I believe I can make friends with nearly anyone, and that no matter what others think, I will always know the true value of our friendship.

High School: BFFL

When you’re at high school, you think your friends are friends for life. They’re your crew and you ain’t ever leaving their side. Until you do, and you grow, and you meet new people, and you make new friends, and you realise that some of your high school friends no longer serve you in the way it used to. The friendships that last, and surprise you in ways you could have never expected, are the ones that will grow and continue to serve you in the best way possible. The others will drift off, usually without you even knowing.

University: Soulmate

Then you get to uni, you make a whole new family of friends and you think these friends are ‘the ones.’ As a friendship group, you go through so much together, and get a real taste of adulthood. You ‘love’ your friends, you can’t imagine your life without them and that your crew that goes out to sing karaoke and heads to the beach for a hungover swim will be like this forever. And just when you think you’ve found your crew for life, you graduate, people continue to grow, they move away, you grow apart and you figure out, again, that friendship is an ever changing force that will continue to challenge and support you.

Professional: Still figuring it out

And then you adjust to full time work. Your friendship circles become a little smaller, and it becomes a little easier to spend a night in, than heading out. And I am completely guilty of this. I need a lot of ‘me’ time and down time to reset. Adjusting to full time work is pretty exhausting, and that’s why I find myself bolting straight to my room after work and throwing myself on the bed to stare at the ceiling for 30 minutes. It’s my little after work routine and I seriously love it.

Nomadic, true friendships

When I think about my best friends, the people I would have at my wedding, fly across the world to be with if they asked for my help, give my left arm to, they’re the people that I don’t see or speak to everyday. And I think it’s because loyalty is something that doesn’t require constant maintenance. It’s like the Great Wall of China, built on a solid foundation and it will stand the test of times. I think these deep feelings of loyalty and friendship began when I was quite young.

Growing up, my family and I moved several times around Australia. Moving schools, saying goodbye to old friends and working up the courage to make some new ones. Back then, I’d write long letters to my old school friends about my gross new school uniform, what the popular girls looked like and how the snacks at the canteen compared (serious stuff). So over time, I became accustomed to my friends not always being physically close, but knowing that at any time, I could send them a letter with a life update and I’d get one in return about the boy they liked or how annoying their little sister was. I knew they were always there for me, as I was for them.

Adulting: Relationships that serve one another

Fast forward to my adult life, I enjoy moving, meeting new people, trying new things and making new memories. I know that not everyone will be around forever and that friendships change. And for me, the most successful friendships I have, are the ones that are a little like that beautiful little cactus on my window sill. It doesn’t take much to keep a strong friendship alive, because it’s tough af. Unlike the needy succulents sitting next to it that often require a lot of love, attention, water (but not too much. Those suckers are temperamental). Sure, those friendships can serve a purpose and help me grow, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to flourish on their own.

I like to think about life in retrospect. So, when I’m 30 what do I hoped to have achieve? And when I’m 60? On my deathbed? The thing that is reoccurring throughout all of these milestones, is that I want to be surrounded by positive, exciting, challenging, genuine and brave people. And for me, I want there to be as many people in this group as possible. People who bring out the absolute best in me, and in return, hopefully I can help them become the best version of themselves. I don’t believe there’s such thing as too many friends. There’s such thing as too many succulents that’s for sure.But the end of the day, I just want a few soulmates, far and wide, who will catch me when I fall and give me boost forward when I’m heading towards the stars. Oh and to share a cocktail or coffee with every so often.

Thankyou to the people who make me ‘me.’ I love you.

How to push your comfort zone in your mid-twenties

By the time you reach your mid-twenties (yes, I’ve just turned 25 and I’ve reached the next life stage of mid-twenties), you’re in a good swing of things. In your early twenties you tried new things, failed, succeeded, you figured it out and now you’re steadily moving through life quietly killing in. Your comfort zone is well and truly formed and you’re living in it. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but I’m not one for stagnating.

Earlier this year, whilst intoxicated at the pub, I somehow got caught up in a conversation where I signed up to play touch football. To many people, this may seem like a pretty normal conversation. But for me, I was immediately riddled with doubt, anxiety and fear. I had never played touch football before, I didn’t know the rules, I didn’t know all the girls on the team, basically I didn’t know what I was doing.

I guess working in a full time job, you get in a bit of a monotonous routine. Plus I’d noticed myself becoming a bit lazy. So in that moment at the pub, I thought this was the perfect way to get fit, make some new friends, but most importantly, try something new.

The whole day before my second game I was riddled with anxiety

About 20 minutes before our first game, I was frantically watching YouTube videos of how to play touch footy, the rules and how it all works. The first game I spent most of my time jogging up and down the wings, seeing how the game worked and observing/participating/scratching my head/panting.

The whole day before my second game I was riddled with anxiety, thinking about the 7:15 kick off and how I was absolutely terrified to go. All of these negative thoughts flooded my head. ‘The other girls think you’re shit. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re too unfit to play. You don’t know the rules. The other team is targeting you because they know you suck. Why are you even trying.’ I somehow made it to half time before I started to freak out. I was on the sideline and was honestly on the verge of tears. Why was I putting myself through this?

As I ran back onto the field, trying to bottle up these feelings, my team mate threw me the ball and I ran. To my absolute surprise, I dodged the other team and ran through several players. I continued running, not quite knowing what had even happened. Before I knew it, I put the ball down on the ground (that’s called a try), I turned around, and my team mates were cheering for me. Holy shit, I just scored a try!

People are just stoked you turned up

Whilst I didn’t score a try for the rest of the season, my anxiety reduced dramatically and by the end, I was actually looking forward to our touch games. And I’m so glad I pushed through the feelings of being uncomfortable and being filled with self-doubt.

Isn’t it funny how I tried something new and I immediately expected to be good at it? Like hello….. people train and learn rules of games for YEARS! It’s your first time ever playing, people are just stoked you turned up! And this is the part I’m trying to work on. The voice in my head doubting my ability and telling me to take a step back. I think back to all of the times I supported my friends trying new things, and how supportive, encouraging and patient I was. Why would I expect my friends to turn around and not reciprocate those thoughts?

At the end of the day, you can’t be good at everything, and you certainly can’t be good at something the first time you try it! I think in our twenties, we’re so used to being good that we’re so afraid to fail, we’re afraid to even try. That’s why I think it’s imperative that we try new things, we fail, we learn how to learn again, and be kind to ourselves.

You may even surprise yourself and score a try!

The things no one tells you about finishing uni

When it’s 1am and you’ve had too many coffees, too many toasties from Panizi and you’re tapping away at your politics essay, graduation feels like a distant dream. Slowly but surely, every presentation, essay, report and participation mark add up and you’ve finally completed your degree. But there’s a few things that no one tells you about that magical moment you’ve been dreaming of. As someone who’s finished two degrees and is still trying to figure it all out, here are the things that no one tells you about finishing uni.

There’s no minions hiding in your laptop ready to celebrate the moment you hit submit on your final assignment

I remember submitting my last every essay. I was sitting in one of the computer labs in building 17. I pressed submit, took a deep breath, then looked around. Where were the balloons, sparklers and celebrations? I thought the day I submitted my Honours thesis, people around me would break into song and dance. Yet you’re sharply reminded that life goes on, people will continue to nap in South Wing, and sadly, it’s just another day (but for your – a really successful day).

Meeting new people becomes a lot more difficult

I never would have thought that those people I did a group assignment with in my first year would turn out to be my best friends, even now. And I never would have thought I’d still be in touch with the French exchange students I met through the French society. Whilst I like to consider myself a social person, it’s pretty difficult to meet new people once you’ve finished uni. In the professional world, there’s no lunch time uni bar sessions, no starting at 11 after a night out at the Illa, no awkward ice breakers with 25 other students in your class. But one thing uni taught me, is that new friends come from very unexpected places, you just have to make the effort.

What do you call yourself now?

After several years of putting ‘student’ on forms and applications under ‘career,’ you’re now a bit stuck. The most unique species of uni graduate are those who know exactly what they’re doing. This usually applied to those who studied teaching, nursing or engineering, they’re going to be a teacher, nurse or engineer. But what do you become when you study Communications and Media? International Studies? Arts? The beauty, and also the curse, is that there’s no one career for you, and no single career you can put on that form. The best thing about becoming a ‘communicationist’ or ‘international studies person’ is that you can be whatever you want to be.

Comparison-itis is not useful at all

When you finish uni and move in to the real world, and you don’t really know what you’re doing, you will find yourself looking around at your peers and freaking out a little. One of them has a grad position at a big corporation, one’s moving to Spain to teach English, one’s doing a Master’s degree, one’s moving to Melbourne and one’s getting married and starting their own business. Yep, there’s a lot of talented people graduating from UOW. And you’re one of them, even if you don’t have a plan or have it quite figured out, it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others and know that you’re on your own path. Chances are, your peers are looking at your achievements and questioning their own as well.

Fake it til you make it

After several years of being a student, adjusting to life without timetables, tutorials, research projects and Friday afternoons at the unibar, it’s pretty normal to be feeling a bit lost. At the end of the day, people everywhere are faking it til they make it. I’m lucky I’m working in a role that I enjoy, with people who are kind, supportive and inspiring. Am I in my dream job? Not yet. Am I changing the world? Not quite. But am I enjoying the ride? Absolutely! It’s scary and overwhelming finishing uni, always second guessing whether you’re ready, capable or if it’s right for you, but as the saying goes, fake it til you make it!

The thing no one tells you about uni, is that uni is truly a special time in people’s lives. If you belong to the UOW alumni group, we’re some of the lucky people in this world, to obtain a tertiary education at one of Australia’s finest institutions, and privileged to pursue further education. So when you get to wear that royal blue cap and gown, know that you’re leaving something amazing, but you’re more than prepared and capable of moving into the big wide world. Because one day, you won’t have to fake it anymore!

Stretch Marks, Cellulite and Pimples Oh My! A Girl’s Journey To Love Her Body

It’s no surprise that the media, celebrities, influencers, magazines and Instagram make it feel like us women are not sexy, fit, beautiful and hot enough. We’re not enough, full stop. Well if you’re new around here, you know that’s not quite my style. I am all for embracing our bodies, loving ourselves and giving the finger to anyone who makes us feel anything less than awesome.

After a recent conversation with some girlfriends about our bodies, I thought I had to get specific. Specifically stretch marks, cellulite and pimples. How they make me feel, how I deal with it and how I embrace them.

Now I’m not going to pretend I’m a medical expert. There are plenty of reliable sources out there to help you with all your medical questions. This is purely my experiences, thoughts and perspectives towards my body, so don’t go trying to tell me I’m wrong.

Firstly, I am a curvy woman. I am well aware of this. I became aware of this when I was about 11 years old. I distinctly remember walking to my year 5 class when I was living in Townsville. I was walking alongside a friend when two of my friends walking behind me started laughing. We stopped to ask what was funny and they said that it was funny that my legs wobbled when I walked.

When I took up ballet classes when I was 13, well, you could only imagine. I didn’t quite fit in with my stick thin classmates. I was told to suck in my stomach, tuck away my butt and focus on strengthening ‘the right’ muscles (aka not muscles that added to my curvy figure).

I’ll never forget being intimate with someone. We were getting down and they made a comment about how thick my legs were. In fact, on several occasions, people have thought that during this time is an appropriate time to comment on my body hair, my tummy, my butt, the size of my breasts and my curves (but not in a sexy way).

Added to this, my skin has been a pretty chaotic rollercoaster. I got my first acne break out when I was 11 years old. Yep 11. Tiny little Adelaide had sweat pimples scattered across her forehead. 13 years later and the breakout, pimples, acne scars haven’t gone away. I still have frequent breakouts and black heads (and yes I’ve tried Proactive and all those other toxic products, and they don’t work). I’m nearly 25 years old and pimples are very much a part of my life.

When it comes to stretch marks, I guess I got pretty lucky. Yes I faintly have them around my thighs, hips and butt. I don’t have them on my boobs (I’m still waiting to grow into my boobs), and I know I got off pretty easy with the stretch marks. I’ve witnessed my friends bodies grow and as a result, get stretch marks. I’ve seen them get embarrassed and feel ashamed, all for the little wriggles that tell the story of their growth.

Cellulite is a new addition to all this. It’s a strange one because us women are told that having cellulite = failure. Cellulite is something we should be afraid of, fear and reject whole heartedly. It’s something that’d decided to say hello to my thighs in recent years and become more prominent. Whilst no one has made any comments like they did when I was 11, from the way society comments on women’s bodies, I already know it’s not ‘acceptable.’

It’s hard to have all of these experiences, fears and judgement and still hold your head high. Whether we like it or not, people are pretty judgemental and make assumptions about your health, diet, skin care routine and fitness. As hard as it is to step back and brush it off, you’ve just gotta do it. Because it’s a million times better than the alternative.

It sucks that that we are made to feel ashamed of their bodies. It can completely eat people up. It can dictate the way we dress, whether we go to the beach or not, if we try a new sport or not, if we feel confident getting intimate with a partner, if we have that next slice of pizza or if we stand a certain way in a photo. There’s definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt down and insecure about my body. Times that I don’t feel pretty enough, sexy enough, thin enough or fit enough. But I refuse to let those insecurities dictate my life, my happiness and my worth.

We am so much more than our bodies. My body is a vessel that I choose to fuel and nourish. Sometimes with veggies and salad, and others with pizza and pies. I love going rock climbing, doing yoga or going for a walk, and I also love sleeping in all day and watching YouTube. I like to wear crop tops and mini-skirts, and I like to wear baggy shirts and be a complete dag. Whatever I’m doing or wearing, I just like to happy being me!

At the end of the day, life is so much bigger than a pimple on our chin, some stretch marks on our hips and parts of my body that wobble. Let’s focus on what’s really important, the smiles on our faces, the bounce in our steps, the energy we bring to the room and the way we make people feel. The important stuff. The stuff that reflects our kindness, compassion and excitement for life. I’d rather go my whole life with a giant pimple on my forehead and live my best life, than have clear skin and still be uncomfortable in in nit. Life is too short and too damn great. Wobbles and all!

If you’re interested, I made a little video a few years ago about my experiences living with acne (it’s super cringey because I made it in 2016 but hey check it out!).