After writing last Friday’s post, I really got to thinking about my life now compared to a year ago and how happy I am. To put things in perspective, this time last year I was living it up in Thailand with a bunch of great mates and partying my arse off. Now, I’m writing this from my new home of Melbourne while my roommate snores his head off, and yet, I think over the last two weeks I’ve reached new levels of happiness I didn’t think were possible. So I decided to start a list, of all the moments I’ve had recently that have made me feel grateful to be alive and happy I made the decisions that have led me to this point. Because, if you read my last post - you’ll know that this Valentine’s Day I’m taking the time to celebrate being single, independent and the happiest with myself I’ve ever been. Forget giving out roses and chocolates, I’m taking the time to think about and be thankful for all the things that are giving me the rosy glow of happiness.
So what has made me realise i’m in love with my life?
So there we go, the 20 things that have helped me realise why I’m so in love with my life and if you ask me, that’s by far the most important love you will have. Whether you were in a relationship or not this Valentine’s, take a moment to think about whether you are happy with yourself and your life - its something that is so easily brushed over in the busy day-to-day. Why not take 15 minutes out of your day to make a list like this one about all the positive reasons you are in love with you life, and why you are happy with your lot. You might find that actually you have a lot more love for the way things have turned out than you think - or it might just highlight a change you know you need to make! Either way - take the time to love yourself, your life and everything in it.
Tell me what you love mot about your life - what are you most thankful for?
Christmas and New Year are definitely some of those times when people really start to think about their relationship status - a bit like the post-Christmas bloat, it's something that hangs over every festive party and moment under the mistletoe. It can suck a bit to be single at Christmas, to not have someone special to keep you warm and to get you that extra special present. But it can also be great to be single at Christmas - you don't have to feel guilty when you sit there and eat an entire cheeseboard in one sitting then spend the night farting in bed, and no awkward decision about whose family you'll spend the day with. When it comes to New Year, this was my first as a single girl for nine years - which seems crazy to me. Basically as long as I've been old enough to go out drinking I've been in a relationship, more than a third of my life. And it was a good relationship, a great one in fact, but 2015 was all about the start of something new, about taking control of my life and doing something for me. I broke off my relationship and left to travel the world solo, a year later I should be heading home but have decided I'm not ready for my adventures to finish yet. Last December 31st I was surrounded by good friends and spent the night celebrating with my other half. But this year, it felt right to celebrate independently after the year I've had. I've conquered all sorts and I've done it all by myself, so I was more than happy to be a single girl as I took my first steps into 2016.
This time of year it's easy to get caught up in the romance of the season - all those engagement rings popping up on my newsfeed, all those cute couple photos in matching Christmas jumpers, and all those New Year kissing photos. We're blasted in the face with the expectation and the pressure to be in a happy relationship or left to feel like failures, but I have to ask, isn't it more important at this time of year to be looking inwardly and thinking more about the relationship we have with ourselves? New Year is always a great time to look back over the year as it comes to a close - at what we've achieved and suffered, learnt and lost over the last 12 months. We're all planning and making goals for the year ahead, but so many are setting goals, more like ideals for where they see themselves in 12 months. They're thinking about things like relationships statuses, job goals, having their own homes. All of these are great in their own way, but why not take the time to think about how mentally healthy and happy you are. Two Christmases ago I took a two week break from work and from life - I finally had headspace to think and after the two weeks was up I realised I didn't want to go back to that life. That was when I realised that how I was working and living was not making me healthy or happy - it was time to plan an escape and my next moves. That was when I began saving, when I bought a plane ticket. A year later, I hopped on that plane and never looked back.
It's not the answer for everyone and I'm not saying this to tell you to go do the same. Travel might not be your way of healing but starting 2016 on your own could provide you with a good opportunity to really look closely at your life. Are you happy? Are you on your way to achieving what you want out of life? If not, why not? This is your chance to claim 2016 as your year to work on you - do what I did, step back and reassess. Our goals change as we grow as people and sometimes the ones you set a while ago will no longer fit the person you have become - if you no longer want something why work towards it? Evolve your goals and you will find happiness in working towards what you truly want. If a job no longer makes you happy, look elsewhere and find one that does. Feel like work is taking over your life? Take a step back and explore your passions in your free time. Unsure whether a relationship is still giving you what you need - make a change, end it or go in search of something new. It doesn't matter how trapped you feel, even if it feels like there is no way out, there always is. But you have to be willing to make the first move - once you've taken that first step it turns into the easiest and most natural thing in the world, but first you have to take a leap of faith.
It can be a huge change that all your family and friends talk about, or it can be something tiny that just makes a world of difference to you. Either way, having the courage to examine your life and really think about where you want it to go can be simultaneously the scariest and most valuable thing you do this January. Why? Because it will help give you focus and goals for the year ahead - to find the happiness you've been searching for. 2015 was my happiest and freest year yet - it was so amazing that I skipped my flight home and chose to stay and carry on for as long as possible. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings - I'm just hoping for more happiness, the love of many new friends I have yet to meet and even more opportunities to follow my passions. Most importantly, I'm not sitting around and waiting for life to happen to me, I'm out there making it happen for myself.
Have you made any New Years resolutions? What are your goals for this year? Is travel in your plans for 2016 - where are you heading?
Wow, I can't believe 2015 is finally at an end. It's been a hell of a year and I still can't quite believe I didn't dream some of it. It's safe to say, this has been the best year of my life yet and I am happier than I've ever been before - if you knew how I was feeling at the end of last year you'd realise what an incredible change a year has had on my life. I ended 2014 with my life totally up in the air, I'd just quit a good, steady job, I'd put all my money into a plane ticket to the other side of the world, and I'd just broken off a nine year relationship. Pretty dramatic eh? So although I was beyond excited about my plans for travelling across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, I was also questioning whether I had made the right decision, whether I could really do this. Whether I could do this all by myself. I had a bit of a wobble in the airport over a glass of wine when I read all the amazing messages of support from friends and family, but then I realised it didn't even matter if it all went tits up - I had the best people at home to pick up the pieces. Knowing that gave me all the strength I needed to realise it would all be fine and I was going to have an incredible adventure. So that was exactly what I did. In just five days it will be a year since I boarded that plane and set out on the trip of a lifetime, which should have been ending in just a few days but instead is still going strong with no real end in sight.
In the last 12 months I've been through so much - I've met the most incredible people and seen the most beautiful things, I've stayed up all night to watch the sunrise in the most amazing places, I've faced my own mortality and I've realised so much about myself and what I want out of life. It sounds cheesy, but getting away from life as I knew it has really taught me a lot about the way I want to live my life and it definitely doesn't fit into any boxes society has carved out for me. The last 12 months has been about breaking all the rules, setting new ones and living the dream. Looking back, all the pain leading up to my decision to travel was more than worth it now because it led me to this part of my life and I wouldn't trade this for the world. I've never felt freer and being trapped at home while I raised the cash to come and do this was totally worth it because I have appreciated every second since then all the more. I feel so incredibly proud of myself for doing this all alone - it's the first time I've done anything truly independent of friends, family and a boyfriend so that is a huge achievement and it has been the biggest boost to my confidence. I know now that if I can survive a year of travelling solo and not only smash it, but have the most incredible time, then I can do anything!
I've done so many amazing things in the last year; from racing round Bangkok in tuk tuks to trekking through jungle to waterfalls, I've volunteered with elephants and gone hill tribe trekking in Northern Thailand, I've partied insanely hard down on the Thai islands and eaten copious amounts of curry and pad Thai. I've swam through caves and kayaked out on a lake in the centre of a 180 million year old rainforest at sunrise, I've hiked up to a temple to watch the sun rise over Phuket, I've bartered at markets and lived my days in tie-dye, I've clung to my friend as we raced around on motorbikes and persuaded friends not to ride elephants. I've spent two days on a slow boat to Laos singing annoying songs, I've swam through waterfalls pretending to be a mermaid, I've gone bowling in weird places in Laos and been tubing with a load of nut cases as we drank our way down the river bars and created chaos. I've fallen in love with Vietnam from the history to the food, I've been on cycling tours, visited waterfalls, worked out on the beach, explored markets, had clothes made for me, abseiled down waterfalls and jumped off cliffs.I've seen the beauty in rural Cambodia and the genuine kindness of the locals, I've been healed by yoga, meditation and the beautiful people around me, I've been pampered and massaged by experts, I've learnt all about a history I never knew happened and I've watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat. I've celebrated my 25th birthday surrounded by friends old and new in a brand new country, I've realised what Australia has to offer, I've seen cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin and I've travelled for two months with another person. I've seen what the East Coast has to offer; I've 4WD around Fraser Island, I've swam with sea turtles on Whitsundays and been white water rafting, I've kayaked with dolphins, surfed in Byron Bay and been whale spotting, I've cuddled a koala and fed a kangaroo. I've found the best travelling family a girl could ever ask for and spent three months partying and raving my heart out with the best friends you could find. I've experienced the outback in Darwin and seen the Northern Territory. I've travelled solo across the country to live in the bush and work alone for three months.
Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all be amazing - there have been rough bits too. But as one of my best friends always says, "you take the rough with the smooth". There have been times I've been scared and felt horribly alone, when it's all gone wrong and I didn't know what to do. I've been robbed by taxi drivers and had to punch my way out of an argument, I've had to look after more than one friend after they were attacked in the most unlikely places, I've had to look after another friend when all of her money was stolen out of her bank account by someone we thought we could trust, and I've faced my own mortality three times. It's not all smiles and sunlight when you travel and in particular those three serious crashes left me pretty shaken up. Until that point I think I always thought in the back of my mind that everything would be okay and that I was invincible but suddenly I realised that it could all come to an end quicker than you can say bye. But all of these experiences have taught me quite how important it is to live every second like it's your last. I always have done anyway, but now it seems even more important than ever. I've realised that even when you're thousands of miles away from your friends and family that there are people, good friends you meet along the way, who will come drop everything and come running to save you. And most importantly, I've learnt how to save myself and not rely on anyone else to do it for me.
2015 has been a year of growth, a year of triumph and success. I've never been prouder of myself for all I've achieved, and I've never been more excited about what the future holds. I've already changed my plans countless times and instead of heading home in a few days like I was supposed to, I'm staying in Australia to keep living the dream. I've already made travel plans for the following 18 months and I can't wait to start living them. Instead of being the end of an incredible year and the beginning of reality kicking in, I've made this my reality and it feels like just the beginning of another incredible adventure. It might be egocentric but I don't really care, this last year has shown me how amazing, strong and brave I am and it seems only right that someone who possesses these qualities would want to take on the world - so I shall. Thank you all for being with me every step of the way and I hope you'll be sticking around for the long haul as we've got a long way left to go!
Yesterday marked a year since the day I officially quit my job to travel the world. It was without a doubt the most freeing moment I have experienced yet, and the point at which my entire life changed. Yes I had already made the decision to leave and yes I had already been saving for several months - but this was the moment it all became real, when there really was no going back. Telling my boss I was leaving was the point at which I took back control of my life and that was something I had been needing to do for a while. I remember walking out of that office and not quite believing the conversation I had just had, I remember being overwhelmed by the support and kind words from my boss, I remember feeling like I was about to explode with happiness. That was how I knew instantly that I had made the right decision. I still worked in that office for around two months, but the knowledge that I was about to embark upon the biggest adventure of my life did wonders to remove the stress and worry the job had held previously for me. Suddenly realising it didn't matter anymore allowed me to put my heart and soul into the job I loved while ignoring the, sometimes unfair, demands the job placed on me and others.
Now I have been travelling for nearly ten months and after so long spent constantly switching between places and on the move, I have actually settled and found a home in Darwin, Australia. The two months I have spent here have been the longest I have had anywhere since leaving on January 6. I've found amazing friendship, family and even some romance over here, I've worked my arse off to save and partied hard, and it's been two of the best months I've had since travelling. I'm planning to leave soon, but Darwin will always remain in my heart, as will every other place I've visited, from Thailand and Vietnam to Byron Bay and Fraser Island. There's been something special and magical about every place and every moment I have visited along the way - I can't imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn't made this choice - actually, I can, it would be exactly the same except I would be even more unhappy. The best advice I can offer? If you have even a teeny tiny part of you that wants to explore the world - just do it! Forget all these fears about finding work or losing your job, or money, or love or anything like that. Do something for you and you'll never regret it. Travelling was the best decision I ever made and even if I eventually return home in debt and alone, it won't matter because my heart will be full of the memories I've made and the people I've met - that's priceless.In the last ten months I've had the chance to experience so many amazing things - from travelling by myself to with huge groups, abseiling down cliffs to jumping down waterfalls, from tasting amazing delicacies to eating cockroaches in the street, from the best massages to the least comfortable beds, from dancing my heart out on the beach to being invited to party with the locals, from watching the sunrise to watching the sunsets, from being adopted by the locals and talking about art with famous painters, from hiking through rainforests to swimming with sea turtles and dolphins, and so much more I can't even think of right now. The other week I suddenly realised that even on my very worst days here, I walk around with love in my heart and a smile on my face - even when everything goes wrong, I'm still grateful for every second of every day. I don't know if it's all that vitamin D or if it's just feeling safe in the knowledge that I made the right decision and that it wasn't such a big risk after all. If perhaps it's partly the knowledge that anyone who thought I was crazy to do it was in fact the crazy one for not realising I could do it.
Being out here has given me the opportunity to focus on things I love - like this blog for one thing, and it's made me so proud to see how many have responded to it, and how well it has done. Absolutely Lucy started off as a hobby, a side project, and has grown into a huge passion of mine, I pour my soul into it and it's amazing when you start to see that rewarded. Travelling has given me a chance to tell my story and to tell the stories of others - the journalist in me loves that - and to work on capturing moments in photography. It fills me with pride when people comment on how beautiful my photos are or how well I write because for the first time in a long time, I've had the opportunity to work on things I love just for me, not for an employer. Growing up is all about self-development and exploring the person you want to be, I can't think of a better way to do that than by educating yourself in whichever way you see fit - whether a degree or college course, teaching yourself to build a business or even reading everything you can find. But then following that with travel - a chance to learn how the world really works and what people are really like - education makes you cocky and knowledgeable but travel makes you wise and forgiving. The combination of these, plus having time to find out who you are and what you love, is a great way of creating a strong and amazing character.
If there is anyone out there who is reading this and unsure whether to travel or can't quite bring themselves to say the words "I quit" - just think about this. We are on this planet for between 80-100 years and while 18 of them might be tied up in education and childhood, the rest are our own to do with them what we please. Who really wants to get to the end of their life and say they stayed in a 9-5 until they retired? Going off and embracing adventure will not hold you back in your career, it will not hold you back in life, if anything it will push you further than you ever dreamed, it will give you ideas and inspiration you never had before. So many who didn't know what they wanted to do have found purpose and a future through travelling, so many who were stuck in a rut - like myself - have found new drive and motivation, a new focus. Stop using excuses like money, bills and safety - if you want to make it happen, you will make it happen regardless of all of these. And you won't regret it.
Have you reached any travelling milestones? How did they make you feel? How long have you been travelling for, and did you struggle to make the leap to quit your job?
Sometimes horrible things happen and we just don't know why. It's a common part of everyday life and one we deal with on a daily basis - whether it's someone we love getting sick or injured, someone getting screwed over by a job or partner or some kind of loss. But when backpacking, it's a lot stranger to have these sharp pinpricks of reality piercing through the travel bubble you find yourself in. When you're constantly on the move and everyone around you is living every day like it's their last, everyone is happy and content. There is no need to screw each other over, instead we work to build each other up and help each other to be the best we can be. Perhaps it's all that vitamin D, but we all manage to avoid drama and pain for the most part, and even when it finds some way of filtering into our lives it is that much easier to shake it off.
When I first came travelling, I was dealing with some dramas in my own life which had actually pushed me to leave and travel in the first place. It turned out that living among such amazing people and experiencing such incredible things was exactly what I needed. It gave me perspective and a fresh look at the situation so I could plan for my future. Travelling made it that much easier to deal with the situation and to brush it off, which had been nigh on impossible while still at home. Being away changed my attitude and made me realise how little it all mattered when it came to the story of my life, and how I just needed to live each moment like it was my last instead of worrying and stressing.
Anyone who's been reading Absolutely Lucy for a while will know I didn't have the best time in Cambodia and was pretty disappointed by the country. But what they might not know is that I still met some pretty awesome people while I was there, in particular two lads who were the very best of friends travelling together. The pair were quite frankly some of the funniest people I have met and they kept me laughing all night as we celebrated one of their birthdays. We all met, along with several of their friends, after all being invited on a nighttime fishing trip which ended up being hilarious. One of the boys had insisted on going on the trip for his mate's birthday, forgetting that he couldn't stand the smell of fish - to the point he spent most of the trip throwing up over the side of the boat. Despite this, he still managed to keep us laughing the whole time and did it all for his friend. These two lads had known each other for a hell of a long time and were a fantastic double act, I couldn't imagine one without the other.
But sadly now, I have no choice. A cruel twist of fate saw one of the lads killed recently in a car accident leaving behind a devastated family and his heartbroken best friend. After hearing the news via Facebook, I just couldn't believe what had happened. He was so young and had so much left to do in his life, he had barely been back from his backpacking trip a few months or weeks. I may have only known him for one night, but he made a huge impression on me - as everyone I meet when travelling does. Each person and each moment steals a little piece of your heart and leaves you with a little piece of theirs, whether you spend just a few hours with them or weeks on end. It just shows you how precious life is and how making every second the best it can be in case it is your last is so important. Nick did just that and lived every second like it was the last thing he would do and had just had the most amazing time travelling with his partner-in-crime, Will, and I'm so happy they have at least those precious memories.The point of this post is not to rave on about how amazing travelling is, it's just to say that life can change in a split second and it could all be over quicker than you can say 'hey'. But we can't live in fear of what could happen all the time, we need to just make the most of every opportunity and happiness in our lives so that if something does happen - we can be sure we lived every moment to the absolute fullest. So many sit around waiting for life to happen to them, but that's not the answer - go out and make stuff happen for yourself! If travel is the thing for you, book a ticket. If it's love, dive in head and heart first. You get the idea, now go do it - you won't regret it.
As you read this, my travels will have already started and I thought it was important to write this post and share what has probably been the hardest part of my decision to leave. The first thing everyone has asked me upon finding out I was going travelling was "are you going with your boyfriend?". When I replied no on each occasion, I saw the same surprised blank faces in front of me - particularly when I announced I was going it alone. I'm not sure why it is such a shock to people as I've always been quite an independent person - but clearly it seems quite odd to a lot of people that we would be able to go without each other for any length of time. To paint a picture for those who don't know us, me and Wolfy have been together for well over eight years. We've survived all sorts, including me moving away for university for three years, and defied all those who said we'd never last or that we weren't suited - amazingly there were a lot of people who felt that way. But we made it this far and we seem to be doing better than okay. So I can totally understand why people think "they love each other, therefore they must not be able to live without each other".
Relationships always face difficulties at some point - a hurdle that pops up out of nowhere, whether a problem between the two of you, or interference from outside sources. But when you've been together as long as we have, and from as young an age, sometimes the problems that crop up are actually just dreams that pull you in opposite directions. We've all got dreams, big ideas and hopes for the things we want to achieve, see and do - but what happens when they clash with those of the one we love? Well we're faced with a big decision about what to do. This is actually something that's been playing on my mind a lot lately because I have a few friends who, although in slightly different situations, have struggled with similarly big decisions. I guess it is a common theme in our twenties that we will be faced with big choices over our relationships - our teens are the easy time, although they may not feel like it, when nothing really tests us other than ourselves. Even the separation of university is something that can be easy to live with because to an extent we still have a choice over distance and whether we want to go the distance. But by the time we hit our twenties, we are looking at careers, new homes, marriage and babies in some cases, and travel. There are so many more factors that will affects our relationships and we will be forced into difficult decisions.I'm not the only one who has found this, I actually know several people who have found lately that they have had to choose one aspect of their life over another. One friend has chosen to move two-and-a-half hours away from all of her friends and family, leaving behind a job she had worked her way up to, in order to follow her boyfriend. He was moving to a much better job and she had to take a pay cut in order to be with him, but for her the decision was the right one for her because she loves him and wants to be with him. Now they are able to live together, instead of breaking up or living hours apart. A couple I know came to an end after the subject of travel was broached, they had been together for years but he didn't want to travel and she passionately did - so they finished and she started planning her trip. I know of another couple who broke up because the guy wanted to settle down together, with big plans for marriage and babies, but she wanted to keep her freedom and to work on her career first, so they broke up and moved on. What do all of these couples have in common? They're all in their twenties and their lives are ever changing and evolving - sometimes couples are on different wavelengths and that can mean different directions.
For me and Wolfy, I know that we are on the same wavelength but that after eight-and-a-half years we are being pulled in different directions. For me, I'm in a job that I just can't do any longer and I've reached a point in my life where I want to experience something new. It was a choice between moving away for work or travelling, and that decision was a simple one for me. For Wolfy, he regrets not putting in the time and effort for his studies and has realised he needs a change of career, so for him, the move is to retake his A-levels and go to university. The timing for us isn't great and we don't want to be apart, but we also both realise that we have to follow our individual dreams in order to be happy together. Neither of us should have to put our individual dreams on hold at this age, surely we will only end up resenting each other if we try? I'm not saying it's going to be easy - because I know it won't be. Saying goodbye earlier this week was the hardest thing I have ever done. But for us, this isn't a break up, more like hitting pause on things until we can resume play. We hope that it will be just six months until we are reunited in Australia - that might be naive on our part, or it might be a mature decision that works out really well. Either way, all we can do is hope that things work out for us. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason - I'm not always sure what that reason is but I know that it will all work out in the end. And I'm treating this just like that - it doesn't mean being separated is any easier, but it does mean we can hope that if we are meant to be together that it will work out.
I'd love to hear your stories of when you've been forced to choose between love and your career, or family, or even travel, like I have. Did it work out for you? Or do you still regret the one that got away?
Just a quick post today to share with you guys how I spent my New Year's Eve - as you can imagine I'm completely up to my eyeballs in packing, organising paperwork and trying to find everything I need for the next year - yikes! So this post is just a little one to mark another Happy New Year spent with the boys - my last one for a while. We've been having a New Year's party together for years now so it will be strange to spend the next one away from them all. But we made sure this was a good one - me and Wolf whipped up some Mexican food and supplied the tequila - the boys brought the fun. We had a great night, all rounded off with some very bad dancing. Hope everyone else's New Year celebrations were as much fun.Of course there was talk of what our New Year's resolutions might be, but we all agreed there is very little point in making a resolution when we're all happy the way we are. Also - I certainly don't want to come back from travelling to find out they have all changed! All this New Year New Me rubbish... I think we're all getting a bit old for that - if we really wanted to make a change, we would just do it and there would be no reason to wait for the New Year. I made my change months ago and next week it will finally begin! Bring it on! I hope that however you spent your New Year, that it was full of family and friends, and plans for the future. Whatever 2015 has in store for you, make it a big year!
How did you celebrate New Year? What have you got planned for 2015?