Ever had one of those moments in your life where you feel like everything is falling down around you? Those times when you suddenly realise that you’re nowhere near where you hoped you would be in life and yet everyone else seems to be giant strides ahead of you. We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt like shit because we don’t think we’re doing as well as everyone else looks like they’re doing on social media. But that’s okay, it’s okay to feel like you’re failing a bit. Why? Because it’s these moments that help us to really view our lives clearly, to make cut-throat decisions about where we want to be, what we want to achieve and who we want beside us. I definitely had a moment like this just before deciding to come travelling - it was one of the hardest times of my life and yet now I look back on it as the deciding moment that changed my life. My career, relationship, home were all gone in a second and yet I’m now happier than I’ve ever been - it took rejecting all I knew to achieve all I never knew I wanted. But trust me, that’s the hardest decision to make. It’s so much easier to carry on as you are and bury your head in the sand.
It’s been almost eighteen months since I left the UK to travel Asia and Australia, and it’s now been over two months since I arrived in Melbourne. For the first time in a while, I actually feel really settled and like I’ve actually got my shit together. It’s an amazing feeling after living such an unsettled existence for the last two or three years. I have a home, a steady job that challenges me, a great group of friends and a plan for the next six months - its an odd feeling but a great one. For a long time all I wanted was a life of excitement and uncertainty, of adventure and of freedom. But now, after over a year on the road it’s really nice to be able to live a different way and to have a whole new adventure - living abroad - and to tick another item off the bucket list. Finally having a routine again and being in that familiar cycle of work/fun/sleep/repeat really gives me the opportunity to reflect on my 18 months away and to think about how far I’ve come, what I’ve experienced and where I’m going in life. I feel like I’ve got my shit together and it’s a great feeling - so now I want to share all the tiny things that help me feel like I’ve got it together. Tiny changes can really make a difference to your whole outlook on life.
- Sleep - erratic sleeping patterns really affect your mindset and your motivation. Getting a good night’s sleep can really help you be productive and feel like you’re on top of things.
- Eat well - healthy food, healthy body, healthy mind. By looking after your body, you feel better and that gives you the energy to take charge of your day. Eating rubbish makes you feel sluggish and lazy.
- Drink lots of water - this is something that affects me more than anything, I get dehydrated really easily and hate the headaches that come with this, drinking lots of water helps you think clearer.
- Build a home - whether it’s a temporary home or something long-term, having your own space makes a huge difference. You can have a home anywhere you can feel comfortable - in a huge house or a busy hostel - it’s what you make it.
- Make goals for your career - whether it’s short-term saving for travelling or long-term career progression as you climb up the ladder. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve or you’ll stay in that job far too long.
- Clean up - just having a tidy, uncluttered space can make a world of difference. I can’t cook in a dirty kitchen, and I can’t stand to live in gross conditions. Just wiping surfaces and cleaning the floor can make my mind clearer.
- Exercise - running helps me clear my head when I’m stressed or indecisive, and the endorphins you get from working out can affect your mood more quickly than anything else.
- Look at your behaviour - if you’ve stopped having fun but feel like you’re always partying then perhaps you’ve slipped into a rut. It’s easy for one night of fun to become a vicious circle when you’re surrounded by certain people. Make a decision whether you want to behave like this or whether you’re just wasting time and money. The same goes for those who are working all the time and are having no fun.
- Make a list - I swear by to-do lists. For the food shopping, for work, for jobs at home, for my bucket-list, for books to read, the list goes on. They keep me focused, simplify things so they seem less intimidating and they help me stay on track. Often I don’t even write them down, I just make them in my head, but there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking everything off.
- Make a plan - if you’re not happy then think about why, what is stopping you from being happy? The remove the obstacles one-by-one, it’s not hard when you break it all down to a few steps and it really can change your life.
- Play your favourite song - every day when you get out of bed, or when you’re on the way to work, listen to your favourite song and feel it changing your mood. Music has an amazing way of affecting the way you feel and it can change your whole attitude.
- Take time out - it’s so important to give yourself time to think, to just be. Whether you meditate, read, listen to music or do yoga, it’s a great way to soothe your mind of stress and worry. It really does help you to put things in perspective.
- Get away - head out of the city or just explore somewhere new, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks, it really helps you to clear your head and think about what you want to do in the future. A bit of space and distance can change your whole outlook.
- Talk about it - often just uttering the words that something is wrong can take a weight off your mind. Talking about it to friends or family can often make you realise that actually you have a lot more going for you than you think.
- Cut yourself off from social media, or see it for what it is - no-one actually has their shit entirely together, the sooner you realise that, the happier you will be.
What tiny things help you feel like you have your life in order? When you’re struggling, what helps you stay on course?
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?
- Finally achieving something that has been my goal from the very beginning of travelling - I’m living abroad and settled in one spot of my choosing, and Melbourne is a city that I really want to build a life in.
- Coming home - arriving in Melbourne to a huge, warm welcome from so many of my closest Darwin friends meant the world after three months alone in the outback. They are the family I have while I’m thousands of miles away from my own.
- I’m technically homeless and jobless right now, but it doesn’t stop me walking around with the biggest smile on my face.
- I’ve finished working in the worst job of my life and smashed it, got my second year visa and haven’t gone insane - I really can cope with anything!
- I’ve just spent three months going to the gym every day and am probably in the best shape I’ve been since before I came travelling - I feel healthy and fit, such a great feeling for a backpacker.
- The other night, I actually chose to stay in instead of hitting the clubs, instead I sat on the balcony and blogged for hours as the sun was setting - getting to indulge my passion and not being afraid to turn down a night out shows I’m confident in what I want to do.
- I no longer feel even that slight tummy pinch of nervousness when I go somewhere new - now I’ve been travelling so long it is just excitement at change.
- Linked to above - I’ve never felt more confident in my abilities to travel solo, make friends wherever I go, and to handle this shit.
- The other day, I made a new friend and was telling him about my travels and my life - through his reactions I got to see myself through someone else’s eyes and realise how awesome my life is. Sometimes we forget to really appreciate what we are doing as a whole.
- Since being in Melbourne I’ve actually started to make more effort to not look so homeless after Darwin and the outback’s more relaxed style - but I’ve really realised how much I prefer myself without make-up after six months of barely wearing it. I love that I’ve reached a point where I feel confident and happy without it.
- Despite six months off make-up, I can still do a perfect winged eyeliner on my first attempt punches the air
- This blog is smashing it right now - shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards, working with amazing brands every week, and a huge response from readers old and new. So great to see it take off in such a big way after all my energies.
- I’ve ticked off so many amazing things from my bucket list in the last 12 months, many of them I didn’t even know were on there! And I finally got to swim with a sea turtle!
- I’ve made a decision that I’m so happy doing what I do, that I’m not stopping after the year-mark. I’m not taking a gap year and heading home like some, I’m turning this into my lifestyle and have travel plans for the next year already!
- I’m also reaching a point where I know in the next six months I will be happy to return home for a short while to reconnect with friends and family - a sign of contentment that I am happy to return to the place that forced me to leave.
- My head, and my heart are filled with amazing memories of sights, sounds, tastes from along the way, the people I’ve met who have changed my world and my beliefs. I feel so grateful to have experienced so much.
- I’ve had quite a few messages lately from readers who have said that my blog, and my life, is inspiring. I’m not sure whether I agree, as I think this is something that anyone could achieve, but to regarded as inspiring is something that in turn inspires me every single day to carry on and to keep writing.
- I’ve realised that I’m nearly 26 years old and I have not a single regret - i’m not sure there are many people in the world who can say that. I feel so happy with every decision that I have made because it has led me to this point and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
- My values have changed - I realised since arriving in Melbourne and being surrounded by shops and every convenience, that I simply don’t need any of this stuff. Far more precious to me than the latest from Topshop are the memories I’m making.
- I’m excited for the future, but I’m not stressing or worried about anything - I literally don’t have a care in the world. I’m just excited to see what comes next and totally accept that whatever happens will happen. For a girl who used to worry about and organise everything, this is a huge change.
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?
I like to live my life with no regrets, and I'm happy to say that up to this point in my life, I genuinely don't regret a single thing. Everything that has happened up to now had led me to this point, and I'm pretty happy with my lot in life. I've got a great job, amazing friends and family, a pretty special boyfriend and big plans for the future. I may have struggled along the way to getting to this point, and I may have had some tough times - but that makes me value what I have more than ever and I can't help but be grateful for that. Throughout my life I have always strived to be the best version of myself as much as possible, whether that means going out of my way to help people or working hard for my degree or job. I have to admit, putting my all into everything does mean I've turned into a bit of a perfectionist and my high standards have meant that I've been left disappointed by others over the years. But I've learnt to accept that I have no control over the actions of others, that I can only focus on my own actions because they are the only thing that is within my control. Trust me, that's not an easy thing for any perfectionist to deal with - I'm sure there are those who know and are nodding at the screen right now.
Regret is a funny word. It can be meaningless to a person, or it can be everything. With phrases like "carpe diem" and "live for the moment" tattooed on peoples' extremities, plastered across inspirational images posted on Instagram and engrained on our brains - it's no surprise that everyone says they live a life of no regrets. A conversation with a friend really got me thinking about this, whether I would do anything differently or whether I am actually really happy with the way things have turned out. I've always been very much of the viewpoint that things, to a extent, happen for a reason. I think if we don't feel a certain drive to act in a certain way, we can't really regret it, we can only learn from it. We can always wonder if things would have turned out differently, even though we know we can't change things. I guess my regrets come more in the form of things I would love to tell my younger self, glimpses into the future I would have liked to have shared and to have known at the time. You've got to admit if you could go back in time and warn about a nasty boyfriend or a bad haircut, you would definitely do it...
So what would I say to my younger self?
Advice to Lucy, age 5-10
My favourite spotty dress
- Really revel in staying up past bedtime reading books under your covers, and building whole cities for your Barbies. Soon will come a time when you don't get to do either any more.
- Persevere in maths - it's hard and it's horrible, but it's better to learn it all now than having to catch up and I promise your hard work will pay off before high school.
- It's not nice to fight with your sister, but soon a time will come when it's considered GBH and she won't find it quite as funny. Make the most of it while you can.
- Don't breathe in when that teacher comes over to read your work over your shoulder. Chugging instant coffee and chewing gum is a combination that will make you gag.
Advice to Lucy, age 10-16
At a film premiere in my acting days
- Friendship groups change more often than your socks, but identify the keepers and hold them close. Stick to the ones who have been there through think and thin, you'll be fine.
- Don't be afraid to work hard, what's not "cool" is living off benefits for the rest of your life and not getting to go to university because you didn't pass your exams.
- Boys are great as friends, unreliable as boyfriends at this age. Flirting is fun, but don't waste your time - you'll have more fun with your girls and someone very special is on the way.
- GCSE's don't actually matter!! All that work and they don't actually amount to anything past a pass in English, maths and science to get into Sixth Form - still make sure you do well but don't stress yourself out.
Advice to Lucy, age 16 to 18
Before the Sixth Form leavers do
- Don't be afraid to speak up sooner. Those friends who have let you down repeatedly, been nasty and contribute nothing - they don't deserve to be in your life.
- Don't listen to the haters and the worriers - they know nothing about your relationship and you're still going strong over seven years later! Dive in heart first and enjoy it.
- Don't be pressured by your parents and others into choosing a university you know isn't right for you - you're making the right decision and you're going to have the time of your life!
- Think about other options for careers and do some more research - think about journalism and media as an option instead of just teaching.
Advice to Lucy, aged 18-21
On my 21st birthday
- Partying hard will never stop you achieving your goals - enjoy, you deserve it after working so hard and no-one should stop you.
- Stop wasting time and accept that no matter how much you want to save friends, you can't. They have to save themselves and all you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.
- Not taking a dissertation module will not affect you, but getting more journalism experience will only benefit you. Get involved with the student newspaper.
- Start a blog. You're going to do really well in a few years, but that will only make you regret not starting earlier when you had more time on your hands.
Advice to Lucy, aged 22-present
Before a night out aged 22
- You're making the right decision to come home and take the job at the paper, but don't expect to finish that journalism qualification - some big changes are coming.
- Save, save, save, save. No matter what you think you're saving for, understand that at some point you will want to escape and you need a fund behind you. No matter how little you earn, you can always save.
- Don't be afraid of a big change - you can live in denial for a year or you can make a snap decision and face up to what you have known all along - travel is the way out.
- Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling is one of the best things you will have done up to this point - enjoy it and really squeeze everything you can out of it.
After a request from a fellow blogger, I'm turning this post into a blogging tag! My first one, and I'm hoping you'll all enjoy writing this post as much as I have. I want to all to share the advice and things you would say to your former self - then nominate five bloggers to do the same. My nominations are:
Charlie Holly Jasmine Aftab Antoinette
What advice would you give to your younger self?
PS. Don't forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards travel and lifestyle categories!! Click here and here to cast your votes xx