Some of you may know what a perfectionist and control freak I can be. Everything needs to be organized, all the time. There’s no room for chaos. Quite funny, considering I’ve packed up my life and traveled from New Zealand to The Netherlands, to Madagascar, to South Africa in a few months time and have probably experienced more than many people do in a lifetime.
I’m also very slow (read perfectionist)….yes I’m still editing my photos from a month ago and really wanted to upload those before I was going to write about anything else, because that would just mess up the order. But this last month I spent the majority of my time by myself as Lance is currently in the bush finishing off his course and so I’ve had a lot of time to think about life, me, myself and I.
It’s such a cliche, but life really is too short to live by the rules and so I decided, screw it, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and write this post. I really want to share some of my thoughts, so here goes…
Growing up we realize that life is all about expectations, following this so-called “Handbook of Life”. We need to live by the rules, be good, get a good career, have friends, look a certain way and fit into a box. It’s ingrained in our brains. It’s like we live on auto-pilot, not slowing down and thinking “what the hell are we doing?!” While I’m writing this I see a packet of gum next to me on my night stand. I look at the clock. 7PM, almost time for dinner. I better not have a piece. But then I think to myself, why shouldn’t I have some? What’s it going to do to me? Kill me? Life is like this all the time. We’re all just living our lives the way we are “supposed” to live it. But isn’t it just ridiculous? Why are we so focused on what others think and don’t just follow are hearts and do what we want to do? As long as it won’t hurt anyone, go for it! You’re worth it!
When I was 13 I stated becoming depressed. I felt different. I couldn’t relate to any of my friends. They liked to go out, were interested in boys and would link their arms while skipping through the school halls laughing. I hung out with them and they were great friends, but I never truly felt like I belonged. I hated it. I felt like I was this strange creature who no one would ever understand. I cried at night and pretended everything was fine during the day at school. The thought that there were so many other people my age going through the same things never occurred to me, so I kept quiet and bottled up my feelings. At age 15 I moved to New Zealand. The idea of starting all over sounded like a dream come true. However I soon realized that no matter where you live, you always take yourself with you, so my depression got worse. I spent my lunchtimes in the toilet, scared anyone would know I was in there. I tried making friends, but I was so unhappy, so self conscious that it was impossible for others to love me if I didn’t love myself first. I dropped out of high school, but remained unhappy. Thoughts of suicide were there every day of the week. I hated myself and my life.
At the start of 2010 I knew something had to drastically change. Saying that I was scared is an understatement. After an open day at University, which I attended with my mum and sister I sat in the car, in the McDonald’s car park paralyzed with fear, crying my eyes out, because I was so scared of facing my fear of being around other people and starting this new chapter on my own. I got very close to giving up that day, but a little voice told me that it was going to be alright.
On the 1st of March, 2010 I started my Bachelors Degree in Applied Visual Imaging. On my first day I met some really cool people and even got hit on by a guy for the first time in my life! Surely this was all a dream. Life wasn’t fun? Right?! My first week at Uni I fell back into this old pattern of locking myself in my room, because it was safe and later heard that people thought I was a snob for not interacting with them. If only they knew…
Soon enough I made friends. Real friends. I felt like I finally belonged somewhere. I started to enjoy life. It really wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was pretty cool! My whole way of thinking changed and when I started being happy with who I was I realized that others started to like me too. This was crazy! Within the next few years, my life did a 180 and I became confident, happy with myself and started believing in my true potential. I started to visualize my dreams and they came true. If anyone would have told me that this was going to be my life I would have laughed at their face and told them they were crazy.
Today when I think back of those unhappy years I wish I had spent my lunchtimes outside in the sun with a good book, instead of hiding in the toilets. I wish I had spoken about my feelings with people my age. I wish I had had the courage to face my fears, but I am happy to know that my story has brought me to where I am today. I am happy that the struggles my family and I went through in New Zealand have shaped me to be a person I am today. I am proud of her, I love her and wouldn’t want to change her one bit.
Ten years ago, at the age of 13, I became depressed. Today I can say that I have grown immensely and that I am happy. Of course I still have my bad days, everyone has, but I feel a sense of peace. I’m not “there” yet, but I know I’m on my way and I’m on the right path. I see the good in people and the beauty in everyday things. I am grateful. I break the rules of “life” and tell myself everyday to step outside that box and live the life I want to live, be happy and stay true to myself.
Everyone has their own story. Don’t judge them before you know them. Let’s instead focus on our dreams, our goals, our passions and accept others for who they are. Be unique and let’s grab that piece of gum, break the rules, live your life and be YOU!
This is your life!
Thank you so much for reading my story. Mine isn’t by far the worst, but that’s not the point. If you’re unhappy, change. What’s the worst that could happen? I challenge you to make a list of your fears and face at least one, no matter how big or small, every day. I just did by sharing this with you. Believe in yourself, focus on the positive and be grateful for the little things in life. It really is the secret to becoming the person you want to be. I believe in you!