Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Something worth celebrating

 1 year living abroad. I have officially had 2 Easters, 2 summers, 2 springs and a looong winter since arriving here on April 8 last year. As I write beginning my second year in London living I look back on all that has been to share with you my realities and wildest adventures since it all began.

Landing on 'motherland' soil with a job in hand was a first for me last year. In 2012 I arrived in London and hit the contractors' circuit taking work day by day, loving my 3 day weekend. 2015's job start was refreshingly secure. I got to know colleagues, was invited to my first staff yoga session and could legitimately have work drinks with friends without feeling like a fraud. I enjoyed theatre productions, European getaways to Croatia and the Greek Islands and a fair few of the finer things in life.

I was lucky enough to make some superb friends in my first 3 weeks in London when I joined the social networking group ThinkingBob. The 6 or so people I spoke to most closely on this first night were to become my closest friends in London, one of the greatest things that has happened this past year. However the year wasn't as peachy and perfect as my Facebook status' and Instagram posts may have suggested. My friends and family abroad who kept messaging me wishing for my 'dream lifestyle' didn't see that everyday life still has long commutes, disputes, unpleasant encounters and the mundane everyday tasks that follow you irrespective of where you live. So in true expat fashion I decided to capitalise on the take away lessons and that's where the real adventures began. For those pining for a life they seemingly feel they can't achieve, read how to make my 'dream life' a reality for you too. 

1. Look up. Embrace life, enjoy your surroundings, be mindful of it. Travelling will teach you that your current scenery is completely unique and deserves your attention. You will crave it once you've left it.


2. Life is about fun. Explore, have adventures, try something new, change your routine, meet new people anyway you can and get out of your comfort zone. Life is best when you are uncomfortable enough to see where it takes you.

3. Make choices to be happy. If your not happy change something. It is never the end of the world if a choice ends up being a mistake; life always leads us where we are meant to be. So think about your happiness, have faith and hold on for goodness to manifest itself.

4. Something's don't matter. Don't fuss. Fuss is the root of all time wastage. Don't fuss over anything that you'll forget about tomorrow. Some cultures teach you that it's completely necessary to quit the crap and get on with it. As much as I love London, fuss has to be my pet hate and London and the UK love breeding fuss. Life is already full of hurdles, don't make any unnecessary ones for yourself.

5. Save, get in debt and save.
Life is not perfect, saving consistently will teach you who you are but funnily enough debt will teach you more. Be sensible about it but don't fear it. Master the ability to use credit to your advantage, don't let it rule you. Enjoy life. Live it. Appreciate what you have when you do have pennies. After all we only truly appreciate what we have until it's gone.

6. Do something completely on your own. Last year I attended an art exhibition for Nic Joly, met him and a screenwriter. I made an acquaintance with the lady who runs specialist exhibitions and now she recognises me whenever I walk into her gallery which is the loveliest feeling. I still recall though how I felt before I left for the exhibition solo, my palms sweaty, anxiously playing with anything I could get my hands on and trying as hard as possible not to do sideways glances of 'yes I'm here with no one'. That night I met about 10 different people from various walks of life and I learnt that the privledged don't necessarily look down on average Joe's like me. I also found a great confidence in myself for hanging out with unknown people for a couple of hours on my own instead of the 20minutes I thought I'd last.


7. Once in a while don't listen to your gut. Most of the time our instincts and our gut align beautifully but sometimes our gut communicates anxieties or 'realities' that actually don't exist. So once in a while put your 'feelings' away and try something that feels different or 'off'. Granted I've only done it twice but both times it paid off.

8. Be a tourist in your own town. Don't stop exploring because you are used to everyday tasks, find something new to explore. Which leads me to my next point...

9. Embrace the tourists. For those of us that live in places frequented by a mass amount of tourists it can become easy to be that cranky Londoner (for example) who avoids all tourist areas. Why be so bitter? Tourists can teach us a lot and help us to reconnect with the things we love, or show us the things we overlook. We shouldn't avoid them. So put your happy pants on and embrace the crowds, selfie sticks, funny poses and iconic landmarks.

10. Revel in the opportunity to create a challenge for yourself. As most people do working contracts or supply work, I have learnt time and time again that working your toosh off to have unpaid holidays (especially when your not paid for all the hours you work already) really bites. But you can mope about and whinge or you can adopt a challenge mentality. How many free things can you do? Why not take a friend out when that's all over and do a blind window shop, where you pick outfits for your friend and they for you. You have no choice but to try the items on, when your done you're guaranteed to gain some laughs and possibly ideas for a new wardrobe because you got out of your head for a minute. It works trust me! Or when you have £10 for a week challenge yourself to find the most amount of prepared meals you can make for yourself that stretch beyond the week. The best part about this is I guarantee you'll carry these lifeskills with you and soon you'll see the most expensive city in the world can still be magnificently enjoyed for next to nothing.

11. Just go. Quite possibly my favourite life mantra. Several times over the past year I have packed my camera, a scarf, lipgloss travelled to Waterloo station to pick a random destination off the board I've never been to, to just go! The feeling is fabulous. I've been to some places that weren't on my high list of priorities and I have had a few funny incidences whereby trains were held up by landslides or diverted but for the most part it is seamless, chilled out fun. The best part is, I never know where I'm headed until I open my eyes and look where my finger is pointing. Truly liberating.

12. Be happy, be cranky but be real. Wherever you are this is the most important thing of all. Feel how you feel on purpose. If there is no need and your deflecting emotions you haven't dealt with sort your issues out. There are so many people that walk around with their emotional backpacks on yet are the first to attack anyone who is dealing with their emotions publicly. Be real. You are not fooling anyone anyway and you'll feel better.

When I did all of these things and focused on maintaining the positive rage I had some amazing experiences.
-I was headhunted for my writing
-I made the best friends I've ever had
-I met famous people
-I ended up travelling 21 countries
-I developed my confidence in various aspects of my life
-I grew my creativity
-I lost weight unintentionally
-I developed superwoman like mental strength and a clarity about what I want.
-Most importantly I knew that comparing my reality to others would rob my ability to be grateful for what I have.

As one of my close friends Sof says, 'we live in one of the most amazing cities in the world and many of us just walk by as if it just is a city and nothing more'. London is an amazing city full of opportunity, history teaming with events and new ideas it is extremely different to my island home in Queensland that I left. But to compare the city with waking up and being able to walk to the beach, being warm every day of the year, having amazing scenery all around me would only keep me thinking that the grass is greener on the other side and it's not. It's merely different. Both are beautiful in their realities but they aren't able to be compared they must simply be enjoyed for what they are.

To all of those Londoners, Aussies and average Joe's all over the world who look at and idolise someone else's life I implore you to idolise your own. Till next time...


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