The Storm

Location Penang, Malaysia

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2016 was a tough year for me. I honestly felt like I was drowning; I was being pulled in so many different directions and I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I feel every emotion to the fullest extent, and my mind often feels like a whirlpool; constantly swirling with a whirlwind of emotions. It really feels like there is a raging storm going on inside, even if on the outside it might sometimes seem like a calm front.

After finishing my internship at Walt Disney World within the first few days of the year, I felt so incredibly lost. Walt Disney World was one of the first places I felt really, truly happy; as if I belonged somewhere. That’s not to say it didn’t take time for me to feel like I belonged, or that it wasn’t difficult, or that there weren’t moments when I didn’t want to be there; but for what I think is the first time, I felt like I truly belonged. I’ve always been an introvert, and I’m not necessarily the best at connecting with people . I hate small talk and social niceties, and I have little interest in being friends with people that I don’t truly connect with; which means that I’ve always had a small group of friends. Before leaving for Florida, I was drifting apart from a lot of my friends as we grew up – I know it happens to almost everyone, but I found it incredibly difficult. When you only have a small group of friends to begin with you notice each and every loss, and I felt like something was wrong with me. Why do I think the way I do? Why do I find it so hard to connect with people and make friends?

But then I arrived in Florida. Although it took time, I met so many amazing people that were true kindred spirits. I was no longer alone, and I was inexplicably happy. Spending my days with true friends, working in such a magical place and having such crazy adventures is something for which I will be eternally grateful. Leaving was hard – not only was I leaving a job I loved, and the Disney magic that made me so happy, but I also had to move away from the friendships that had kept me going through everything. After being in such close quarters to my friends all the time, we were suddenly living on opposite sides of the country, if not the world. Whilst I stayed in contact with each and every one of my friends I met in Florida, it wasn’t the same as living together. Once again, I felt alone.

I guess 2016 felt like I was stuck in limbo – I was back in Perth finishing my degree, but I felt like I wasn’t getting any closer to achieving my goals and making my dreams come true. Sure, I graduated, but I feel that I didn’t get a lot out of my final year – most of my learning came from me teaching myself, and I felt like I was wasting time being at university. Creatively, I felt incredibly uninspired. Whilst I love Perth, there are extremely limited opportunities here for what I want to do, and I guess I felt like I was just biding my time until I could finish my degree and head out into the real world. At the same time, I was scared. I knew that the end of 2016 meant the end of my time in school, and although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the education system, it was a bit of a security blanket. Because I knew that once I left, I was on my own. I wanted to chase my dreams, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there.

The one period I really felt happy during 2016 was my trip to France and Italy with my Mum, to celebrate my 21st birthday. It was like I could finally be myself again – I hadn’t even realised it, but I had lost my sense of self for a while there. I felt like being in Perth with limited opportunities and most of my friends not being there had been dragging me down, but suddenly a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and it felt like I could see the sun again. Exploring the art, the culture, the history; it made me start to identify the things that really made me happy, and caused me to think about what I really wanted to do once I left university.

Now 2016 is over, and 2017 has arrived. I am determined that this year, I will focus on being happy and chasing my dreams, no matter how crazy. I have always loved travelling; absorbing new cultures and learning different ways of life, and this year I am going to do it, while I am young and have little to tie me down. At the moment I’m looking at different places to go and things to do, exploring all my options, and I think that within a month or two I’ll be off, with no plans to return any time soon.

It’s funny; as soon as I made this decision, I felt so much lighter. I’ve been in Malaysia with my family over the holiday season, and honestly was dreading returning home – I felt like I was going to get stuck in a rut, without moving any closer towards following my dreams. But about halfway through our trip, I made the decision to try to forget about all my worries (much easier said than done, when you stress as much as I do), to forget about the money and a traditional career path, and to just go and live my life. I want to travel, so I should do it. Instantly, my creative block was over, and I felt so inspired and motivated again. That’s what all this is about – me trying to be a little bit more adventurous and just live my life, without worrying too much. To try and open myself up and share more of my work with the world, to explore and push the boundaries of my creativity. Honestly, it feels a bit strange, as I am typically more guarded in what I share with the outside world, but I think that to chase my dreams, I need to start opening up and giving free reign to the storm that is in my mind – to control and channel that depth of emotion into something positive. So here it goes – bring it on, 2017.

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