Drowning

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning? Like no matter how hard you kick and struggle you can’t make it to the surface? Like no matter how many times your hand reaches out, no one is there to grab it?

Me too.

I feel like I am drowning almost everyday. Each time I wake up, each time my head surfaces, a new wave crashes over me; and I am struggling all over again. Every time I am close to drawing breath, I find myself too exhausted to give myself that final push, too exhausted to keep going, keep trying.

I think that everyone, in their own way, is drowning a little more everyday. It is as if the world is made of billions of oceans, and each person is trapped in their own one. Each wave is tailored to their struggle, each pull of the water to their despair. You may be drowning in worry, or in stress, or in insecurities. The waves of your ocean may mimic the anxieties you carry on your back, or the sadness that weighs down your chest each night.

It is important to note that the waves are not the real enemy here. They are not the monster that you need to be overcoming. You are. Because without you, the waves would not exist at all.

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Top 5 things to do in New York

I was in New York for 5 days from December 29 2017 to January 3 2018 and it definitely was not enough time! New York is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities I have ever visited and it is probably one of my favourites. If, like me, you only have a very short amount of time to spend in the city make sure to do these 5 things!

1. Ice skate in Central Park. I know that this one is season dependant, I was in the city during their winter so this was possible for me but if you visit in summer it won’t be. If you are lucky enough to be able to do this, then do. It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life; skating around with a group of strangers in the middle of one of the amazing parks that was covered in a thick blanket of snow. It was beautiful and I would definitely recommend skating on the park rather than at Rockefeller Centre, which I know is the more popular choice.

2. Visit the New York public library. Not only do they have a seriously amazing selection of novels but they have the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys that Christopher Milne possessed when he was a child. It’s something that cannot be missed, it is truly spectacular and something that only comes along once in a lifetime

3. Get a pizza from Joe’s on Broadway. This has been voted the best New York pizza, and for good reason. Slices are only $3 a piece and are so unbelievably delicious. There are photos crowding one wall that show all the celebrities that have visited there so you know it’s good.

4. Climb the Empire State Building. Not only is this an amazing building to be able to say you reached the top of, it provides the most amazing views of the New York Skyline. You can see everything for miles in each direction. Not only does the tower have brilliant views but it has super interesting facts about the actual building of the tower.

5. Visit the 9/11 museum. I will warn you, this museum is incredibly difficult to visit. The exhibits are really moving and really sad and really overwhelming but I think it’s incredibly important to look at them. It helps you to understand the event in a way that felt impossible to before. However, I do recommend those with a direct relationship to the event and young children do not visit, it will possibly be too distressing.

Tips for long distance travel

Anyone who has travelled long distance (that’s a journey over 5 hours) can tell you that it sucks. Like really, really sucks. As someone who has travelled long distance so often they could have reached the moon by now, I feel pretty qualified to speak about this subject. Long distance travel sucks, there isn’t any way around that, but there are a couple of things you can do to make it more comfortable for yourself.

  1. Take your own water.
    Now obviously I am aware that if you take a full water bottle to the airport you won’t be allowed to take it through security, they’ll make you throw it away. BUT if you take an empty water bottle, that will get through security and you can fill it up once you get to the other side. Airplanes will often cups of water to you but the problem with that is its a cup. If you can’t manage the whole cup at once then you’re forced to sit for a while with your tray table down with one little cup of water on it. Save yourself the hassle, take a personal water bottle with you.
  2. Take a neck pillow.
    Okay, neck pillows are probably the most annoying things to have to carry around the airport with you but trust me, it is worth it for that extra little bit of comfort. It isn’t a lot, but neck pillows can keep your head from bouncing around all over the place.
  3. Put your carry on in the overhead compartment.
    Lets be real, there are about 3 things in your carry on that you will actually use during the flight. It is a much better idea to take out your few items and put them in the little pocket and save all that leg room on the floor. Okay, it isn’t actually that much, but not having a bag under the chair in front of you means that you can stretch your legs out into that space and it is just that bit more comfortable.
  4. Don’t queue up for the plane to get on first.
    Honestly what is the point? You’re all getting on the same plane, getting on last just means that you don’t have to sit on it for as long waiting for it to take off. Use all the time you can to stretch your legs in the airport.
  5. Pick your movies wisely!
    Don’t watch movies that are really short, because then you’ll get through a million of them and it will feel like you’ve been flying for your entire life. Pick movies that are 2 and half to 3 hours long, movies like Titanic kind of length, and you’ll get through less and the flight will seem shorter. Trust me!!

 

Tips for travelling for long periods

On the 19th February of this year I arrived back in Australia after spending two and a half months travelling around the United States with my two sisters. The experience is one I will never forget, for both good and bad reasons, and, looking back, there are a lot of things I would do differently to make the trip more enjoyable. My experience abroad was probably the best experience of my life so far, but I will definitely use it as something to learn from when I plan my future travels.
The first thing I would change is what I packed. I was away for a significant period of time and the bulk of that time was spent in the freezing cold so I, of course, packed a lot of jumpers. I took 6 jumpers away with me, and I wore the same 3 the entire holiday. Cutting down on packing is never really a bad thing, especially in the case of bulkier items like jumpers because if you arrive and find that you need more you can simply buy what you’re after. I lugged 6 ginormous jumpers across the world with me and it was completely pointless because I just didn’t need them. Because it was so cold I was wearing multiple layers every day and so my jumpers never really got dirty and never really needed washing so I could afford to re-wear them again and again.
Secondly, I would put aside more spending money. I knew that being away for as long as I was meant that I would spend more money than on a regular holiday but I needed a bit more than I had. I’m quite frugal so I put aside the bare minimum that I thought I would need to be able to purchase souvenirs for both myself and my partner. It turns out, I bought a lot more than I thought I would. And it wasn’t just in souvenirs, I was also buying clothes that I saw that looked really nice because prices seem to be slightly cheaper in the US. My advice for spending money while travelling is to budget for more than what you think you’ll need.
This next tip runs along the same lines as budgeting more spending money: eat out less! I was away for two and a half months, so that’s 75 days. I spent 75 eating out. Which is both really unhealthy and really expensive! Now, eating out for dinner is basically unavoidable, I understand that. But eating out for breakfast and lunch can be. When you’re away for long as I was you have the ability to buy things like cereal and milk for breakfast and bread and peanut butter for lunch. It will save you probably a thousand dollars if you don’t eat out for every meal as often happens when you go away.
Finally, stop being so concerned with what is going on back home. I spent a large portion of my holiday wondering what everyone was doing without me, whether they were missing me, whether they weren’t, what I was missing out on. Part of that is simply my personality, I’m a worrier about things like that; about stupid things that I have no control over. And that’s the thing: all those things I was worrying about, I had absolutely no control over. I was halfway across the world having the experience of a lifetime and I spent it all focused on what everyone else was doing with their summer. When you go away, go away. You should keep contact with the people you’ve left behind, of course you should do that, I probably couldn’t have gotten through two and half months away from my partner without getting to talk to him as much as I did. My point is, you shouldn’t concern yourself with what they are doing, with what you’re missing out on, because it just distracts you from the amazing experiences that you are having.

Have lunch alone

Today was a pretty big day for me. I had lunch by myself in public for the first time in my life. Sounds pretty stupid that I’ve gone 19 years without being in the company of myself but if you knew me you would understand.

I am an incredibly self-conscious person, the thought of doing anything on my own terrifies me because I always think someone else is going to be watching and judging and talking about me. And that’s something that I don’t know how to deal with just yet. But today I had lunch on my own. I went to the counter on my own, ordered on my own, talked to the salesperson on my own, sat down on my own at my own table, and simply enjoyed my own company. It’s funny because I’ve spent all this time being terrified at the concept and, honestly, it was kind of really nice. I didn’t have to talk to anybody, I didn’t have to do anything, I just sat with my thoughts.

I’m not going to shake being self-conscious overnight but eating alone, it’s a start. Honestly, I think everyone should have lunch with themselves sometimes, it’s the perfect opportunity to get to know yourself a little better, to zone out and to relax. And, if you’re like me and you’re constantly thinking other people are concerning themselves with you, they most likely aren’t. They, probably, are like you, they are more concerned with their own self.

Being your own hero

If someone were to ask you who your hero is, who would you answer with? Your mum? Dad? A celebrity perhaps? Favourite teacher maybe? All of these answers are fine, good even, but I think that when asked who your hero is you should answer: “myself”.

I have had innerable insecurities throughout my 19 years, some of which remain in existence, but I am finally at a place where I am comfortable. It’s taken me a long time to be okay with who I am, and to be honest I’m far from being all of the way there, but I’m not so sure that anyone is. We all go through life with insecurities and with doubts and we all face challenges, some that may seem impossible to overcome and yet, despite this animosity, we thrive. We live amazing lives and we do amazing things, all the while battling our own inner demons. And I reckon that’s pretty heroic.

A hero is generally a person whom you find inspirational and I believe we all have the capacity to be inspired by ourselves. We overcome tremendous difficulties throughout our lives and we accomplish incredible things and this is something to be proud of; to be inspired by. In the fall of last year I went through a devastating personal trauma, one that I didn’t think I would be able to get through. But I found my courage and I muddled along and now, despite still feeling the effects of the situation, I am doing much better than I once was. And I can be inspired by that. I have bad days, we all do, but that time in my life reminds me of an instance in which I was brave and in which I managed to get through and that inspires me to keep going. I know I won’t be the only one with a story of this sort, we all go through terrible personal incidences, but instead of seeing them as a moment of our most weak, we should marvel at our strength.

Hero’s are personified as almighty beings who battle the demons that plague the earth. Perhaps we are not almighty beings, and perhaps we cannot rid the world completely of its demons but, as Itzhak Stern said, “whoever saves one life, saves the World entire”. And who says the one life shouldn’t be your own? We save a life every single day, just by being and by living, and that is the true mark of a hero.

Back to the words

Two years ago I would have labelled myself an avid reader; I was rarely without a book in my hand, rarely without a world to escape to. But as time progressed and as I got older I found the time that I had for reading was significantly decreasing. Then suddenly, I wasn’t reading at all.

In 2015 I read 54 books. In 2016/2017 combined I read 5. It isn’t that I’d stopped enjoying reading, it isn’t that I’d run out of material to read, it was simply that I’d run out of room in my life. Or I thought I had anyway. Pre-2016 I very much kept to myself; I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t have a social life so every spare moment I had went to reading. However, in 2016 everything seemed to change: I found a solid group of friends and started to actually spend my free time with people outside of fictitious realms.

While I don’t regret forming better social connections, I do regret that I didn’t carve out some time for myself to enjoy a good book. I am determined to change how things are this year. I will keep my social life, I will continue my job, I will work hard at my studies and I will read. Because reading makes me really happy and we need to make time in our lives for the things that make us happy.

So reading is making a comeback in my life, even if it’s only a chapter a day I am determined to keep reading, to keep exploring new worlds. I am determined to get back to the words.

Back to myself

Sometimes my soul seems to detatch from my body; it’s like I’m floating away, removed from reality. My vision goes very dark, and everything gets very loud and very hot and then there is nothing. And then I’m back again.

This has become a pretty regular phenomenon and I’m not sure what starts it, and I’m not sure where it comes from, but it happens. The most important thing, though, is that I can stop it.

You see, it starts, and it happens, and it feels like I’m losing control, like I am actually going to be removed from my physical form and float away into nothingness. But somehow I manage to hold on and come back to earth, and that’s what this post is all about. That no matter how far we get from ourselves we can find a tether, we can come back to earth.

Back to ourselves.

Sometimes it’s hard, especially when things feel hard and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, but we do it anyway. We do it because we have to, but, more importantly, we do it because we want to. Because we have people and experiences to live for, to stay here for. And I think that’s pretty amazing.

Why you should always travel alone

I feel like I should admit that I’ve never actually travelled by myself before, BUT I did just finish up travelling America for 2 months with my sisters and believe me, that gives me enough credit to discuss this topic. Travelling with my sisters wasn’t the worst thing in the world but the entire time we were away I couldn’t help thinking how much easier it would be had I travelled solo.

The most difficult thing about travelling with other people is having to compromise. Compromising in regular everyday situations is fine but you shouldn’t have to if you’re away on a very expensive holiday. I felt like I had to compromise a lot, because everyone had to be happy with what activity we were do, which meant I felt like I was missing out on a lot of stuff that I really wanted to do.

The second most challenging aspect is having to get along. It is incredibly incredibly difficult to continue to like someone when they are a very different personality to you; when they are a loud personality and when you are in each other’s company all day everyday. There is never a time when you’re travelling that you get more than a moment’s peace, or more than a moment’s alone time. And man do you miss it. Being together constantly mixed with the fact that everyone is exhausted after long days means that tensions run high and fights are common. And who wants to fight while you’re away? No one, and no one should have to!

Half the purpose of travelling is to see the world, but I feel like the other half of it is to escape reality for a while and its hard to do that when you’re surrounded by people from your day-to-day life. Travelling alone would allow you to really get away from everything familiar and to fully experience something entirely new.

The point of travelling is to have a real life experience. I feel like that experience would be made better by going solo.

It’s turtles all the way down

I am a John Green fan for many reasons; his writing style is beautiful, he captures the essence of young adulthood perfectly, his novels are creative and witty, and, most importantly, what he writes about is so important. I read his 2017 novel Turtles all the Way Down during a particularly difficult period in my life and it put so much into perspective.

I can’t go in to too much detail about the plot itself because it is one of those things that you just have to read for yourself to understand but I will touch on some of the main reasons why this book should be read by everyone. One of the major themes of the novel was friendship, particularly the friendship between protagonist Ava and her best friend Daisy. Their friendship is, arguably, one of the most accomplished aspects of the novel. The relationship between the two isn’t perfect, not even close, but it feels real, more real than any other literary friendship I have had the pleasure of reading about.

While the book includes some romantic components, the romantic relationships formed are not prevalent enough to overshadow the main subject, they did, in fact, aid it. Slight spoiler but not really, Aza forms a brief relationship with one of the characters in the novel. Their struggles to be a couple and the perfectness of the not perfect ending are part of what make this novel John Green’s best: it’s real.

The major aspect of this novel is mental illness, which I was nervous about upon beginning this novel as I was unsure how well John Green, a middle-aged man, would be able to present mental illness in young adults. But it was perfect. And that is why Turtles all the Way Down is the most important novel of our time. Because it doesn’t sugar-coat mental illness, it doesn’t romanticise it, it presents it as it is; messy and unpredictable and, for some, something that is battled again and again.

John Green deserves every award a novelist can get for Turtles all the Way Down. It is the most important novel for this generation and a reading experience I will never forget. Turtles is the kind of book that stays with you long after you have finished reading it.