Solo in paradise

Here is a draft of a blog post I wrote back in early December 2017 but wasn’t brave enough to publish:

“Haha. Hahahaha. Hahahahahahahaha. (I’m only laughing hysterically because if I don’t, I might just cry hysterically).

If you’d told me when I posted my last blog that by the time I wrote the next one I’d be newly single and travelling solo (in Speedy, of course) in the flat and arid countryside of the state of Victoria, in the sweltering heat with no AC, and not a kindred spirit in a 50km radius, I’d probably have just shot myself then and there and got it over with. However, since I wasn’t given a heads up about the path my life was going to take, here I am. And boy, do I have a lot of time to mull over the life decisions which have brought me to this point.

I’m here to complete the 24 days of regional work I have left (out of 88) which I need to acquire to be eligible for a second year working holiday visa here in Australia. Sure, I could have done what a number of people I know have, and applied without doing the countryside toil… but seeing as a) I already have 64 days under my belt, and b) the universe is seemingly enjoying throwing surprises at me right now, this is something I didn’t particularly want to leave up to chance. Oh, did I mention that I only have until December 20th to get this done? And that I’ve been here a week, in a campsite with no Wi-Fi and barely any other guests? And also that I haven’t even started work yet because there have been thunderstorms every day? Yeeeeah.”

Life had become a little… erratic. Or maybe that was just my mental state. So let me fill you in, from a better emotional place, on the rest of the story.

I’m in Bali right now, and I thought I’d take some time off from the tentative tightrope I’m walking between enjoying generous clean green smoothie bowls and, on the other hand, copious amounts of rum, to write a little about my experience thus far and what brought me here (both literally and figuratively). I find I’m better at expressing myself through writing and reading things back can give me a better perspective on situations and myself.

This is, of course, my first time travelling abroad solo. In case anyone didn’t know, Rob and I broke up last September. I know – I’ve heard it all already: “I thought you’d be together for life!”, “I can’t imagine you with anyone else!”, “WTF!?!”. I’m feeling good with the situation, but maybe those hearing this for the first time will take some time to get used to it. Please don’t ask me questions about it, it’s just one of those things. When you think your life is pretty much mapped out and then everything changes oh, so suddenly, it’s more than a little overwhelming. Without getting into any gory details (as much as that’s probably what everyone wants to know), let me put it here that I wish him the very best in everything he does in life.

Now. Why Bali? Well, firstly, why not? It’s beautiful. Full of young, open-minded, entrepreneurial, good time folk. And after a hectic few months in Australia navigating life after four and a half years with the same person, juggling new friendships and romances and a heck of a lot of hours in work, I felt like I just needed to break free and ‘do ME, girl‘. Nine months in one city whilst travelling is a long time, and I had some of the most fun of my life in Melbourne, but by the end it felt like it was getting smaller and smaller, closing in on me until eventually I felt like I was choking. I definitely wasn’t quite myself – for the last few months especially – after completing my last month of farm work alone in a total hillbilly town in northern Victoria, my only consistent companion being my beautiful van Speedy. A loyal friend (and home) she was, but not the best conversation. Whilst I was up there, struggling with the lack of human contact, I found out that my wonderful Gramma passed away back in Wales, leaving a strange combination of grief and relief. She was 96, her health had been deteriorating for quite some time, so I knew she was now at peace and felt no pain, but I felt so helpless. Due to complications with applying for my second year visa, I couldn’t fly home to attend the funeral, so closure was something I had to get by myself on the other side of the world. I don’t think I did a great job, because I felt a black cloud over me for the coming months, like an itch that couldn’t be scratched, and I felt supremely homesick. Then came the second part of the double whammy. Dan, a beautiful soul I and many others called a friend, passed away this Valentine’s Day, a few days before his 28th birthday. After this devastating news, I just knew I needed to be home and around ‘my people’ as soon as I could scrape together enough money. I had been living with the rainstorm over my head for too long already. If one doesn’t prioritise their own health and wellbeing, who will? Only I can make change in my own life if I’m not happy. I sold Speedy (a task I’d been really half-assing because I wasn’t ready to let go), gave notice to my douchebag of a manager (which felt amazing) and booked to go home via Los Angeles and San Francisco, to catch up with some friends and family en route. I hadn’t seen a soul from home for almost a year and a half. And seeing them was just what I needed. But after a few weeks, there was the question of “what next?”. Stay home? For good? Nah, thanks. I still have a powerful wanderlust inside me, like a wave crashing over and over, that I need to see more and meet more likeminded people. I needed something that home couldn’t provide.

This trip is certainly somewhat of a soul search as much as a time to relax and recharge. I’ve already realised that pretty much everyone in the world is walking around not really knowing what the darn is going on, some just camouflage it better than others. Everyone is just trying to navigate this tom-foolery called life and find their niche. Their people. Their ideal job. The place they feel most at home. And it’s okay that I haven’t necessarily found mine yet, because I will, but right now it’s in the pockets of my backpack. It’s on Balinese beaches sipping on a fresh coconut. It’s in meeting a beautiful soul in the morning and becoming roommates by the afternoon. I have no magic wand – I’m just trying to keep afloat in this new chapter of being… little old me. At home, I started to panic that I wasn’t doing enough, achieving enough, working enough. Seeing what people I went to school with are up to made me doubt the decisions I’d made. I don’t have a degree, I don’t exactly know what career path I want to pursue, and hell, I’m definitely not ready for a house, a marriage, kids. And those are the symbols of ‘success’, right? Sure – if you’re happy. But you couldn’t pay me enough to live that life right now. And I’m proud of myself for having the guts to fly across the world on my own and be doing okay. It’s scary and exhilarating. I’m making daily mental notes not to let pressure from peers, society or myself marr the amazing time of self discovery and freedom I’m so fortunate to be able to experience.

So, right now, I’m gonna focus on smoothie bowls ‘n’ rum, and chasing my dream, cuz this beautiful, cultural, eclectic island isn’t gonna explore itself. 🌴