Around the Christmas holidays, we all have a tendency to reflect on how the year has panned out. This year has been a huge change for me – I made the move from Perth to London. I transitioned from scorching summers, ocean breeze and weekend brunches to jammed tube rides, puffer jackets and a whole bunch of people saying “you right?” without expecting a response. I also turned 25 – an age that makes you question your whole life up until that point. As it’s December now, I decided that it was time to create a reflection of 2023. And what better way to do that than write about it.
Turning 25: A coming of age
I recently told someone that my favourite genre of film is coming-of-age. Usually in a film that tells a coming of age story, the protagonist starts off anxious and incapable. After overcoming countless obstacles and difficult experiences, they slowly step into the best version of themselves. It can involve outgrowing people, meeting new people that shape your outlook on life, learning how to be alone and independent, and facing experiences that terrify you – but all are essential in the name of growth.
Alone is the word I would use to describe my year – alone but not lonely. Moving away from the comfort of my family and old friends was confronting. But it meant that I could develop my own sense of self away from what I have always known. Turns out that I actually love my own company and the feeling of creating my own memories and connections from scratch. Turning 25 has been so much and so little at the same time – I have learnt and grown deeply this year as a person. But it’s also just a number and life doesn’t have to stop being enjoyable (and you don’t have to stop acting like a kid) just because you reach a certain age.
Relationships & being single
As long as I can remember, I have been fantasising about marrying an English boy. I used to watch The Ashes with my mum and she’d be furious with me whenever I cheered for England. The reason I cheered for England? Stuart Broad. He had the accent and long legs that just made a girl crazy. In the second month of me being in London, I actually started dating an English boy. He was everything that I’d ever hoped for – he grew up in Cambridge, was tall, blonde, had blue eyes, great arms, and the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard. But, as we all know, relationships are never quite as easy as they seem.
I’ve experienced this year in two halves – the half with him and the half without. And while it’s wonderful to share moments of your life with someone, it’s also important to remember that you can do it on your own, too. Here’s what not to do: be with someone because you’re lonely, be with someone because you’re attracted to their emotional unavailability, or be with someone because you love their accent. In all seriousness, sometimes people just aren’t right for you. No matter how hard it may feel – never settle for crumbs, lower your standards, or change yourself for someone else. If this person isn’t it, be alone until you can find someone who is.
I have done a total of 47 days of travel this year outside of my work schedule. This has been the most I’ve ever travelled in one year (and technically I am still travelling by just being in the UK) and I have loved it. There is something about the combination of long train rides and moody playlists that keeps calling me. Despite the exhilaration that is travel, I always find myself longing for routine again after a short time. Travel can be hard, physically and mentally draining, and lonely. You don’t always make friends, you don’t always love the places you go and you don’t always feel safe and comfortable.
But, no matter how hard it is, seeing new places is truly amazing. Travel being challenging almost makes it better – there’s never a dull moment. Every time I have visited a new place, my eyes have been opened to new ideas and experiences. My favourite trips / days have been the ones where I have tried to immerse myself as much as possible. Spending a week on a Turkish goulet in the Mediterranean, riding on the back of my airbnb host’s moped around a small Thai island, or walking down the streets of Paris listening to French classics. When travelling alone, I try to put myself out there as much as I can. Friends make the time you have that much better.
What I’ve learnt & loved
This year I’ve fallen in love. With the English countryside, Olivia Dean’s music, British tv shows, my Royal Mail deliveryman, writing, white chocolate mochas, the rain, Dolly Alderton, red-brick terraced houses, spending time with friends who make you laugh until you cry, and spending time with myself. The most important thing that I’ve learnt this year is – nothing is ever what you make it out to be in your head. Be adaptable, be open to change, and choose to see the best in every situation. Suffering is inevitable, joy is out there to be found, and you are more capable than you know.
Cover photo by Rüveyda