I let the pages rest in my hands, slowing drinking in every single word. The handwriting was the same: always joined and slightly spiked. The notebook; that same hardback beauty with its golden spiralled spine and boldly bright flower design. The checklists scattered every few pages. The lines of poetry I’d forgotten my pen had spun.
And yet I couldn’t believe those words were mine. The sentences bursting with fear. Sadness. Self-deprecation.
I speak a lot on this blog about the ways in which I have grown, how I have become, since leaving the UK in November 2015. I’ve talked about bravery and new perspectives. A desire to live my life according to my deepest values.
But it was only when I pulled my journal from the bottom of my backpack and began to make my way through its colourful pages that I realised how I had changed on an even shorter timeline.
The words “pressure“, “stress“, “anxiety” and “alone” jumped out every few pages. Then a couple of pages later I would tell of an “intoxicating light” and “the sun beating down effortlessly on my back, its warm whisper etching stories down my spine.”
I was up and down. Up and down. Up and down.
One entry simply ended “I don’t want to hate myself like this. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore.”
And those excruciating words took me back to that period where shadows would fold themselves across my mind. The crushing sense of desperation. The numbness swiftly crawling into an overwhelming shock.
These entries were not from before my travels. They were from 6 months ago. 6 short months when I found myself in a pit I struggled to climb out of.
There were no hints of confidence or self love in their pages. And whilst moments of joy and inspiration would shine through, they were always undermined by uncertainty. The gems of hope were dirtied, never quite clear.
As I passed from entry to entry, I found myself dejected.
Was this the person I really was? Was this person so deeply ingrained into me she would always find a way to resurface?
That was until I came to the later entries. The ones after I had confronted my past and my present. When I had begun to take the steps to control my own future.
“Because life doesn’t have to be so hard, does it? We can make something truly special out of it. We can love and we can be loved. Accept ourselves, scars and all.
We can live with passion and intent. Trust our values. Live by them.“
And with that? My spirit soared.
I’d then set out my goals for 2016. Not resolutions as such… more elements of my life I wanted to pursue and strengthen. These ranged from figuring out exactly where I wanted to take my life professionally to mastering the art of forgiveness. I noted how I wanted to travel further than Australia and to give in to passion whilst letting of hatred. I wanted it to be the year of Finding… myself, new cultures and new adventures. To finally focus on the present.
It was at that precise moment I realised… I had achieved all of these things. Better still, I had achieved them with confidence, self-assurance and true happiness.
I now know exactly what I am going to do when I get back to the UK. A huge change, one that I am beyond excited for and already forming plans to make a reality. Something I have known was inside of me for the longest time.
I have forgiven the person I thought I would never let back in. Begun to build a new relationship, learning from the past and crafting a stronger future.
I left Australia and travelled to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and back again.
I no longer harbour hatred for anyone. Those that bring anything other than joy and love into my life simply don’t deserve a place there. It’s as simple as that. No resentment, only acceptance.
And Finding myself? Finding new cultures, new adventures?
It’s what this whole journey has been about.
The realisation casting a spotlight over the progress I had made… how I really am living in the moment for the first time in my life… it made me wonder how many of us disregard our own growth. The way our spirits become more accomplished every single day. The steps we take to overcome what pains us, what scares us. The subtle difference between waking up already defeated compared to walking out of the door and immediately noticing the fresh smell of spring air or the first rays of sunshine glistening across our footsteps. The choice to sit and read a book that inspires us on our commute to work against an hour spent trawling through social media, comparing ourselves to every fake entity it presents.
Because it’s the little things, isn’t it? Those seemingly insignificant changes that make all the difference. The slight shifts that culminate in something magnificent.
My journal helped show me the person I had become through challenging myself and daring to try. Why not take a few moments today to recognise the wonderful ways you continue to grow with every single breath? The reasons for you to be proud. To be grateful for the incredible person you really are.
Be present in your own journey.