Growing up in a five-person household where love and encouragement were aplenty but money, stability and staples were lacking, I was compelled to be a dreamer from an early age: a complete romanticist. I dreamed of being a ballerina, a superhero, an archaeologist, a writer, an artist, an Olympian. As an example, I enjoyed playing G.I. joes with my twin brother where the front-yard tap was located, pretending the running tap was a waterfall and the gush of water was a natural obstacle where few figurines survived. Not to mention the battle fought against the worms and the butchy boys. I remember watching the animation film Fern Gully and for days after at school, I attempted to grow beautiful gardens with nothing but a tree seed, my hands and belief!
Throughout all of my childhood, creativity was encouraged. Making mud pies, drawing up my own paper dolls, dancing six days a week, creating our own news reels. And wander: Dad and I would collect seashells; Mum would excitedly show me the city lights over the Westgate Bridge, calling them “fairy lights”. There was always magic and optimism and beauty and freedom of expression in everything around me. My imagination was unlimited and all consuming. I was happy making characters out of grapes and toothpicks; I was happy looking at art and seeing depth, colour and unknown endeavors.
As I grew up I kept romanticising, kept dreaming until it became an escape- an escape I never seemed to act on. Struggling with social pressures, I thought too much. I forgot patience. I then forgot how to create freely. I then forgot to accept mistakes and to appreciate failure. I forgot to waste time. The magic left me and I became no longer free. I had to prove who I was and what I was doing and why I was doing it. I traveled and was starving to be successful, trying to grasp the status I had worked so hard for. I wanted to prove myself so much in order to be understood.
But I was a contradiction: hugely ambitious but transparent and not ego-driven. If I kept within social parameters, I was easily manageable. I struggled with false ideals, feeling more and more lost and inconsolable. I did not know what loving yourself was and I did not apply the notion of self-belief. Extremely confident and bubbly, passionate, curious, enthusiastic and intense. Yet that seemed to be the problem. Internally I was fighting anxiety, depression and insecurity, showcasing denial through a constant journey of “self-improvement”. I felt rejected and incredibly alone. I broke.
When I did, I realised I could not keep improving and searching for the next flaw to cure. There was no cure. I had to then break the mould. I learnt to be honest with myself. I would say it has been the most liberating aspect of my existence. From then on, I have stripped back the unnecessary layers of conditioning starting from my childhood through to intimate relationships through to current expectations and biases of a Western, 30 year-old corporate, single woman. Every day is a battle against comparison, conditioning, self-doubt and influence. It is exceptionally difficult to stay true to yourself, please note. It is a very lonely and confrontational journey, serving you more tears and joy than you would experience in a lifetime without it. You learn, however, to be present and to appreciate the simplest things. And you start to believe you are enough and discover exploration is interwoven in the fabric of living.
But it is an ongoing adventure of trial and error as you get closer and closer to being completely truthful. Recently, after twelve months of working for an income to support my start-up, it dawned on me more and more frequently that I had no time for living, for enjoying, for magic. I accepted I had lost all the freedoms which personify my character. Even though I was full of self-acceptance, my environment did not align with who I was. I was exhausted and miserable, living and breathing a societal norm that did not accept me (and I did not accept it). Feeling suppressed, I decided to return to the purest form of myself. I realised I was more than capable of fulfilling my dreams and enabling myself without any dependency. I taught myself to look outward and I changed my path: one which led me back to a more refined purpose consisting of wandering, connecting, immersing and absorbing. One where magic would reappear.
This takes me now to the present. In two days, I leave for Moscow- a place exuding history, arts, philosophy and culture. The trip is indefinite and I hope to then move to Western Europe. Then possibly Eastern Europe. All I know is there will be an adventure of living and honesty. A whole cycle of emotions and thoughts to follow. Snow gently falling and haunting folk music and ornate, beautiful objects, and a new world full of people to meet. The harsh winters, the sometimes-not-so-great cuisines and the language barriers. I am returning to my authentic self. And it is a wonderful time to be curious.