Innocents Lost.

I have written and re-written this post at least 10 times in the last 3 hours.

I have been mulling over what to say, and how to feel and thinking about what the families and friends of the hostages who made it out alive but also of those of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson must be feeling right now; and the truth is, I can’t.

We, as a nation, will never be the same. Just as family, friends and acquaintances will never be the same after some facing the possibility and others the reality, of losing those they love to a senseless crime like this.

It is all over social media and I am certainly not the first or last person to say it, but I feel like it needs to be said again: Terror failed today. It claimed the lives of two innocents, causing unfathomable pain and grief. It has enacted fear and violence. But it has failed.

Beyond what occurred within the exclusion zone at Martin Place, we have shown that we are strong and we protect our own. We will forever protect our own. This has not divided us, and it will not destroy us.

I was 6 years old when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the North and South Towers on September 11. I remember being sat down by my Year 2 teacher and I remember that my mum was very quiet that night when we were watching the television coverage. Beyond that, there wasn’t much I felt, because I wasn’t old enough to understand what to feel.

13 years later, the story is very different.

These people are the people I share my city with and while you cannot equate the value of two human lives in comparison to one another, we as a nation have never felt this degree of threat so close to home. I attended school with one of the hostages and while I haven’t seen or spoken to him in a great deal of time. The fear that I felt knowing that he was in there is something I didn’t think I could feel. No words can explain the fear that we felt because those held could have been a colleague, friend, relative or school mate.

About 25 hours ago, I checked my phone, I wanted to see what my friends were up to on Facebook and the first update I saw was from a close friend of mine reading:

“The Lindt cafe in Martin Place has been held up. Multiple hostages have been taken, and are being held with their hands in the air in the window of the cafe. A flag has been displayed and Martin Place and surrounding blocks have been shut down. Stay safe, everyone.”

I remember freezing in the toy section of Target and looking around to see why the scores of people doing their Christmas shopping weren’t making a fuss. A woman next to me had just hung up the phone and was telling her young daughter that “Daddy would be a little bit longer because he was stuck in traffic on George St in the city and that the police were helping the cars get home”.

The following few hours were a game of checking Twitter, calling my family to make sure no one was in the city, messaging my mum incessantly to make sure her office building was being monitored effectively and that she was okay, messaging my friends to make sure no one was going into the city. There is nothing more effective at instilling fear than making people feel like they don’t know when or where something awful could happen.

I have spent the last few hours trying to make sense of what has happened and I can’t.

I am not a person of significance to this city. My name isn’t on any buildings, I don’t control the way that we carry out the law, I don’t broadcast information to be consumed for the benefit of the masses (yet), but I am a child of this amazing city and a proud Australian. What has happened in the last 24 hours is unfathomable because it could have happened to anyone. Anyone who has grown up here or anywhere in Australia knows that we are good people. We are kind and considerate and when things get tough, we band together.

The awful condemnation of the Islamic community in light of this attack is as senseless as the attack itself. To think that this attack is a reflection of the people within the peaceful Australian Islamic community is to be a bigoted, hateful and un-Australian human being. This is not a reflection of these people. The fact that #illridewithyou has gone viral is a blessing. The fact it was necessary at all however, it concerning. We know that this was carried out by someone who was clearly sick and twisted. We know that the Muslim community of Australia is as much as part of our nation as anyone else. Regardless of whether you wear religious dress or a singlet and shorts with thongs, you are Australian and we support you.

I will never forget this day. No Australian can.
We will remember this as the day that we as a nation changed forever.

To the family and friends of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, the innocent lives lost; I cannot begin to understand the pain that you are feeling, nor would I presume to. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, they will forever be in the hearts and the minds of Australians as two ordinary individuals who acted extraordinarily. May they find peace and may they live on in your hearts.

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Chapter Three: Paris when it sprinkles.

Lessons learned:

– A wild American tourist appeared and he was polite. Who’d a thunk it?… They do exist!
– When in Paris, don’t run for the Metro, the next one will arrive before you finish reading this sentence.
– The French use the phrase “ooh la la” 100% seriously to communicate surprise. Par exemple: *it’s raining* “ooh la la”…
– Do not pretend to know how to speak French at the outset of the conversation, the person will assume you speak fluently and continue the conversation and you will not understand and then you will have to shake your head awkwardly and then you will feel like a complete muppet.
– Sleep is not for the weak. Sleep is for the smart traveller who recognises how bloody exhausting it is to hop three countries in a week.

~~~~~

There’s not much to say about Paris that hasn’t already featured in Hollywood films and every woman’s fantasy about how her fiancé will pop the question. It’s beautiful, it’s historic, the food is spectacular and when you’re with the one you love, I imagine that the molecules in the air are comprised of more pheromones than actual oxygen.

Don’t get me wrong folks, it’s incredible. Breathing Parisian air means inhaling an incomprehensibly delicious mixture of cigarette smoke, expensive perfume and garlic butter… Until you’re on the metro, at which point your olfactory senses are assaulted by the smells of pee, bad breath and BO, all emanating from the seedy looking man you’re pressed up against because there’s so many damn people in the carriage.

For me, this time at least, Paris was much less about the romance (wah) and much more about the family (Ohana etc etc.) and to be perfectly honest, it was better that way. While I’m aware that not all of us have family to visit while we’re overseas, even if that’s the case, do your research, don’t see the city like a tourist, explore like a local. Of course, see the sights, visit the Eiffel Tower, walk the Champs Élysées, but don’t overlook the way that people live in the city you’re in. Eat a light breakfast, stuff your face at lunch, have a siesta, drink too much great wine (albeit responsibly) at dinner, then get up and do it all again.

It seems to me that French also have an unshakeable sense of superiority over tourists (actually everyone really). Most clearly showcased on multiple occasions upon which I would catch someone staring at me, probably because I was speaking English and not their beloved French, and instead of looking away as most people do when the person in question catches you looking, would maintain eye contact.

I don’t know what it is with these people, but they’re hardcore.

Be wary: when travelling in Paris, understand that pickpockets exist and occur right in front of you, carry a backpack for luggage because escalators are few and far between at the lesser known Metro stops and don’t make eye contact with the violinist/accordionist who hops on the Metro to regale you with tunes that really kick you in the face with the reminder that yes, you are in Paris.

Do things that you wouldn’t do at home:

About 10 years ago, on a trip that took my family and I to New York, I got a caricature done on 42nd street. I was only 9 and the drawing was a beautiful setting of me in roller skates and pigtails tearing through Central Park. This time, mum encouraged me to sit on the Pont de l’Archevêché while Vallery, a lovely street artist stared intently to my eyes as he sketched my face. I didn’t really expect what happened next. Vallery had told us that he would give us a discount – my sitting for him would draw attention and ultimately, he’d probably end up with a few more patrons. I didn’t think anything of it, but about 15 minutes into sitting, a tour bus of Portuguese families disembarked and flocked to stand behind Vallery, watching as he detailed my eyes and my nose (he was kind and gave me a bit of a nose job, thanks Val) and my lips. This was a real life portrait and as I panicked about what people thought of my face and what Vallery was sketching, a little girl who couldn’t have been older than 7 waddled up to me and in broken English, managed the phrase, “you are beautiful” and then scurried back to her mum who smiled at me.

That’s it folks, affirmation from a 7 year old with a Dora the Explorer back pack is as good as it gets in this life.

Let the city shock you – this is a little story about an American tourist (from Texas no less) who stopped on the street to help mum and I with exchange rates.
At first, I clutched my bag a little closer and did the full up and down inspection of this random guy who just felt like helping some strangers on the Rue du Cloître Notre-Dame. Who was this guy? Full Texan drawl saying words like “would you like some help?” and “I’d be happy to translate” was something that I never expected to hear. After about 5 minutes of talking about Australian dollars and the rates of conversion we finally figured out what we needed and he simply said, “hope you enjoy the rest of your trip”.

Now please, dig a hole for your jaw to drop a little lower because it gets better.

A mere hour and a half ago as mum and I were running dangerously late for our flight (read: flight departure was in an hour at this point… 3 hours before departure for check in is for losers) the express train to Terminal 1 at Charles du Gaulle was equally as packed as it was for the lovely experience of being pressed up against an oily haired old man. Struggling this time with a suitcase, backpack, handbag and a print of a can can dancer we picked up for next to nothing on the banks of the Seine: it’s safe to say I was ready to just collapse into a heap.

Now girls, prepare yourselves for this next part:

As people continued to pack on to the train a lá sardine can, somebody lightly touched my shoulder and swivelling my head around as best I could, I realised that a young guy about my age with Clark Kent glasses and green eyes had gotten out of his seat and was motioning to sit down. I didn’t really believe that men that age did such things, especially with a group of about 4 guys with him but hey, I can admit when I’m wrong. He helped me lift my bag around people and just smiled as I sat down, then in a perfect British accent just said:

“Is that better?”

It was at this point that my heart fell out my butt and I’ve decided to move to London.

That’s all folks, next stop is Athens where more family awaits and I’ll finally be able to swear at people in their native language.

X

Chapter 2: London calling.

You know those expectations that you have about people or places that you really admire or want to visit and then if you ever meet that person or go to that place, you’re disappointed because the real thing couldn’t possibly live up to the hype?

That’s just not applicable when it comes to London.

I don’t think I had ever been to a place that I wholeheartedly fell in love with before I visited London and god two days was just not enough. That being said though, I feel that mum and I deserve a medal for the amount of stuff we crammed into 48 hours because by the time we left, it felt like we’d been away for a fortnight.

First, the tube is possibly the greatest thing that has ever happened to a poor student who can’t afford (read: is too afraid) to drive in London. Anyone who knows me well is aware of how much I hate Sydney trains, but I can do the tube. The tube understands me and I understand it. It knows that I will get on public transport with the hope that it will take me exactly where I need to go. It knows that when I haven’t had a cup of coffee, I don’t want anyone to talk to me or near me on public transport and dammit it knows that when it’s pissing down with rain, I am more than happy to commute in a network of former sewage tunnels rather than actually face the elements.
Just remember: walk with purpose.

Next we move on to the locals.

It’s true, Londoners can be pretty rude and unresponsive, but I’d be naive to think that that didn’t happen everywhere. True, they don’t talk to you and if you ask for help they usually pretend not to hear, but considering my previous experiences in France, it doesn’t actually bother me. For the most part, the Brits resemble Australians. Just better dressed, better spoken and with their noses turned up slightly. That’s okay though, because no matter what, I will always know that it was an American who handed our lovely and enthusiastic tour guide Gavin a book on bipolar disorder with the proviso that “it could do him some good”.

Something to be said however, I seem to have been mistaken for a Canadian on more than one occasion in London… Come on guys, I’m an Aussie. Eh?

After 20 years, a reunion between mum and a friend who travelled through Africa together is a friendship that I hope to find as I get older. It’s been this long and through the marvels of Facebook, two women who have a freakish amount of things in common were reunited amidst a collection of toilet jokes and some seriously impressive sarcasm. Livvy, I’m really glad you’re part of the family now, thanks for your welcome – I can’t wait to see you and Tash and Rue very soon!

In light of our next stop, it seems appropriate to note something very important about the French:
They are disapproving of the English language everywhere they go, even when they go to England.

I’m afraid I’m going to get a bit philosophical right now: I’m quite sure that the most important thing I learned in London is to face your fears. Usually, they’re a lot worse in your head than they are in real life. For example, I have a crippling fear of scary things happening in front of me. Please understand: I am completely fine (sort of) with horror movies – they can’t touch me, they can’t creep up behind me and depending on how loud the TV is, usually they don’t emit pants shitting blood curdling cries that are so loud you assume the fetal position. That is not the case when it comes to The Woman in Black, touted as the West End’s scariest production. After mum purchased said tickets to pants shitting performance*, it took a good 4 hours of mental preparation and reading spoilers on Wikipedia to actually face this play. The Fortune Theatre on Russell St at Covent Garden is a small intimate theatre, capable of filling up with fog that rises from the stage. Cue Woman in Black emitting blood curdling cries and you’ve got a recipe for me to need therapy for the rest of my life.

It’s okay though, I survived, the performance was incredible and I haven’t seen The Woman in Black emerge from any dark corners…

*its an expression for all of you who think it actually happened that way.

London has been incredible.

The shopping was great, the company was even better and now, on the Eurostar to Gare du Nord, I can’t wait to come back and maybe even stick around more permanently.

X

Chapter One: A bit of a bumpy start.

July 2-3, 2014

Important things learned:

1. Air hosts and hostesses go through a lot on a flight. 19 hours isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun day at work, so be nice to them, even when they’re a bit cranky.
2. If you miss your flight through no fault of your own, don’t panic, it’s just something to remember your trip by. Whining will only make you feel worse.
3. A hot shower will always be comforting – even when it’s 43 degrees outside.
4. Duty free shopping is always more important than eating breakfast.
5. McDonalds is the same everywhere you go. Except in the States.
6. MAC makeup is the same price every where you go. Except in the States.

************

Flying has always been something I love. It’s fantastic – 600 people floating through the air in a steel container with the sound of babies crying because of changing air pressure and food that makes you question how hungry you really are – what’s not to love?!

All sarcasm aside (I will do my best, I promise), I do love the adventure that’s associated with cruising over clouds and seeing a city appear beneath the plane. This trip however has gotten off to a less than happy start.

Diverted to Perth about 4 hours into our flight, a P.A. announcement calling for “any doctors nurses or paramedics on board to make themselves known to the cabin crew” isn’t the way I imagined this flight to go. Drifting somewhere between Pirates of the Caribbean on my TV and sleep, air hostesses shuffling to the upstairs First Class and Business Class cabins seemed to pique the interest of the people around me and suddenly, I was interested too.

With no ambulance on the Tarmac when we landed and a 3 hour stop in Perth, the words “suspected fatality” decided to add some further speculation. (Note: this is where lesson 1 comes in – yes, air hostesses can be crabby towards the end of the flight, but even if they are, don’t be like the people behind me, don’t be rude, those people have just had to deal with someone passing away on their shift. Having to deal with people wanting drinks and snacks and warm towelettes and yes I’m aware that they’re getting paid, but it still sucks. Don’t be shit.)

Chattering about what could have happened, groaning about increased flight times and a lot of people nervous as hell about missing connecting flights (hello, yes, that was me.), seemed to make the flight go on that little lot bit longer. With a steady 3G connection on the Tarmac at Perth airport, we knew we’d miss our flight and the next 9 hours, dotted with mystery meat and uncomfortable wiggling around in my seat, just counted down to either a long night sleeping in Dubai airport à la Tom Hanks or facing another 7 hours on a plane.

Not ideal.

We were given new boarding passes for our new connecting flight – all organised by the airline – and were put up in a hotel near the airport. After 19 hours in a bra, an overnight stay that causes one night less in London is not the most horrible thing in the world. Free of charge of course. (Thanks Emirates)

A shower, some serious snacking on bulk-bought Tim Tams and a good night’s sleep later, Dubai airport is the place to be right now.

Mum and I packed on to the courtesy bus, skipping breakfast in favour of some serious shopping to do (attn: lesson 4). The most beautifully shiny and expensive duty free shopping awaited, all just there, waiting to take our money and make us wonder how we spent money before even getting to our destination (alas the Marc Jacobs sunglasses were calling to me).
Now here I sit in the universal symbol of comfort food: McDonalds, writing this post and thinking of home.

X

18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With

Well number 15 is thoroughly terrifying.

Thought Catalog

Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]Celeste and Jesse Forever [Blu-ray]

1. The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested.

2. Because we want to show how cavalier and blasé we can be to the other person, little psychological games like ‘Intentionally Take Hours Or Days To Text Back’ will happen. They aren’t fun.

3. A person being carefree because they have zero interest in you looks exactly like a person being carefree because they think you’re amazing & are making a conscious effort to play it cool. Good luck deciphering between the two.

4. Making phone calls is a dying art. Chances are, most of your relationship’s communication will happen via text, which is the most detached, impersonal form of interaction. Get familiar with those emoticon options.

5. Set plans are dead. People have options and up-to-the-minute updates on their friends (or other potential romantic interests) whereabouts…

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The Power of Pamper

There is nothing sexy about being sick. Not that being sexy is a necessity… but something about a runny nose, blocked sinuses and an ab-workout-worthy cough, makes me acutely aware of the fact that being sick makes me descend into a black hole of self pity and frizzy hair. With the weather around me turning into a nightmarish experience of ‘four seasons in a day’, flu season is well and truly back, I want to remind people that it’s the little simple things that can make you feel better when you’re body’s working hard.

I realise that bed rest is absolutely essential when you get sick – your body is trying to fight a virus so you need to go easy on it. However! Along with all the orange juice (get that Vitamin C kids) and water and chicken soup and antibiotics or whatever your doctor recommends, making sure that you make yourself feel better speeds up the process.

About two weeks ago, when I came down with a bout of “acute upper respiratory infection” (super sexy), I felt somewhere between a leaky tap and a hermit; my skin was dull, my hair was a mess and I spent too much energy coughing to care. About a week into my illness though, I realised that it was being such a mess that was making things worse.

It’s no secret really, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but I think it’s something we forget, or something we tend to take too far. Either we can wallow in self pity about the fact we’re ill and sound like Janice from Friends (OH. MY. GOD.) or we take two Codral, put on a brave face and some strategically placed concealer and run out the door hoping that if we pretend we’re not sick, we won’t be.

Instead, wash your hair, paint your nails, put on a face mask, shave your legs (works a treat at helping you feel like you’re semi-back to normal), do something you love that makes you feel fresh, clean and happy.

Embrace the power of pamper people, and get well soon.

A.

 

I just wanted a trim!

It’s the phrase that haunts the conversation following a hairdresser’s appointment at least once in a person’s life…

“I told them to trim it and they chopped all of it off.”

I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong or that your complaints are unwarranted because sometimes, you just wind up with a hairdresser who’s really got no idea – we’ve all been there – you say this much and the next thing you know, they’ve taken off THIS MUCH – it’s a nightmare, and while I’m a firm believer in the fact that usually, it’s because you’re not going to the right hairdresser, there are a few things I’ve observed over the years that have led to much MUCH more successful haircuts.

1. Be clear.

Let me be perfectly clear. Saying to your hairdresser “I want it around this length with a little bit of this done and maybe some colour” is NOT being clear. After finally discovering a hairdresser that I truly love, it’s become easier for me to communicate with (let’s call her B) about exactly what I want.

Ta-da!

Prior to B, I was going to a hairdresser who liked to think she always knew best (read: I never got a hair cut or style exactly the way I wanted), until, one day – the night of my Year 12 formal to be exact), I went into the salon armed with a photo of Eva Longoria’s perfectly coiffed curls and said “this. please and thank you.”

As you can see, she came pretty darn close, and for the first time, I realised that while a good hairdresser should definitely consider what the client wants, they can’t exactly read your mind. When you want choppy layers cut, take a photo of a celebrity with a similar hairstyle to the one you want – give the hairdresser a visual to go off and I would bet that you’ll get more successful results than if you’re sitting in the chair trying to explain medium choppy flicked things that could give your hair volume.

Also: PSA – ringlets and waves are two variations of curls.

Ladies – understand what you’re asking for and I guarantee you’ll get a better outcome.

2. Be realistic.

While our favourite celebrities might have teams of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists at their beck and call, we regular folk unfortunately do not (and if you do, help a sister out – can I borrow them?). With this in mind, my previous point is accompanied by an asterisk…

When you’re sitting in the salon chair, armed with your photo of what your locks will look like when the cape comes off, remember that a lot of the really fantastic hairstyles require some hefty upkeep.

After reaching 18 and still having done nothing particularly adventurous with my hair, I thought that balayage was the way to go for me – a little change up with out being too wild and crazy… until I started searching Pinterest for potential looks and stumbled upon this…

it’s just… so… beautiful…

Now, personally, I would’ve been over the moon if I could’ve walked out of B’s with my hair looking like this, however upon further calm and rational discussion, it turned out that my hair was a little too dark to achieve the colour at the ends on my first treatment, unless I was willing to use bleach (big no-no for me). So, we compromised, B instead used a toner and my hair turned up a couple of shades lighter and the completed product turned out better than I expected!

The realistic expectations that you have going into the hairdresser should be more about the follow up of the hair style, rather than the immediate result – for years I’ve been set on and then subsequently talked out of a blunt front fringe not only because of my face shape and what it could do to my forehead (*breakout alert*) but also because of the maintenance. I am pretty diligent with my hair care – conditioners, heat protectors, oils, etc. but the idea of having to straighten my fringe every. single. morning. just wasn’t something I was up for.

Make sure you think about your hair style in terms of what you’ll do with it once you have to wash and style it.

The last point I’ll make here is that your hairdresser probably knows better than you when you need to take length off to restore your hair back to health. If you’re dealing with some seriously scary split-ends and what you want to cut off doesn’t quite cover the damage, chances are, your hairdresser will either a) go ahead and cut it or (and we hope for this one) b) tell you that you need to take length off and explain that split ends usually make hair look unhealthy.

3. Be brave.

If you really want to do something with your hair – dye it a completely different colour, chop it all off etc. be brave!

A hairdresser will usually refuse because it’s just too much pressure if you don’t like it, but if you’re like my mum, who has insisted that B dye mum’s hair red, they’ll cave eventually and do what you want.

If you’re too nervous about doing something radical remember one very important thing that is true for most people:

Hair grows back.

The last thing I want you to be brave about is changing your hairdresser if it’s not working. Having a good hairdresser is like being in a good relationship, if the give and take isn’t there, then why stick around? Good communication, healthy mutual respect and trust is what you need here, and if you aren’t getting what you want from the relationship for any number of reasons, then break up, I promise there’s someone better for you out there.

That’s about all the wisdom I can pass on to you for now, if there’s anything you do to make sure your hairdresser experience is top notch, let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear how you handle it!

A xx

The year that was.

I should preempt this post by saying that I’m not actually a huge believer in New Years being a turning point, I believe that change that comes on any day of the year is as significant as deciding that January 1st is the “first day of the new you”. Use it as a convenient marker for new things to come into fruition (and to throw one hell of a party), however don’t give yourself the excuse that you have to wait for it to come around once every 365 (or 366) days.

(See you all next year) 

Considering I was late to pretty much everything I took part in this year, from parties to lectures to dinners to super important family gatherings that I really should have been on time to, I thought it only fitting that the first post on this new blog should be written at 1am on the last day of 2013.

This year, I have laughed and cried, become an adult, lost friends, gained friends, simply drifted from friends, conquered my first year of university, tried, failed, succeeded and I think I even fell in love (even if it was just with shoes).

While in retrospect this year has been one of the toughest of my life, when asked by my mum last night at the dinner table how I think 2013 has been for me, I realised that it’s also been one of the best. This year, I have unabashedly pursued interests, improved my skills doing things I love and I have stopped apologising for the things that I love in my life. Among the experiences I listed above, this year has taught me, more than anything else, that I can and will be any person I choose to be, regardless of the mistakes I have made in my past or what anyone thinks about or expects of me.

Being thrown into the deep end is something I’ve always preferred when it comes to new experiences, purely because I know that if I get a small taste of something I don’t like, I’m not likely to follow through with it (a pretty crappy trait if you ask me but hey, I’m working on it). That being said however, this year required one hell of a lot of treading water, and somehow, I didn’t drown. When I began university, I listened to too many other people about what to study, which classes to take, how much effort to put in, how many lectures to miss (the record for the year is still only about 4) and which parties to attend. While that all seems pretty harmless, I’ve realised in the last couple of weeks, that that is a lot of people to be listening to. I feel that a point of pride in 2013 was learning to drown out a lot of the voices (some of them do come in handy, I’ll admit) and listen to myself, trusting in my own instinct for the first time in a very long time.

Along with both triumphing at uni and falling spectacularly to pieces because of uni, the greatest impact on me this year, has come from the people I have met and the friends who’ve stuck by me. Fronting up to classes without knowing anyone in them was perhaps one of the scariest experiences of my life. Though I had a best friend by my side for some of the lectures, the idea of sitting in a classroom for an hour with a bunch of complete strangers was something that I never realised I would come to love so much. The colourful and beautiful personalities of the people who I have met at university, whether in my tutorials or by tagging along to a Law Ball for the open bar, have opened my eyes to the world as I don’t think I’d ever seen it before. In high school, it felt easy and safe to know the same people (many of whom are still very important to me) and do the same things for a good 6 years. At uni, it finally feels as if something truly worthwhile is happening. I am in a place where I know I can succeed, I am surrounded by people (both new and old) who I feel truly know me and accept me just the way I am and I am a person who has become stronger than her fear (mostly).

As I have realised that what I think and feel is controlled only by me, I’ve also realised and come to appreciate the value of true friends. I am privileged to have so many people in my life who I love and trust, and while 2013 has been difficult in some respects, the people who I have spent it with have made it a year that I will remember forever. I learned that the hardest lessons and the harshest words come from the people who mean the most, because it’s them who know you best. I learned that when someone means something to you, you always, always, think about them before yourself and most importantly that trust is the singularly most important thing you can share with a person. This year marked a turning point in realising that friends exist as a reminder to achieve your best and also to pull you back down to Earth when you’re being a lunatic. Fitting in was something that really struck me as the main point of university – you go to parties, you skip lectures, you do what everyone else is doing, that kind of thing.

Oh how wrong I was.

Nothing about it requires uniformity, and nothing about it says that you should be anything but yourself (what a weird concept right!?). That was a pretty difficult idea for me to grasp but thanks to the support of the right people, the realisation that I can do anything and everything I put my effort in to and just the right amount of naivety, it’s started to sink in.

I suppose where all of this is leading is that my bubble, has, for the most part, been a very comfortable place for me in the last few years (apologies for the following cheesiness, I really did try to avoid it, but alas here we are…). To those who know me: while I don’t deny that my personality can, at times, skew a little larger than life, I have kept myself distant from a great deal of people, experiences and opportunities for fear of losing some imaginary piece of myself. I do realise that may sound silly to some, but to me, existing has been the extent of my life experience. If you can learn anything from my 2013, it’s that as you live each day of 2014, please make sure that you really do live. 

I wish you all the best for 2014, I truly hope it’s the year that you shine.