Already 2020 is well on the way and I can’t believe how quickly it is going already. Unfortunately, I have not been as fired up and full of energy as I hoped for the new year. So this blog post is running a lot later than I had hoped. I wrote the majority of this post on the aeroplane flying to New York City on the 29th December. As we move into a new year and a new decade here are my 2019 Reflections.
So much has happened this year I’m going have to do my end of a decade post separately. I think reflecting on how far you have come is so important for preparing for the year ahead. This post is a summary of my 2019, my reflection on what I have achieved this year.
Start on a High
In 2018 I had a big low. My long term relationship ended and I was devastated. But by the time Christmas came around I was in a “f*** it, I’m going to be spontaneous” kind of mood. On my last day of work at our staff leaving drinks at the pub I asked my manager if he would mind me moving to Spain for a bit. It was something I had thought about before but not really seriously. I bought it up on a whim and he said I don’t see why not. That Christmas I began planning for my move to Spain and by the 16th January, I was off.
I was heading to Javea, between Alicante and Valencia. It’s where my colleagues from the web department lived. I had arranged to stay with a lady in her spare room for the full 3 months. Normally I’m nervous when I fly but this year it was like a switched had flicked. I wasn’t nervous to leave home and I was fine with flying on my own.
3 Months in Spain
What followed was an amazing 3 months I will never forget. I loved being by the sea. Running along the coast to the port. I learned a lot about myself. Personal development became something I was aware of as I delved deeper to try and discover my purpose. I was not completely happy with my job before I left. And part of my reason for moving was to step away from my life and try and figure out my why, what I was meant to do.
My creativity was reignited and a new passion for content creation, in particular, video content, was found. I really enjoyed spending hours on the beach filming myself talking to the camera. Having never been sure what I wanted to do in life I now knew I wanted to do it freelance. I wanted to make sure I could take my job with me on my travels again. If nothing else this would be my main focus for the year to create a location free job.
As the 3 months drew to a close I became very aware that had not happened for me yet and I panicked about coming home. I wasn’t ready to go back to the office, back to my old life and for it to feel like Spain had never happened. So I booked an appointment with STA travel for the day after I landed in the UK.
My last week in Spain I travelled to Valencia with my colleague and now lovely friend Deborah and her daughter. We said our goodbyes and I continued to Barcelona on my own. I met my parents outside our Air BnB and we spent the week exploring the city in the rain.
My Next Adventure
My STA appointment resulted in me booking a 1-way ticket to Australia, a working holiday visa and an 18 G Adventures tour. I only had a month before I left so I returned to the office to earn my last bit of money for my travels.
On the 10th of June, I set off for Kuala Lumpur. An emotional goodbye at the airport followed by a very long solo flight and I arrived to be greeted by my lovely friend Becca. I had done it travelled the furthest I had ever been before on my own, and I still had another stretch to go.
I struggled with jet lag for the whole of the 5 days I was in KL it was a shame because it seemed like a beautiful place and there was a lot I could have done. Trying more of the food for one. But the jet lag not only made me tired but hit my confidence a bit and I became a recluse hiding in Becca’s apartment. One night we did make it out on the town. We went into the city to a rooftop helicopter pad bar for drinks and to watch the sunset, then onto dinner and to see the Petronas Towers.
It seemed to come around so quickly my flight to Australia. A little nervous after feeling down from jet lag I arrived in Sydney. After very little sleep, food and a spell of upset stomach I met my roommates for the night who were half the girls from my group tour. The whole group gathered in the evening for a free meal and a get to know you. I managed to get a good night sleep that night and woke the next day feeling so much better. The jet lag was finally out of my system.
The Time of My Life
Next up was 18 days of adventure. So many new experiences, stunning views and laughs with new friends. We had surf lessons, saw whales on a sea kayak trip, snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, sailed around the Whitsundays watched the sunrise and set in some of the most beautiful places. I had the best time!
I made plans with one of my new friends to travel back down the east coast to Brisbane with some stops along the way. A river croc cruise in Cape Tribulation and then renting barbie cars to tour Magnetic Island. I had filmed so much of my travels so far doing a little video diary so I would have as much to look back on as possible. I edited together a video of the whole trip for myself and my new friends to enjoy.
The Job Hunt Began
Back in Brisbane, the job hunt began. I applied for all kinds of jobs and had interviews for some that turned out not to be a good fit. After a month of searching, I decided to move on and continued my journey south. I was glad I had stayed in Brisbane as long as I did as I had met some really lovely people, made friends I hope to stay in touch with for years to come.
I arrived on the Gold Coast at the wrong time of the month and everything seemed to piss me off. This experience taught me to understand my body better and to take it easy on myself and with decision making at certain times of the month.
I gave up on the Gold Coast after two weeks and moved to Byron Bay. The best decision I could have made. I met the loveliest people as soon as I arrived, did the lighthouse walk to watch the sunset, went on a day trip with them to Nimbin. I climbed the hill to the lighthouse one morning to see dolphins playing in the waves and I went whale watching. Seeing those dolphins was the most magical moment of my life so far. Just thinking about it now I feel tears welling up. It was beautiful. I had definitely found my happy place.
While I was having the best time and my confidence was at a high again I booked in for a skydive. I had tried before on my 18-day tour and it had been cancelled. Without the momentum and motivation of the group, I was worried I wouldn’t have the balls to do it, but in Byron the timing was perfect. I had decided this was going to be a life-defining moment for me. I knew if I managed this I would never need to feel nervous again.
Skydiving in Byron Bay
So I jumped out of a plane. I was a little nervous waiting for the bus but nothing compared to how I have felt for lesser things. I was even fine going up in the plane. There is a small period of time that I cannot remember, from seeing the person in front of me leaving the plane to me then falling from the sky. It was the strangest feeling falling from the sky. I loved it and hated it at the same time. The views were stunning but the spinning as we spiralled to the ground was sickening. When I landed I was proud but felt very sick. I just about managed to make it back to the hostel to sleep off the feeling.
I now feel unstoppable and ready to tackle almost anything.
On the Move Again
After Byron Bay, I flew to Melbourne with new friends. I didn’t love Melbourne but I did a lot of exploring and a hell of a lot of walking. Having had some bad hostel experiences and feeling no love for the place I decided I wanted to move.
Sydney was my next stop for a full-on job hunt. By this point I was tired. I had been applying for jobs the entire time since arriving in Brisbane and having no luck. It had got to the point where I had considered going home several times but something kept me there for just a bit longer.
I had withdrawn some money from my savings when I was on the Gold Coast as I was running low and when I got to Sydney I was running very low. I managed to find a job but nowhere to live and the job was a 0-hour contract. Hostels in Sydney are very expensive so staying in a hostel and working would have been just as bad so I planned my final move.
This time I was off to Brisbane again. I had loved my month in Brisbane before. It had really felt like home and I missed it. Every move I had made since leaving I had compared the feeling I got to Brisbane and nothing compared. I had found a Workaway position, free accommodation in exchange for help with the ladies website.
Living as a Workaway
I spent a month on the outskirts of Brisbane, living with Fiona and her two boys. I loved being a part of a family again and working on websites again. Fiona was a coach and some session with her really helped me gain more clarity on my next steps and helped me to understand myself better. I gained my first clients as a freelancer and I made the decision to fly home.
For almost 6 months I had been travelling and I felt like it was the right time. I spent my last week in the city, back in the hostel I had lived in during the winter but it was now 30+ degrees and heading into summer. I loved it I met more amazing people, ate so much food and really enjoyed my last week.
On the 2 December, I spent the day in the city drinking cider and enjoying the last of what Australia had to offer before boarding my flight from Brisbane to Dubai. Having done many flights on my own now I had no nerves only excitement.
I was a little emotional with the thought of seeing my family again. Then I fell asleep for the 14-hour flight. After a short stopover and an 8-hour flight to Gatwick, I was greeted by my family at the airport. I thought it would feel weird but I felt so normal to be home.
Christmas & New Year
The days that followed involved unpacking, job hunting and seeing family and friends. I got a Christmas temp job in retail and was able to spend Christmas Day with my family. It was so special. I managed to capture a lot of it to look back on one day when my older relatives are no longer around.
And here we are. I am writing the bulk of this post sat in upper class on a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York where I will be for the day before heading home for the new year.
2019 has been the most amazing year, full of adventure, new friends and self-discovery. Stepping way outside of my comfort zone and doing things 20-year-old Steph never would have done. I am beyond proud of everything I have achieved this year and the person I have become. There have been incredible highs and some lows whilst travelling solo, but I have no regrets (apart from the 4th course I ordered at a food market in Brisbane) from this year.
Everything that might be considered as a mistake or that others might have done differently has lead me down a positive path in the end. If I hadn’t have stayed in Brisbane so long I never would have met my new friend Lise. Had I had taken a commission-only sales job in Brisbane I never would have had the time of my life with the right people in Byron Bay. If I had taken the job in Sydney I would have never met Fiona and learned so much about myself and kickstarted my freelance career.
I have learned that there is no right way to do things. No correct order and no boxes to tick for life. Even though I had I all planned out and thought I knew exactly what I wanted, I changed my mind. I realised that that is ok. It’s ok to change your mind about what you want. Your life experience will change you and your outlook. I feel so free knowing that my life could go in any direction I am no longer tied to the plan I had for myself 2 years ago. It’s a little scary but having pushed myself out of my comfort zone a lot this year, I know the joy that sits on the other side of my comfort zone.
2020 is going to be an exciting year. I will continue towards my goal of a location free career. Although long term travel is not for me. I know I want to option to choose where and how I make my money and not be tied to anything. So now it’s time to set some goals going into the new year and into a new decade. A lot of people are putting the pressure on with this whole new year new decade thing. You must make sure you have it figured out or have your shit together for 2020. Well I don’t have it figured out and I certainly don’t have my shit together but I am excited for my next chapter to begin and it all starts in just a few days.
EDIT: It all started about a week ago, but so far I have not yet taken action. I think that is ok too. You don’t have to wait for a new year, a new decade or even a new month to make changes and take action. Change can be made at any time. So I write this edit on a random Friday night in January, finally taking action on finishing this post and attempting to get back into the swing of content creation.
Have you been reflecting on your 2019 and what you want 2020 to look like for you? If not it’s not too late to start now. Let me know what you are proud of from last year and what you hope to achieve this year in the comments below.