Ten years ago today, I was preparing to graduate from high school. Everyone seemed to have their next steps mapped out except for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go to college. I was pretty terrified actually. I felt like a disappointment compared to my friends who had loads of options before them, because unlike me they were actually successful in preparing a post high school plan. But I was only 16! I couldn’t drive and could barely cook a meal more complicated than spaghetti bolognese, and yet I was expected to make massive decisions that would literally determine the course that my life would take?
Five years ago today, I was probably on a bus headed to the apartment that I shared with four others girls. I’d probably hang outside waiting for the lights to go off before I went in because I didn’t want to endure any more passive aggressive bullying. I wouldn’t have known it at the time, but this was the beginning of a downward spiral in my life. In a few months time, I’d be unemployed, homeless, and suicidal with no idea how to improve my situation. Yet again, I would feel like a failure compared to those around me, though, I’d lose many friends during this period so there were very few around me in fact.
One year ago today, I was probably jet lagged on a couch putting off unpacking my suitcases while my life sat in limbo as my partner and I desperately tried to throw together a wedding. I was terrified something would go wrong. Whether it would be the British government saying we couldn’t get married, or I couldn’t stay in the country once we were already married, I didn’t know, but I was positive something would go wrong. I can be a bit of a pessimist at times. Life felt like a bit of a whirlwind and totally different from any remote vision I’d had for how it would go. I wasn’t coping with my anxiety well, to the point where I had panic attacks in public when I had to use public transport by myself. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever assimilate, nor if life in this new place would ever feel normal. I just tried to remain focused on the advice of those close to me: 'You have to give it time and see where things go'.
Today, I’m sitting in a hotel room suite in Essex listening to Fast Car by Jonas Blue as I write this column. I had to take two buses, two trains, and a tube to get here. I’ve made peace with my travel-based anxiety for the most part. I’m staying here overnight in preparation for an Account Managers’ Meeting at Benefit Cosmetics Head Office tomorrow. I have a great job, that I love and that pays me better than I ever thought I’d earn at 26 years old. A far cry from my days of being homeless and unemployed. I’m even a homeowner! Life is comfortable, but not easy by any means. There are still ups and down mentally which is to be expected, but sitting here writing this I can’t help but reflect on where I’ve been and where I am, and think about how good life is right now. I’ve persevered through some excruciating circumstances and never gave up no matter how dire things became, even though I wanted to give up time and time again.
Life is going to throw curveballs some times, and pushing through can feel like the most impossible task. I can’t stress how important it is to keep going, because you never know what experiences will be waiting for you on the other side.