“Don’t depend on other people’s approval when it comes to following your dreams. The more you seek out approval and validation, the more you will absolutely depend on it. The less you seek it out, the happier and more free you will be and feel.” -some random website I found
Most people know this about me but for those who don’t, I’m usually very strong-willed and know who I am. I know what my morals and values are, and I express them in the way that I live my life. It doesn’t matter how many jokes are made about me needing to have more fun, or needing to let loose and live a little – I’m never bothered by it. I know that there are people who appreciate me for me, and that’s all that matters. And I really am thankful that I have such a strong support system, with multiple people who will remind me of what makes me the person that I am. People who have known me for 15+ years, people who I’ve known for less than 10 years, and even people who have met me this past year. It’s those people who I know are the ones worth keeping around, because they see me for who I am, and I see the same about them. We chose each other, as cheesy as that may sound.
My entire life, I’ve never felt the pressure to conform to something just because everyone else was doing it. I didn’t have my first drink until I was of legal drinking age and even once I was legal, I never saw the point of getting completely drunk (okay.. that changed during my crazy phase in London but even then, MY reason for getting drunk was so that I could dance…). I’ve never seen the point of dating just for the sake of dating. I only pursue something if I see it actually going somewhere, and even then I chicken out because I’ve been so used to only thinking about me for the past 28 years and making myself happy by doing what I want when I want. I’m old-fashioned. I like the idea of getting to know someone before doing anything further. I remember awkwardly sitting at friends’ parties – being one of the only sober ones, and refusing to participate in any ‘spin the bottle’ or ‘7 minutes in heaven’ games. My first kiss wasn’t until I was 20 and it was with someone who I actually liked, and wasn’t someone I was told to kiss by a bottle. Just because everyone else was in relationships didn’t mean I had to be. I’ve always been the 3rd/5th/7th/9th wheel, and haven’t had much of a problem with it. I can’t explain WHY I am the way I am – it’s not like anyone told me to think or act this way. Heck, my mom would try to encourage me to drink at parties and I’m sure she questioned why I only went to look after my friends. I AM proud of it though. I’m proud that I’ve always known what’s been important to me and I’ve never swayed because someone told me to. I see so many people who are STILL upset with themselves because they feel like they don’t fit in or they’re not good enough, and I know that it’s because they’re looking to others for acceptance. Or because they think people like them more when they’re drunk. Once you realize that acceptance comes from within, everything changes. You really begin to live and enjoy your life. And maybe that’s what scares me so much about being in a relationship is that I’m forced to also find that acceptance elsewhere, which brings out my insecurities in full force. Everyone has those insecurities. Everyone can seem like they have a great life, that they’re put together, that they’re invincible and nothing can break them, but I find that as soon as I’m interested in someone, I start to convince myself every reason why I’m not good enough when I should know full well that of course I’m good enough. However, for some reason, it always takes my friends to remind me of that.
The thing is, during this past week, I’ve really started to question who I am more than I ever have in a long time. I actually felt like I was back in high school again. When I got to Byron Bay, they had put me in a room with a bunch of girls who were living and working there so most had been there for 1-3 months. I don’t know why but during my first couple of nights there, I felt really uncomfortable. Everyone there only seemed to be interested in partying and hooking up with people, and I sat there and realized how out of place I felt, and questioned if maybe I was getting too old to stay in hostels. I really just wanted to go back home to Melbourne. I’ve went out partying while travelling very rarely because a) Drinking is expensive and when I travel, I’d rather spend my money on food than drinks (no surprise there…), b) I prefer to get up earlier and have the whole day to explore rather than have a late night and sleep half of the next day AND feel like crap, and c) I can drink at home with people who I trust and who I WANT to go out and have fun with. Then thank goodness, on my third night, two girls showed up (Meghan and Amelia) and I instantly knew that they were my kind of people. Luckily, they asked me to spend the next two days with them, and we clicked right away!
I often find myself needing to explain why I do certain things. Why aren’t I drinking? Why aren’t I going out? Why do I live my life the way I do? And I wonder if it’s because those people still haven’t found fulfillment in their own lives. Maybe they’re still trying to find happiness with drugs or alcohol, partying, spending money, sex and relationships, or whatever else. I think that once you fall in love with life, you don’t need anyone’s approval anymore. You don’t feel the need to explain why you do certain things. You start to enjoy all the little things and stop taking everything for granted. You don’t need to try to find happiness by partying or doing drugs. When I was in Byron Bay with Meghan and Amelia we were (in my opinion) lucky enough to see and hear a thunderstorm. We were caught right in the middle of it. I swear that every time I saw a lightning strike or heard a thunder clap, I got excited all over again (Meghan and Amelia can confirm this). The reason for this is because even though it constantly rains in both London and Melbourne, I don’t ever remember hearing a thunderstorm. And I love thunderstorms – they remind me of my childhood! Back when I was under the age of 10, in our old house, I remember that every time there was a thunderstorm, my entire family would sit outside on the front porch and we’d eat sunflower seeds and just watch the rain. We’d just sit there and enjoy – no electronics, no TV – just listen to the rain and the thunder. When the storm had finished, my sister and I would take all of our sunflower shells and we’d go down to the street and put all of our sunflower “boats” into the water. We’d watch them float down the street and follow them until they fell down the grates. This is a memory that sticks with me every time I hear a thunderstorm, and which is why it always brings me such joy. This is only one of the numerous things that I find fulfilment in. I also find fulfilment in going for random walks and finding new scenery or new buildings. Or completing a crossword puzzle. Or sitting in a park for hours and just watching people go by. Having deep and meaningful conversations with a friend or even a stranger. Life doesn’t have to be complicated. And everyone finds fulfilment in different things. I’ve never gotten a manicure or a pedicure, or went to the spa. I’ve never gotten a massage. I’ve never gotten my eyelashes done or dyed my hair. But some of those things work for other people.
There are some people that will just get you and some that will never understand, and that’s okay. The thing I love most about my friends is we can go weeks or months without talking and one day, I can just be like, “I need to talk” and they’ll always be there to listen to what I have to say. And they say the most heartwarming things – Just a few days ago, I’ve had a friend say, “You’re so amazing. Because you have this wonderful drive to be someplace other than home. Some people can’t leave home. You make home wherever you are. I see this wonderful woman who travels to destinations… she has the balls to go distances most people only dream about.” Another one said, “You are just living the dream, travelling and doing whatever you want, not having to answer to anyone, and I admire that of you.” Honestly, I feel like I’m just living my life, and I forget that maybe I’m inspiring a few people at the same time. It’s such a humbling feeling. I’ve lived so much of my life that I’ve learned to hold on to the people that I vibe with, and to not force anything with the people who don’t appreciate my sparkle. And if someone’s questioning or putting you down for the way you live you life, then they probably don’t deserve to be a part of it. I always thought I was just shy my entire life, but I’ve actually now realized that maybe it’s just about being around the right kinds of people. Sometimes I can be loud, excited, and super energetic after meeting certain people for only an hour, and I feed off of their energy as an extroverted person would do. I’ve read that introverts are born to connect more deeply with others, and in my case, I can agree with that 100%. I hate small-talk. If someone doesn’t open up and want to have a meaningful conversation, I lose interest. This is probably why I don’t feel the need to go out and party with a bunch of strangers. The point is that everyone is different, everyone is fulfilled by different things. You don’t have to understand everyone, and they don’t have to understand you. But as long as you stay true to who you are, you can’t let anyone take away your sparkle. So keep shining – the right people will notice!
Thin Air – Colouring