We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. -Lynn Hall
When you are through changing, you are through. -Bruce Barton
Life changes and we change with it; that’s just how it goes. The weird thing about it is that we can only see how we’ve changed in retrospect. I have been thinking a bit about how I’ve changed since I moved from New Zealand to London in 2008. The experience of moving overseas and travelling has inevitably changed me in a unique way. If I had stayed at home, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I have also changed in age just like everyone else, yet so much can change in those ‘development years’ of 18-21. In some ways I don’t recognise the girl that landed in London almost three years ago, yet in other ways we are still the same person and always will be.
So, who was I then? People have asked me how I moved to London alone at such a young age, with no friends or family living here. To be honest, I don’t know how I did it because I feel more vulnerable now than I did then. I was naturally apprehensive with questions constantly swimming around in my head; what’s it going to be like? Who am I going to meet? Will I be homesick? The concerns of homesickness were very applicable because of the distance between London to New Zealand, and I had only booked a one-way ticket. But I put my head down and didn’t let my fear stop me; I knew it was the right thing to do and that I would be okay. It’s like I had put my running shoes on the day that I decided to go to London. By the time it was time to leave 6 months later, I was ready to run from everything I knew and into the unknown. I was ready to grow up as my own person with nothing to hold me back.
Sadly I was so eager, almost too eager, to grow up. I wanted to leave behind my complicated childhood to a life that I could create myself, without any unwanted additions. It was my dream; to pick and choose who I had in my life and what I did everyday. I was craving independence and a fresh start. I also desperately wanted to be taken seriously; I thought I could do anything and wanted everyone to see through my fun and ditzy persona. Underneath my social façade there was a deep and intense girl. I had flown (quite literally) the nest and was ready to take over the world.
What I didn’t see then, because I lacked the humility and maturity, was that I had so much to learn. If you had given me the world I would have tried my best, but crushed it like a delicate flower in my hand. I was not ready for anything but I thought I was ready for everything. Thanks to some incredible people that I’ve met along the way, I’ve learnt a lot. On the first day of my first job in London, I called my boss ‘dude’ because I didn’t know how to address her. Uh, maybe by her name?! Cringe. However, thankfully, she doesn’t remember this happening and laughed her head off when I recently recounted the horrid memory to her.
My life has changed incredibly since I moved to London. Friends have come and gone, there have been romances, hurts, travels, lessons, trials, amazing ups and very low downs. My whole life I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, even as a kid on the playground I would do whatever it took to hold on to a friend. A few weeks after I finally put my heart in its rightful place as a woman, I met my amazing boyfriend. Life’s funny like that.
So far, there is not one thing I can pinpoint as ‘the reason’ for my moving overseas. I always thought there would be, ‘Ah-ha! That’s why I came here, it all makes sense now’. Now I can see that there are many reasons; I had an incredible job where I learnt a lot that will be the foundation to the rest of my career; I’ve found love, which has softened my heart; I’ve travelled, which is something that cannot be described, only experienced. But more than anything, I’ve grown up, pure and simple. I think that’s why I came to London and the rest is just what’s happened along the way! I am so thankful and consider myself incredibly blessed. And it’s not over yet, I’m still here.
Who am I now? I am more vulnerable because someone has cared enough to teach me how. I am happier because my expectations are realistic. I am more secure because I know that I am loved. I am more confident because I know what my strengths are. I am more mature because I have learnt from my mistakes. I am less hyperactive because I no longer feel the need to seek attention. But while being all of the above, I am also still me. I am still a chatterbox, have bad punctuality and bad financial management, and still struggle with anxiety. Hey, life’s a journey… Hopefully on our death bed’s we’ll all be perfect!
If you gave the world to me now, I would give it back to you. Because even though I have three years more life experience, I know that I can’t take over the world. I know that all I can do is today, and do it well. Each day contributes to the next, and we can only take one at a time.