Looking back on 2019

As with every New Year, my social media feed (and yours too, I imagine) is filled with the triumphs and tribulations of my friends and family as they reflect on the year passed.

Everyone’s highlights of the year are pretty much always about three things: cherished moments with loved ones, adventures, and the challenges that matured us. As I scrolled through the thoughtful, heartwarming posts, I wondered how much life is experienced in a single year. We all go through difficulties and pain, despite our happy timelines on Facebook and Instagram. It’s only when the year ends that the truth comes out and we remember that life is always a series of ups and downs. It reminds me of the song Seasons of Love’ from the musical RENT. “How do you measure, Measure a year? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee?”  It’s always about some form of love.

I wanted to join in on the self-reflection and share my top nine pics but I was busy being on holiday in France, eating way too much cheese for my own good and being absolutely mesmerised by the walking museum that is Paris. It also felt like 2019 was a weird year that was a bit hard to sum up.

Compared to other years before, 2019 wasn’t really that exciting. The two words that come to mind when I reflect back are: responsible and decisive. My biggest priority was to get my drivers license. This was huge for me because I have a severe phobia of driving. In order to overcome my fear and pass the test I needed the help of a professional driver. Saturday mornings and Friday nights were spent driving around Sydney with a big LEARNERS sign on top of the car until I was comfortable enough to take the test. In July, just before my birthday, I passed the test. It felt like the biggest step into adulthood. Even though I can legally drive, my fear of driving is still something I need to work on.

The other big thing that happened this year is that I applied to study Transpersonal Art Therapy. I’d been searching frantically to study something in counseling or psychology but every program I found was either unaffordable (who can afford 50k for a two year full-time program?!) or was not open to international students. I drove myself, and Mat, a bit crazy trying to find something because I knew I was on the wrong career trajectory. I’m the stereotypical Millennial who just wants a job that I love where I feel like I’m making a genuine impact. I cannot imagine spending 40 hours of my precious life in some stingy office doing work that I absolutely hate. That’s no way to spend a life.

2019 wrap-up | Life After Elizabeth
Boat parties that ended up in the hospital, foraging for our own food, getting my drivers license, studying Art Therapy, weekend trips with friends, going to Canada, moving to our amazing apartment, quitting my job, travelling in Europe.

So, long story short, I found a course in counselling at a college not far from my home. The course was only a year and was significantly cheaper than all the rest. I went in for an info session and was first taken through an Art Therapy exercise. The exercise was so profound that three months later I decided to study Art Therapy instead. I asked my boss if I could work four days a week, instead of five to accommodate my new schedule. She agreed so long as I completed my 40 hours in four days.

It was exhausting and challenging to study and work full-time. By the end of November I burnt out. It literally felt like the fire inside of me was being suffocated. I remember struggling through a Monday, barely awake, and coming home to collapse into bed from severe exhaustion. As much as I wanted to do everything, I realised it was not possible. So, I resigned my job and my last day of work was on December 17th, 2019. It felt like I was being released from my own sort of mental prison.

It was not the most conservative decision to quit a job without a back-up, and with our wedding in Canada coming up. Perhaps I could have stuck it out a bit longer, dragging myself through and arrive at my wedding day empty and exhausted. Maybe I could have done it, and the extra money saved would have been worth it. Admittedly this thought is still plaguing my mind.

On the other hand, I believe that in order to grow and find new opportunities we must firmly shut the door behind us. Otherwise if we stand between the two, humming and hawing about what to do, the years go by and we become complacent. It’s scary, yes. That’s part of getting outside of your comfort zone though. I am anxious about how I will find my way because I don’t know what way it will be, or how it will look. Fear is always the biggest obstacle to anything in life. It holds us back from living a bold, full life. The ‘what if’s’ can eat you alive and keep you in comfortable misery.

But I didn’t move to Australia to be comfortably miserable. I moved here for adventure; to grow and expand and go as far as I know I can. 2020 starts with a rush of adrenaline as I leap into the unknown.

Cheers to embracing uncertainties and learning time and time again to enjoy the ride.

“Leap and the net will appear.”

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