2019: The Year of Not Staying Put

2019 was a blur like no other. 

For the sake of total transparency, I feel like 12 months have passed and I have no sense of accomplishment from the last 365 days.

It's a weird feeling, because I'm not sure what I was 'meant' to achieve when I set out at midnight on Jan 1st 2019, ready to take on the new year. 

Maybe part of my problem is this need to feel fulfilled by the year, I'm not sure when that started, because surely I haven't always felt like this? I bypassed each school year in the same uninformed way, the only change being my increasing infatuation with boys and my decreasing interest in actual school work. 

Life wasn't measured by some unmentioned need to have an emotional or physical breakthrough. But here I am at 24, measuring the success of 2019 on just that.

The reality is, not every year is going to be self-defining. So the mindset of feeling deflated by a lack of 'WOW' is definitely something I want to change in 2020. Because really, I did have successes in 2019, they were just different, they presented themselves in different ways. 

AKA, I need to get a grip. 


What did happen in 2019? 

Well, I started the year in Dorset. The same place I had started every New Year since moving there in 2006. I was dressed as a fortune teller and woke up with a pounding headache and glitter in places I didn't even know it could get. 

I had one mission in 2019. I was going to stay put. I had moved home and decided all I wanted to do was get rid of my university overdraft. I was going to get a 9-5 job and basically not move until I had saved enough money to fund more travels. 

What I didn't take into account is how much I actually struggle living at home. Not the 'living at home' bit, I think that's often a necessity for people in their twenties, and there's no judgement from me there.

But after six years of living independently and being a stone's throw from the centre of London, Milan and Syndey, I found myself being extremely unmotivated and unhappy in Dorset. I'd spent years building up my portfolio and striving to work in a sector I loved, but with such little industry in the area, I was working as an administrative assistant, desperate to take any job I could if it meant a source of income. 

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that job, and frankly, if I was in a different place in my life the flexibility of the role and being employed by the local council would have been a Godsend. 

But I basically spent the first four months of the year running away to London. I loved spending time with my family, but with my only chance to get away being the weekends, I saw them less and less.

So when I was offered my old job in France, I jumped at it. The role was an assistant manager on a campsite, earning the same amount of money as the admin position, but I was on my feet all day, I was living in France, the sun was shining and I was in my element. 

I had friends around me, I no longer felt lonely, and despite some serious lows, I realised I was an idiot for thinking I needed to stay in one place to feel fulfilled.

Since moving to Italy aged 18, I've constantly been told how brave I am for taking leaps and moving abroad, or how lucky I am. And whilst there is an element of privilege, the reality is I use any money I make to buy flights, I spend my life paycheque to paycheque, I don't have a drivers license because I'd rather put the £1000 it costs towards traveling, and the warm feeling most people get from stability and routine, does nothing for me. 

I finished my 5 months in France, and spent a week at home before heading to America for nearly 3 months. I lived with family I'd only met 3 times before, and I spent my days freelancing, blogging, writing and exploring my new temporary home. 

When I left France, I felt out-of-body with who I was and what I was doing. The confidence I'd spent so long working on, years to achieve, was gone in a matter of weeks. 

Going to America, meeting new people and basically gaining a second family, grounded who I was once more. It was an invaluable part of this year, for the cultural experience but also because I landed in England surer than ever of who I was. 

Which happens to be this absolute nutter who books one-way-flights with £100 to her name.

I spent 10 days in England between France and America, and 10 days in England between America and Australia, and I can honestly say those 20 days were absolute highlights of the year.

I spent quality time with my family, my dog and my friends. I finally saw Les Mis in the West End and I watched a friend I'd grown up with star in Mama Mia in the West End too. I was reunited over Christmas dinner with the people I graduated with, and I brunched with my other favourite university people. 

It's always bitter-sweet coming home, because you're reminded of how lucky you are. I have a roof over my head, incredibly supportive parents and friends and leaving my cat and dog behind is, frankly, heartbreaking. 

But the new adventure was upon me, and in the middle of December, I flew 30 hours to Sydney.

This didn't actually start out the way I'd pictured, as I had the same groundbreaking idea many of us in our twenties have before catching a flight. 

"Let's go out".

Honestly? The three worst words to say before a 30-hour flight. It resulted in me losing my phone, my bank card and my voice. Worth it? Absolutely not. But you live and you learn, and I somehow landed in Sydney in one piece.

Just in time to celebrate Christmas on the beach with my best friend, meet up with my old work colleagues, and spend New Year under Sydney's Harbour Bridge, seeing in the new decade singing Auld Lang Syne at the top of my lungs, swigging vodka coke and kissing any man or woman who wished me a Happy New Year.

My one mission of 2019 was to stay put, and I ended up doing the opposite. Instead of staying in one place, I've spent my year across four countries. I've been one of the lowest I've ever been, but I'm currently one of the happiest. 

As a side note (and prewarning) I LOVE the start of the new year, so this likely won't be the last post on the topic.

Thank you to everyone who graced my 2019. It was a wild ride, but I'm a stronger person because of it and, most likely, because of you.

Love, Alice x

(Photo collage of 2019 below)