I love resolution.
I always feel as if a story should have a clear beginning, middle and end, with all the loose ends tied up neatly. It’s a rarity in life that things happen that way, and more often than not, we find ourselves clinging onto one chapter when we really should be moving onto the next one. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but for me there’s nothing worse than staying too long anywhere. We’re living in a world with seven billion characters, with every single one a protagonist in their own story. There are times when we’re so focused on the plot that we forget about developing our own character, and others when we get so bogged down with who we are and where we’re going that we forget why we are the way we are and where we’ve come from.
It’s fair to say that in 2016, I lost the plot a little bit. I had no idea what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be or how I wanted to move forward. I was stagnant, bored and frankly unfulfilled to the point I found myself sitting in my car crying on the phone to my mum half-way through my day of sales meetings where I was selling shitty advertising to people who didn’t want it. That was a pretty low point, and one I’m not ashamed to talk about.
I don’t care who you are, how old you are or how tough you think you are, there is nobody better at giving you advice than your mum. There’s nobody who knows you better and no one else on the planet who has your best interests at heart as much as them. I remember she told me, “James, just go home.”
So I did.
I realised not long after that there was something holding me back from moving forward. I had been planning to go to Australia since I was seventeen. I always thought I would go straight after university, which was always the plan, but such is life, the pull of a stable job was too much to pass up, so I postponed it again. I don’t regret that decision, because if it wasn’t for those three years in that job, I wouldn’t have the job that I’m now going back to. I wouldn’t have been prepared for it.
I feel like everything happened last year as it was supposed to. I’m not a strong believer in fate or anything like that, but I do believe that every cloud has a silver lining. When my boss at the time told me they couldn’t afford to pay my salary, it led to a chain of events that set me on my way to Australia. I had nothing to lose- no dependents, no major debts, nothing holding me back, so I Skyped my sister one night and asked her if I could spend a year with her and her family- and that was it.
Something changed from that point. It wasn’t the potential realisation of a dream, it wasn’t the excitement of spending a year abroad…it was that I had a goal. Before that point I wasn’t working towards anything, I had no motivation to do anything more than the bare minimum to get by, and it led to me being unfulfilled and unhappy. Now though, I was saving for a trip, I was making plans of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to see, what I wanted to achieve, and it felt fucking amazing.
When I came to Australia, I had three things on my bucket list.
- Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef- Achieved November ‘16
- Skydive over Australia- Achieved December ‘16
- Bungee Jump- Achieved May ‘17
It was a short list, sure, but they were the main things I wanted to do and I did it, and once I did them, I felt content that I had accomplished what I set out to achieve and so much more, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about life this year. Everyone needs a goal. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are doing or why you are doing it, having a goal gives everything focus, it gives you perspective and it gives you a deadline. I gave myself a year to do everything I wanted to do- more than enough time, and I wanted to list out all of the other things I’ve done this year and I hope I can inspire you to do the same. No matter what it is, look back on your year and remember what it is you’ve done, how you’ve moved forward and how you can move onto the next chapter.
James’ Brag List 16/17
-Embarked on my first long-haul flight
-Stepped foot in Australia
-Caught my first fish
-Learned how to paddleboard
-Learned what a schooner was…learned how to pour a beer
-Met my Uncle Bernard
-Cycled 50km in a morning before work
–Swam Flailed about in the Pacific Ocean
-Visited Byron Bay
-Climbed Mount Warning with my sister
-Became a licensed scuba diver
-Got dive bombed by a magpie
-Learned to appreciate craft beer
-Learned a lifetime worth of anecdotes from Bernard
-Got bitten by a leech
-Visited Surfer’s Paradise
-Visited my first waterfall
-Planned a 30 day road trip
-Left for my road trip
-Bet on the Melbourne Cup
-Lost money on the Melbourne Cup
-Accidentally stumbled across a gay nudist beach…accidentally!
-Stayed with my first couchsurfing hosts
-Watched a horse breeding
-Felt extremely emasculated
-Stayed with my second couchsurfing host
-Met my late Aunt Voni for the first time and my cousin Judy for the second time
-Paid my respects to my late uncle Denis
-Met my Aunt Bev
-Touched the Sydney Opera House
-Walked along Sydney Harbour Bridge
-Met my Sydney pals! Got drunk with my Sydney pals!
-Met my Aunt Cath and Uncle Garry
-Saw a Joey and a Wombat for the first time
-Went on the 2nd best drive of my life down the snowy mountains towards Bairnsdale
-Met some of the best people I could ever hope to meet
-Went on the best drive of my life along the Great Ocean Road with some of the best people I could ever hope to meet
-Saw penguins in the wild!
-Met Adam and Adrian and stayed in one of the nicest city apartments I’ve ever seen!
-Scuba Dived in the Great Barrier Reef- saw Nemo!
-Found one of my favourite cities in the world and stared at it from Kangaroo Point for far too long!
-Met Jesse and Shinade
-Started planning New Zealand
-Started writing 500 words a day of my novel
-Have now written over 120,000 words of my novel
-Skydived over Byron Bay from 14,000 feet
-Went night swimming
-Saw my first shooting star
-Scuba Dived with nurse sharks and sea turtles at Cook Island
-Went camping at O’Reillys with some of the best people I know
-Sat on top of a waterfall
-Realised how damn lucky I was to be in Australia
–Did a zipline stoned out of my mind Did wholesome things
-Visited more waterfalls and swam underneath them
-Did a zipline course when visiting Mount Tamborine (not stoned)
-Picked up a hitchhiker
-Met up with Danielle in Australia!
-Experienced my first major tropical storm
– Saw the very real effects of severe flooding
-Went on a speedboat out to Moreton Island
-First time snorkeling
-Visited more damn waterfalls- the best of the bunch at Twin Falls
-Hiked some more
-Visited New Zealand
-Visited Christchurch- met some more fucking awesome people!
-Walked through a cave
-Saw the sunrise over Lake Tekapo
-Took a cable car and had my first luge ride
-Rode a rodeo bull and stayed on far longer than anyone expected
-Got absolutely trashed in Queenstown
-Visited Milford Sound
-Saw baby seals!
-Took some of the most amazing pictures of my life
-Bungee Jumped from 134m- the highest bungee in NZ
-Didn’t shit myself
-Jumped off a 109m canyon backwards for the banter
-Still didn’t shit myself
-Skydived over Lake Wanaka from 16,000 feet
-Flew a stunt plane over Lake Wanaka an hour later
-Performed a perfectly executed barrel roll
-Performed a poorly executed loop
-Took some more incredible pictures
-Swam in hot pools in 2 degree weather
-Saw five waterfalls in one go and a glacier in the same spot
-Broke my phone by slipping on a rock
-Saw the bluest water I’ve ever seen
-Went Kayaking for the first time
-Met some lifelong friends- SOUTH ISLAND TOUR BUDDIES!
-Made the best playlist ever made
-Spent more time with Bernard, Joe, Merella and Monique
-Somehow kept this blog going for an entire year
-Met some lifelong friends at my Aussie home
-Worked with and for some truly incredible people
-Got to know my beautiful niece
-Stayed with the most hospitable people on the planet
-Fell in love with Australia
I didn’t expect that to be so long. If you skipped through all of it and ended up here then I don’t blame you, but I really mean it, write out your own list and relive some memories. If you’re struggling to write one because you haven’t done anything and it’s getting you down, then go do something. The world won’t wait for you, so go do what you want to do and make sure you fucking love doing it. If there’s an opportunity, take it, if it seems too hard then find out what the first step is and do that.
I’m being preachy and I don’t even care. I’ve had an awesome year, and that’s mainly down to the people I’ve spent it with. Jules and Paul, thank you so much for letting me into your lives and giving me the chance to live my dream- I owe you everything. Matilda, thank you for being so welcoming and for imparting your wisdom on me. Lachie, thank you for showing me the real Australia and for being everything a best mate should be. Bernard, thank you for telling me stories about my Dad he would never have told me, and for showing me your amazing world. To all of my close friends, family, couchsurfing hosts, travelling buddies, work friends, tour buddies…thank you all for making this one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Of all the things I’ve done here, it wouldn’t have meant half as much if I hadn’t been able to share it with all of you. You will forever be in my heart.
So what’s the next chapter?
Well, I go back to England tomorrow night. I land on Thursday, and I’ll be back to work by Monday. In a new job and a new company, but with familiar faces and a newfound enthusiasm for what I do. The next goal is to get my book ready for publishing. This time next year I hope to have a completed manuscript, ready to send to literary agents and publishing houses. I’ve also got a lot of catching up to do with old friends and a lot more places to see in the UK, so I’ll be booking a few domestic trips too.
As for this blog, I’m afraid this is the final post. I’m glad I did it, as I now have an archive of my year and I’m sure I’ll go back and read some when I’m feeling nostalgic. I will be forever thankful for those who encouraged me to write this blog, and those who gave it their support (mainly my family and this blog’s self-proclaimed biggest fan; Danielle).
Thank you once again to everybody who made this year special, and I promise (whether you like it or not) this won’t be the last you see of me.
Thank you for reading!
Goodbye and live the dream.