6 years ago today I was on a plane. This time 6 years ago, we had touched down in the desert. The Middle East was to be my home for 2 years and my family’s for 4.
6 years on, my little brother, parents and dog are still out in the sandpit but at the fruity age if 22, I’m back in England and right now I’m reflecting on my life since then.
My life has changed immeasurably.
I was 16 when I moved. I went to Dubai with an ambition less than the one I found, an uncertainty about where life would lead, a tighter grip around my family than I ever had had and my heart yearning after a boy from the secondary school I had just left. Obviously.
6 years later, there are many uncertainties still in my life, my ambition has grown, I love my family more than ever and my love life has got no better.
But, undoubtedly, my life has changed. And here’s how …
1. I found the place which started my love affair of travel
Dubai. That was it.
It was so ridiculously different. There was so much culture. There was so much to love. There was so much that was different. And so in the desert I found what I have continued to do throughout my life since then; to seek the unfound.
In 2 years, I went to India, Oman, Jordan, Malaysia and Indonesia to name but a few. And I’ve been even further around the world since then.
2. I realigned my goals
I was a zookeeper from birth, but not only that, I was stubborn. I wouldn’t give it up. I wanted to rehabilitate rhinos. I wanted what I wanted. So until I found myself in a college in Dubai trying decide what university I would go to with people who already knew that they wanted to be teachers and psychologists and aeroplane pilots, my world was set.
At 16, after holding on to my dream job for so long, I had to let it go. I learned to release myself and rightly, or wrongly, (to this day I’m still not sure) I entered the world of proper aspirations.
3. I started to believe in my ability
I went down with a fight in giving up my zookeeping dreams but actually it opened my eyes. I loved animals. A lot. But that’s not who I was. I found out that I was a writer. I’d known that from little but had ignored it. It was something I did in private. Stories were gifts to boyfriends when I was in year 3. They weren’t real.
But at 17 I found myself writing for the college magazine and getting full marks in my AS and A2 courseworks. I then found myself applying for English degrees.
I started to believe. I was told I could. And for one of the first times in a long time, I listened.
4. I became more sociable
I was the world’s worst advert for a teenager growing up. In Dubai I experimented a little bit more with going out because I didn’t want to be a complete loner in a new alien country. But really it wasn’t until I went back to the UK for uni that I came out of my shell (after a tearful first night in halls which was as close to real trauma as I have ever felt – and this was in the period of my life before I actually started talking about my feelings). In Argentina I got out even more when I would actively go to bars alone to meet people. And tag along to groups of friends.
Absolutely no shame.
I’m still definitely a lover of my own time but I am a lot more willing to go out with friends now over curling up on my bed and reading yet more Jodi Picoult or watching Matilda or Love, Rosie on repeat.
5. I found God
THE biggest change to come out of these 6 years was my finding of God in a Bolivian mountain range. Since that day, life has been nothing but good to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had tough times but I’ve come out so much stronger. My mental health has improved tonnes and my life has always felt so full of love. I have someone to depend on always.
I know people find it hard to relate. And I even struggle with the concept (still working on removing that Doubting Thomas in my mind). But I am so much better with God and I strive for a better life and for new hopes. Life could not be better and I am so so excited for life.
6. I stopped running with my romantic heart and let my passionate heart rule.
Of course, I’ve got work to do – it’s hard to kick a habit of a lifetime. But I have 100% been able to focus on what I and what life is all about. It is no longer about the pursuing of a ‘suitable life partner’. It’s so much bigger. And the best thing is that…
Love is still the hugest part of it!!!
It’s all about love. That’s all its ever been about. But I’ll be damned if I knew it before now!