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31 December 2018

2018: The Year Of Winging It

Welcome to your yearly roundup of my life.

If you happen to have missed any of the others, you can find them at the bottom of this page, but for now, let's crack on with 2019.

As anyone who is familiar with this little internet space will know, it's worth grabbing a cuppa for the annual roundup. Maybe even make up a sandwich of all your favourite leftovers. Either way, settle down, and enjoy.

I started 2018 surrounded by my friends in our local pub. It was completely and utterly not how I planned to welcome in the new year. I had planned a cheese and champagne evening at my house with a friend, but the plan fell through. So instead, I decked myself out in last-minute fancy dress, text the most fabulous drinking pals I have, and headed into a new year full of booze and 80s music.

And to be honest, this sudden, last minute change of plan ended up setting a precedent for my behaviour throughout the rest of the year.

I truly thought I had winged my way through university, until 2018 happened.

2018 wasn't just a year of going out spontaneously (although naturally, that happened too), this was a year in which my whole life took a u-turn several times.

A couple of weeks into January, after the most incredible leaving party, surrounded with most of my favourite people in the world, I landed in Sydney.
On that first day in Sydney, I met a life-changer. And, to be quite honest, I looked at the girl who would soon become my best friend and thought "Wow. She is not my type of person."

Fast forward approximately two weeks, and we're buying matching Havaianas and spending every spare minute together.

So clearly, I knew nothing.

It's important for me to mention Gemma, because from the moment we met, we became each other's support systems. We were both from the UK, both au pairs, both living in Sydney and both unbelievably talented at karaoke when drunk.

Honestly.

For the best part of eight months, we held each other up when things got tough. Gemma listened to me change my mind about what I was doing in life approximately 1300 times, and I convinced her it was time to give up au pairing and find a job which felt more stable. We controlled each other from making awful male life choices, yet supported each other in spending $600 on a rugby player auction for charity. Whilst I was quitting my job Sydney 9-5 to freelance and travel, Gemma was being offered a 9-5 and moving into her first flat. We balanced each other out, and in many ways, 2018 should really just be called the year of Gemma. However, I absolutely refuse to give her that kind of satisfaction.
During this time of au pairing, I found another life-long friend, who became more like family, in my host mum and the little boy I looked after. Bev and Nate became a second family, and I am under absolutely no illusion that this doesn't always happen - having au paired in Italy four years ago.

Fortunately, I found a host family who both supported me throughout my time in Australia and inspired me daily.

After a month in Sydney, I secured a part-time job as an editorial assistant for two Australian digital publications. It's safe to say, I loved this job. I loved the people, I loved the work, and to be honest, I'm unlikely to work in a place I love so much ever again.

By the June, I was working there full-time and had moved into my own flat in the centre of Sydney with three other girls and two dogs.

Over the next three months, I lived every typical graduate's dream. I was walking to work through (in my opinion) the best city in the world. My job was fulfilling, I was creating content for two publications I was passionate about, I interviewed Pale Waves and my boss introduced me to The Wombats. We would have Friday lunches which didn't finish until 4pm and we almost always won Trivia at the local pub. I made friends for life in that top floor office in Surry Hills.

But I was feeling suffocated.



There was talk of sponsoring me to live in Australia, there were discussions about how to extend my contract. I'd left my London 9-5 to travel and see a new country, and instead, I'd landed myself in the same living situation, just 10,000 miles away.

I became unhappy, and I wanted to move on before I began to resent the company who had made me feel so welcome in Australia.

So, with the connections I'd made through my Sydney job, I was able to turn my job into a freelancing one, and during my first freelance gig, I was flown to New Zealand.

It's safe to say I peaked fairly early in my career.

I spent the best part of a week winging every second of this time. I had the worst imposter syndrome ever, and honestly felt like I didn't deserve to be writing the story of this incredible company. But I did. I wrote it, I handed it in, and I was commissioned more work for them, as they were delighted with what I'd given.

By this time, my plan to travel around for the next few years was starting to unravel. The consequence of living in one of the world's most expensive cities had taken its toll, I'd saved almost nothing and when my parents flew out to see me and travel to Melbourne, I was waiting for that months income to come in from freelancing, which was $1000 less than what I was used to.

After cancelling my plans to head to Thailand, where a voluntary position was being held for me at an Elephant Sanctuary, I decided, fairly last minute, to fly to Cairns in north Queensland, and road trip down the east coast

Except, well, that didn't quite work out either. The 2 of the 3 people I was going to road trip down with were a bit (very) creepy, and I wasn't paid on time by one of the companies I'd been freelancing for.

In short, my life changed again.

I ended up staying in Cairns for the next 2 months. Visiting the rainforests, going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, jumping into waterfalls and, once again, meeting even more amazing people. I also improved my German tenfold, because almost every single new friend happened to be German.

I started working for accommodation at the hostel, running the trivia night and secured two other jobs for a different company in Cairns.

Those two months, despite not going as planned, were two of my favourite months in Australia. I was surrounded by like-minded people and every time someone I knew and loved left, a new person would arrive.

Eventually, I was left with the realisation that my trip home for Christmas, which was always planned to be only 3 weeks, would have to be more permanent.

With a university overdraft hanging over my head, I decided that instead of staying in Australia and going to New Zealand to save up and pay it off - something which could still have been an option - I wanted to come home and get rid of the overdraft, before coming back out with a lot more than the £180 I had landed in Sydney with last January.

For me, although the year never went to plan, I don't regret any of the decisions I made.

If I hadn't gone out to Sydney when I did, I never would have met Gemma. If I hadn't stayed in Sydney, I wouldn't have met Audrey, my best friend from work. If I hadn't stayed in Cairns, I never would have met what came to be my "Tropic Days Family".

I don't feel like I've changed in the way some people "find themselves" (featuring lots of harem pants and drugged tigers in Thailand), but I do feel more sure of myself.

The people I met and the friends I made during my time in Australia had no expectation. They didn't have to become my friends, they didn't have to like me, it was all through choice.

I also realised more about my career and what I want to do. It confirmed for me how much I love writing and how happy I am in a job where writing is at the centre of what I do.

I discovered my writing ability isn't just useful for blogs. I can write for companies, I can write for publications, and, a hobby I had always considered just that - a hobby - is actually a talent, which maybe one day I can turn into my career.
One of the main lessons I've learnt from Australia is that things don't have to happen tomorrow. I'd always thrown myself into decisions extremely last minute. If I made a decision to do something, it had to happen tomorrow.

I met people of all ages in my travels, and for the most part, being 23 was on the lower end of the spectrum. There is time. I met 18-year-olds on their gap years, and I met a 68-year-old who was staying at my hostel and travelling via Greyhound bus for a month around the country.

There is no age limit to travelling, and it's much more important to be safe (and semi-prepared, let's face it), than make it all happen tomorrow and end up regretting that decision.

So for now, I'm back in England. Due to my parents home being extremely far from any industry and the salaries being much lower than average here, I'm looking at all options of where to live.

I have no time frame in mind, the most important thing to me, is that I'm happy.

So yes, for 2018, it was the year of winging it. But it was also the year of lessons, and the year of friends and the year of adventure.

Thank you all for following Alice's Antics, and after a recent blog post went viral, welcome to all of the new readers.

I hope your new year is as full to the brim with love as I currently am full to the brim with mince pies.

As always, photos below are a collage of my 2018.

Love, Alice x


READ MY OTHER YEARLY SUMMARIES
2013: The Year of Photos
2014: The Year of Becoming
2015: The Year of Being Content
2016: The Year of Friendship
2017: The Year of Change












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