Whenever you’re going through a transitional period in life, I find it always helps to reflect on the times that have made the biggest impact on you, caused a stir in your life, made you get up offa that thing and dance til you feel better (everyone has at least one time that’s made them quote the Godfather of Soul, James Brown). It helps to revisit those feelings and how and why those particular circumstances had an effect on you. Here’s my top five life changing moments:
My First Break Up
I was 18. It had been on the cards. He’d moved away to Manchester for university a few months before. It was never gonna work. I still remember sitting on the window sill in my bedroom, gazing out the window as the rain poured and he told me, down my clunky cordless phone, that we were no longer to be. I cried. He cried. I played 90s R’n’B ballads on repeat (OK, that bit’s a lie. Kind of). I was completely and utterly convinced I would never find anyone as good as him, ever, ever again. I stayed single for a year and a half after that, not wanting to be involved with anyone.
What I learned: Things sometimes fall apart. There is no point in trying to convince someone to be with you when they’re telling you, explicitly, they don’t want to be. Staying single for a long time afterwards was a much better decision that rushing into another relationship. Patience is a virtue.
Leaving New York
I moved to New York in January of 2004. I landed in a snow storm, in the middle of a blisteringly cold winter and fell in love with the city instantly. I had saved a nominal amount before heading over there and worked doing internships at magazines, convinced it would help me hit the big time. Needless to say, it didn’t. Living a hand to mouth existence, hustling for every bit of money I could find, I regularly had to make the choice between paying rent and eating (rent always won). Despite having nothing, I was having the time of my life. I hung in there for almost a year and a half, but eventually, after another knock back, after tirelessly chasing the dream, I eventually just ran out of track. I made the painstaking decision to go back to England. I cried all the way home on the plane. I cried til I fell asleep, woke up, realised I was still on the plane and then cried some more.
What I learned: Sometimes, no matter how hard you work for something, it’s just not meant to work out. It’s OK to admit defeat. Starting over can be just what you need.
Moving to Japan
It had been a lifelong dream to go there, so when I was offered a job in Tokyo, I jumped at the chance. I was so excited by the prospect, I barely prepared beyond packing a few suitcases beforehand. I knew no Japanese and hadn’t really considered the finer points of how I would survive in a completely new culture with no grasp of the language. My first three months were very hard – I couldn’t seem to get the hang of anything and just felt totally isolated. It wasn’t until I told myself if I was going to have this experience, I really needed to have it, that things changed. I overhauled my attitude and my approach and my experience changed as a result.
What I learned: Life truly is what you make of it. Sit around moaning all you want, but if you’re not making moves to improve your situation, I think I speak for everyone when I say, shut the hell up. Quite literally, go big or go home. Don’t half ass things. Positivity breeds positivity. Jump in with both feet.
Starting this Blog
It was 2007, I was in a rut. I was living in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, managing a small jewellery and accessories boutique. My writing career lay somewhere at the bottom of a toilet. I couldn’t get writing work for the life of me. New place, no contacts, uphill battle. One day, while browsing online, I came across blogs and thought ‘I could do that.’ And so it began. I spent a couple of months planning it all out, then went live in November. For the longest time, it seemed it was just my parents reading it, but with every new post, I felt I was taking a step in the right direction. My confidence grew and I finally found my voice as a writer.
What I learned: When all isn’t going to plan, rip up the plan and start a new one. Be proactive. You may be screaming into the oblivion, but it’s worth it if just one person listens.
My Second Run
I was asked my a PR company to run a half marathon and blog about it. I agreed, despite the fact that I’d never run before. My first attempt was disastrous. I couldn’t run for 30 seconds. I was overtaken by a pensioner. It was mortifying on every level. It was a huge wake up call. The next week, I went back to do the 5K route again and decided, this time, I wasn’t going to stop until it was finished. I wouldn’t stop, I wouldn’t walk, I was going to run the whole thing, no matter how uncomfortable I felt. And I did it. I repeated ‘I will not stop’ like a mantra to myself the whole way round. When I finished, I felt awesome. Well, I felt like I was going to puke, but when I got past that, I felt awesome.
What I learned: It’s surprising what you can do when you tell yourself you can do it. You always have more than you think left to give. The finish line is there to spark new starts.
So, what have some of your life changing moments been and why?