August 31, 2011 | life

My Top Five Life Changing Moments

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?

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20 Comments

Rachel

Brilliant entry!
I’m going through a transitional period at the moment and was doubting my abilities and still am to an extent to succeed in the new challenges ahead. However, your post has just made me realise if I tell myself I can do it, you know what, I can do it and I’m going to do it! I have worked so hard for this new challenge and now it’s time to succeed!

Thanks Bangs x

Book4MyDaughter

Like you, travel was a major contributor to my life altering experiences. For me it was gaining the self-confidence that had been lacking in me prior to having the experience of hopping on a plane to destinations unknown. Your journey, with the different places you lived and your reasons for being there, is fascinating. I’d love to read more.

my honest answer

Wow, this is a great post!

There have been so many of those moments for me too… I can certainly join the ‘cried all the way home on the plane’ club. In fact, first I drank far too much free airline liquor, so actually, I can start a new club called ‘puke your guts up over the pacific and then cry the REST of the way home’. And I was in a middle seat, those poor poor people on either side of me.

But like said, all those experiences, good and bad, teach us a lesson. Even the ones where you puke.

hapsci

Great post. I am debating what my next move is at the minute. I love going to new places, it can be really hard but you always learn something from it!

Leisa

Very inspiring; thank you for making me consider my own! (Interestingly, moving to Japan is on my list also.)

Ms Victoria Jane/Ruby

Great Post Bangs x

Mine are as follows

My first rehab – It didnt work but it opened my eyes up to addiction and I was never able to use again properly, very painful to discover that, but it did the trick in the end.

My Grandmothers Death – I was so shocked and upset I decided to change my life and make her proud of me wherever she is, and so I dont my second (and hopefully final) rehab, started to go to college and build a new life for myself.

Going to Chicago – I went to Chicago alone for 5 days in the middle of a pretty rough medical treatment. It was my second flights in my whole life at the age of 25 and I realised I could do whatever I want wherever I want and I could do it all on my own.

The births of my nephews – I’ve loved a lot of people in my life, but the love I have for these two little boys is something that takes away my breath constantly. They are pure innocent little things, and have already had a hard time due to my brothers. I promised myself when they were born always to look out for them, to help thier mother give them everything they deserve in life and to always let them know exactly how loved they are. When the chips are down, they make everything better. Its only been 5 years but I cant imagine life without the little monsters 😉

Finding the Internet – I met my best friend in the entire world on a dating site. funny huh? We have been froends for 7 years, her daughter calls me Auntie, we go to each others homes (she is in Holland) once or twice a year and quit the net for the telephone some time ago… Internet relationships do work, although generally not with men. Then there was my blog, which allowed me to vent all my troubles and thoughts through the tougher years – I’ve neglected that for quite some time now, not because I am better, but because I found twitter, a less ardous way of communicating with people like me, or understanding of people like me, or just cool people. The world of blogs forums and twitter save my life a number of times, not least the last time I had a breakdown, I was so supported it knocked my socks off – as you know…. and I dont care how pathetic it sounds I will always love the internet for that. When there is no friends, I have my computer, I can find help or I can share my Joy… thats priceless

Sorry for taking up so much room and sorry if I got it wrong or misunderstood but your post is brilliant and though provoking so I thought I’d share mine today.

Thanks Bangs x

Electric Plum

An incredibly timely post for me, Bangs. I don’t know if there’s something in the air generally at the moment (is it me, or is there a bit of an overdose of fluxing going on for a lot of people right now??) but I’m absolutely standing bang smack in the middle of one of those life-changing, cross-roads type jobbies where the change is dramatic, certainly not what I had ever planned, but the only way to proceed positively is to follow it. What’s really great is that on the other side of my current state of upheaval is a world that resembles an oyster. Haven’t had one of life’s fresh pages in eons, so thanks a gadzillion for helping me to remind myself that the only way is up – and life is most definitely what you make of it. Hurray for life changing moments, however shite they might appear on the surface.

Clover

I love this post. That is all. Very well-written, insightful, honest, just self-deprecating enough–all the things that are quickly making this one of my must-read blogs. Thanks for your wonderful writing. I’m glad all your failures, challenges, and hard-earned lessons brought you to where you are!

Anjali

Love this post!
I some ways I can relate, in other ways I am learning from you.
I’m moving to a new place in November…I’m really looking forward to it and know it will change my life. After reading your lessons learned, I can’t wait to continue my journey 🙂

Vicky

Great post – life is all about life-changing moments!

By the way, as a non-Twitter user but a lurking reader, I’ve seen your requests for collaboration etc and thought I should suggest LinkedIn if you’re not already on it. It’s a great way to get your CV out there (I have no affiliation to it, just think it’s a great tool – and free!)

Vicky

PS The reason I mentioned it was due to the fact that I was updating my own CV on there, and job-hunting, and I saw a few content editor/manager jobs for ASOS – and thought of you 🙂

Brownngirl

Your move from NY back home sounds like my same story having to leave LA to go back home. I lived in California for 4 years trying to make it as a writer in the TV business. I was an overworked, underpaid, struggling Production Assistant for 4 years and after a few setbacks in ’09, I had to admit that things weren’t working and I had to pack it up and move back to Chicago in Jan 2010. In tears. lol!

One of the most difficult decisions because I was hell bent that I was on the right track. But, as you said, sometimes no matter how hard you work for something, sometimes it’s just not meant to work out. Thanks for sharing these. I could relate to so many!

Olivia

Love this piece. It’s amazing hearing all the places you’ve been. Have you written about working in Japan? x

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