This Isn’t a Travel Story

Facebook reminded me this morning that a year ago today I had a really disastrous trip to Norway/Sweden. Looking back, it makes me laugh sometimes, but it was such a turning point for me. Instead of dredging it all back up, I’m gonna give an overview:

  • Arrived in Bergen, all good. Had a couple of great days, I love Bergen.
  • Took the Bergen line to Oslo, what an incredible experience. The landscape continually changed and I was like a dog at the window, never seen anything so beautiful in my life (and I still think so!).
  • Arrived in Oslo, had plans to see my now ex who was also visiting the city and give him his early birthday present (not a euphemism). No exaggeration, checked into the worst hostel I’ve been to so far, luckily I was only keeping my bag there. Ended up waiting 2 hours past our agreed meeting time as his meeting ‘over run’ and he wasn’t answering my calls. Yes, I shouldn’t have stayed. I even thought that then, but I desperately wanted to see him…love sucks, right? He tells me I’m at the wrong place, travel across the city. Spend the evening thoroughly confused at this man in front of me.
  • Next morning, made my way to Gothenburg. Cards declining for no reason according to bank, tram fare dodging and getting lost. Decide to spend the day island hopping, in November. It was nearing minus degrees and I was stuck on this island with 2 hours to wait until the next ferry. Phone was dying, my flight was in the next few hours and I just wanted to fucking go home. Finally get back to my hotel and book my bus to the airport, except I got confused with name places and got off 25km from the damn airport and this absolute angel in a store called me an overpriced taxi. At that point, I just didn’t give a fuck.

But past all of that, what I really remember with so much distinction is the feeling as I walked home with my baggage in tow. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

And I don’t say that in any flippant way at. All. I was going through every trait I thought I held, independant, take no shit and worthy of a lot of things, but most of all worthy of respect. My mind raced with experiences that backed up each negative thing I thought about myself and I really tore myself apart, it was a moment I never want to experience again. Feeling completely lost in my own mind.

That was the beginning of my quarter life crisis. Yes, not mid life. Apparently this is a thing! But it didn’t start there, that was the turning point, I’d spent many months being so miserable. And miserable of being miserable. But after this point of ‘self realisation’ a really strong switch flicked inside me. Even now while writing this it still is a hard thing to think about, but there’s a purpose behind it. Because I’ve not felt that lost of a looooooong ass time now.

For months following this moment, I toyed with the idea of deferring my degree. I had six months left, just six and I felt so strongly that trying to survive was the only thing I could really do. My grades were suffering, one assignment in particular resulting in a meagre 44, something I’ve never seen. I’d missed so many dissertation meetings and interviews. Work was my salvation and really the only thing that gave me a reason to not drop out. I rarely saw anyone, my social skills really suffered (something I’m so proud to have improved) and I just continued to torture myself with the memories of that one night. And torture is the right word, no matter how much I tried to stop it didn’t work. Sometimes it would feel like a parting in the clouds, I remember my friend Magnus had gotten a place at the uni that he was dreaming about and it was the one time in probably months that I felt happy, but not even happy, it was euphoric and that wasn’t healthy. Because what goes up, must come down.

Have you ever spent the night unable to sleep, or staying up all night, and the next day feels surreal in a way? Like you’re in a different space? A liminal space is a place that seems a bit ‘off’ when they’re not ‘doing’ as they’re expected, like a playground at night. The steady swings and empty slide. I remember walking to my car to go to work, something I had done many, many times before, but the night before I had just one thought in my head. I remember that day just feeling like somebody else, somebody in a different body.

That was in February. I had my last counselling session maybe two weeks after that, it was really positive, which is a surprise. I had dyed my hair for the first time in about 3 months, this is relevant, I kinda feel like a new person when I change my hair up. Like women who get a haircut post-breakup. Anyway, for the first time in nearly a year I felt like I could get through uni, that I could take care of myself and move on. I still have the messages saved that my parents sent me after I told them I didn’t want to be alive on that Saturday night. I began to look towards the future, I booked my plane ride to Asia and began looking at where I wanted to go in Norway after. Making up for lost time, I threw myself into revising for my exams and research for my dissertation. I had a leaving party at work and cried way too much. I packed all my shit up and on the next day boarded my plane to Hong Kong. I walked on that stage and fucken graduated, my boys.

I watched many more sunsets, and that was what kept me going.

Looking back over the past few months, a post which I’ll be putting up next week, I can see myself coming to a real self actualisation. The quarter life crisis still exists, but mostly because I want to be a lot of things and don’t know where to start! But I feel like an unfurling flower at times, taking the rose tinted glasses off of life and seeing things for what they are (good and bad) and deciding if that’s what I want. What I deserve. Using my rusty backbone and feeling like I have some sort of idea of what would make me satisfied in life. Most of all, I haven’t felt lost in my own head ever since. Sometimes, there is freedom in loss- in many senses of the word.

 

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