The emotional journey to Australia Part I

I suppose like all good stories I should start at the beginning. Except, given that I have no current direction and feel so lost, the beginning seems all but a myth. I’m struggling; greatly. In ways that words could not hope to convey. I, like many others have, are and will, am going through the adjustment period of attempting to start a new life from its beginnings whilst feeling like I have no control and confidence in my decisions or their consequences.

The last words in my previous post about not wanting to come to Australia were that I hoped I would feel some sense of relief once I had arrived. Sadly I have found the opposite to be true. Before I began my 36 hour journey to Sydney, anything was possible. I knew my rough plans and goals and they offered a minute source of comfort to me in my darkest times but faced with reality once landed, I have felt worse than I ever could have imagined.

My first week was lost to a blur of tears brought on by physical pain I felt from my mental despair. Unable to sleep and eating nothing more than a banana a day, I was plagued (and still am) by the thought that I had made the wrong decision in the most momentous of ways. I questioned how I could have been so selfish to leave my mum after all that she had done for me despite her being my emotional cheerleader, wanting me to go out and seek a new, happy life. Crying in my dorm room I have felt like a failure to myself and my friends and family whose loving expectations weigh heavy on my shoulders. I feel ungrateful yet knowing of my emotional need to feel whatever my body and heart is telling me to.

I’ve been here a month and yet emotionally I still feel as vulnerable as I did in my first week. I have no job, I’m still living in a hostel and the ‘Australian dream’ seems to be slipping through my tear-stained fingers however desperately I try and fight to hold on. I am mentally and physically exhausted but I want to be honest so bear with me…

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I had expectations of myself in Sydney. That I would arrive in the city, see the sights and think ‘yes! I made it!’. Instead, I saw the bridge and the Opera House on my first day and felt nothing; except guilt for my emptiness. I made friends on the walking tour and I smiled in my photos but inside I was empty. I expected to find a job and a place to live within the month and yet today, they feel further from my grasp than before I left home. I thought I would fall in love with Australia and yet I currently find myself resenting it for making me feel the way I do. 

Family and friends also have expectations. They want to live vicariously through me as I have my adventure and watch as I hopefully become happy which is sweet but how am I supposed to answer their ‘how is Australia’ questions honestly without feeling embarrassed? How am I supposed to tell them that I want to be anywhere but here right now despite my ‘beautiful photos’? That I want to get into bed and never leave? And so, in the spirit of honesty, ironically I lie to them because it comes back to my previous writing; when you’re chronically depressed, upset or feeling negative, no-one wants to keep hearing it because you’re ‘complaining’ so I stop saying it because I can’t handle the ‘it will all work out’ speeches even though they are said with love and comfort.

So on that level I feel an immense of guilt for how depressed I am. I KNOW that I have worked myself into the ground to save enough money for this trip and I KNOW that I have been through hell in the last 2 years so deserve it but knowing something and feeling/accepting it are two entirely different matters. I feel I SHOULD be happy because everyone wants me to be and because so many people would love to travel in Australia and the fact that I can’t weighs me down with guilt that I know I shouldn’t feel but can’t help myself. If ‘hindsight is a cruel mistress’, guilt comes a close second.

I also can’t begin to explain how discouraging and ruthless searching for a job and a place to live is. No one acknowledges your resume and you’re lucky to get a call back to view an apartment which comes before an ‘audition’ to see if they like you enough to become their housemate. It’s hard not to take it personally when your calls go unanswered (or they hang up) or you keep missing out on places because someone else’s personality fits the house better than yours and your friends find places quicker than you.

The catch 22 is that in coming here I feel too depressed right now to do much of anything which leads me to feelings of self-hate, embarrassment for not ‘loving it in Australia’, guilt for not making the effort and shame that I can’t ‘get my act’ together. To say I’m currently trapped in a downward spiral would be a sad understatement.

And yet, I have had some amazing times here this past month, even if I have been unable to truly feel their pleasures on a deeper level. I took a short but solitary walk to the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse to gaze upon Palm Beach…

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I sat in a net (attached to a boat) in Nelson Bay to allow dolphins and their calves to swim feet away from me…

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I stood on the viewpoint and watched whales breach in the distance…

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I met some of the actors from Home and Away…
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and I have made friends with some of the most amazing women I could find sometimes laughing until it hurt to do so any longer…

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Which leads me to a beautiful equilibrium in that I seem to have collected the wounded souls who feel as distressed as I am. My sadness allows me to see it in others. It allows me to spend my mornings on the bathroom floor of the hostel talking through a toilet door because the girl is too upset to come out. It allows me to be the person they call when they’re lonely and want some company just to read a book together. It allows me for a few minutes, or hours, to be their ‘person’; the one who will listen without judgement as they cry, safe in the knowledge I can comfort them by revealing that I and many others feel the same. Receiving a text this week from a young girl thanking me for making her feel ‘so much more comfortable here’ felt bittersweet; I am able to help others and yet feel powerless to help myself in the same regard.

However, a dear friend reminded me this week that maybe the only achievement I needed to accomplish was to get on the plane; that I should expect nothing else from myself except the satisfaction of knowing that I did something that many in this world are too afraid to do.

If my words sound depressing it’s because they are a reflection of my thoughts and for the moment, this is my journey.  If I can’t be happy in myself, I can’t write happy words simply to make someone feel more comfortable and to avoid them believing I am ungrateful for my opportunity.  For now, my thoughts don’t afford me the luxury of optimism or believing that ‘everything will work out for the best’.  They are bias towards the negative and don’t allow for objectivity in how I perceive my journey so far but  I got on the plane and I’m trying; every day I’m trying.  That’s more than most people can say in their lives.

I can’t be truly happy right now; my soul just isn’t ready for it yet.

But I’m trying; everyday I’m trying.

 

 

 

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13 comments

  1. Jill

    I have had the exact same emotions, when I did what you have done, which is now 9 years ago. Some of the feelings still exist. I came to a country where I could not speak the language or understand the culture, slowly but surely it gets better and I now feel at home in my chosen country, though still do not understand everything fully. just be yourself and you will meet nice people and not so nice!!!!, but be proud of yourself for what you have done, it IS an achievement. Just take each day one at a time, and I wish you luck and happiness.

  2. I think you should go back and be with your mum. Why do you keep fihjting it? If it’s not working out and you want to be with her then go to her… sigh

  3. It sure is a tough one trying to find work here right now. In a horribly selfish way, I’m glad there are loads of us going through the same process of constant rejection. It means it’s nothing personal. But chin up! We’ve got to either keep trying or cut our losses, and in the process try to see as much of the country and create as many happy memories as we can xxx

    PS. You should see my lobster face after one hour under a cloudy sky today! Another sign this isn’t the place for me??! 😉

  4. Tristan

    Hey Toni

    You are so right “getting on the plane” is in itself a huge thing – Ps Its been Lashing it down in Devon !

    Tristan

  5. I love this line: “maybe the only achievement I needed to accomplish was to get on the plane”. It’s something I’m currently struggling with. And it’s your journey and you don’t have to be completely content right now. Leaving a life that you’ve known for a long time to start a new beginning is hard. But you got on that plane, and now you just need to take it one step at a time even if you need to take breaks in between the steps. <3

  6. I agree with Priya’s comment – maybe you’ve already done what you needed to do. Showing yourself you can get on that plane. I’m a firm believer of the whole que sera sera thing, whatever will be will be. I’m getting on a plane and heading somewhere new a couple of months from now, and I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get a job and an apartment. But I’m going to get on that plane, go there, try my hardest, and see what happens.

  7. I’m sorry you haven’t found what you need yet here. Maybe you could try another city. I don’t think I’d do too well trying to set up life in Sydney. You could try Melbourne or Brisbane or even Newcastle or something close to Sydney.

    Even if things don’t end up how you imagined you might discover in the end that you’ve found things you weren’t looking for. Changing your dreams doesn’t mean failure. Sometimes things just aren’t how we imagine and that’s fine.

  8. I’m so glad I didn’t read this until after your Facebook updates from today. Glad to see things are turning around.

    I know, and have known all along that you are going to find great things there. I’m sad it’s taken longer than you want, but I still feel that way.

    Keep your head up- good things happen to good people, and you’re an exceptional person. They’re coming… just hang on :-)

  9. things will get better, I guarantee it! just try not to focus on the negative things that are not happening, stop guilt tripping yourself (cant put all that weight on your shoulders, for wanting to impress your friends/family because they are living vicariously through you, for instance!).

    Try to clear your mind. I know it’s hard, but when you’re having an amazing day trip such as the day at the beach, the day at the ocean with the dolphins, just breathe in deeply and take that very moment in–without thinking about what your plans are or what you are trying to make happen in your life outside of that moment. I have found this simple practice really helps calm the turmoil in my soul and sadness in my heart.

    If you need anyone to talk to, I’m here. You know I have very similar struggles and know how to help you find some peace *HUGS*

    -Maria Alexandra

  10. Everyone who’s posted here already has about the right idea. Like Olivia said you oughta move around while you got the money and check out which place feels the most comfortable. I keep hearing that Brisbane is an awesome city, maybe there’s something for you there??

    I’m also wandering around some new lands without social familiarity. It can be tough at times for sure. When I feel a little disconnected I try to boost myself by remembering that I’m following my dreams. If I was sitting in a cubicle, I’d find that comfort, but that’s really just comfortably numb.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451: I hate a Roman named Status Quo! Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal.

  11. Joe

    Sounds shit but it could be worse! At least you’ve made some friends; imagine how it would be if you hadn’t?

    Plus you are pretty photogenic so at least you will have some great photos to show the grandkids when you’re done.

  12. Emotional journey indeed. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  13. Ken – Glad you appreciated my words Ken; thank you!