Yesterday I was clever- I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise- I am changing myself. The wound is the place where light enters you. Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion. Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. Although the road is never ending, take a step and keep walking. Do not look fearfully into the distance. On this path, let the heart be your guide for the body is full of hesitant anxiety. Let yourself be silently drawn to the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. When you do things from your soul, you feel a river of joy within you. Dance when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance, in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free. Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being. If the foot of the trees were not tied to the Earth, they would be pursuing me, for I have grown so much that I am the envy of the Gardens. When the light returns to its source, it takes nothing from what it has illuminated. This is love, to fly towards a secret sky. To cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First, to let go of life. Second, to take a step without feet.
→ Begin driving lessons and get my learners
Technically, it wouldn’t be fair to say I didn’t follow through with this goal. Back in February of last year, I buckled down and began practicing for my theory learners test. I used an app called The Learners Test Practice DKT which offers the most advanced test system as well as a good four hundred up to-date questions. There’s a progress monitor which saves the result of each question answered on top of results from tests you previously took and passed or failed. The questions are selected using an algorithm taking into account your latest scores and the questions that you need to practice more.
When it comes to the real deal, there’s very little margin for error. You’re allowed two mistakes and then it’s an automatic fail. There’s sixty or so questions to answer, all of which fall within ten categories, those being: general knowledge, alcohol and drugs, fatigue and defensive driving, intersections, traffic lights and lanes, negligent driving, pedestrians, seat belts and restraints, speed limits and traffic signs. I did well with the common sense sections but struggled to understand how right of way works. When the time came in March, I went down to my local Roads and Maritime service, for my fellow Australians, and passed with flying colours. Almost. I got a single question wrong but that didn’t bother me too much. The main thing was that it didn’t affect the overall outcome and cause me to re sit the exam. They took my picture, mailed me my licence and gave me my learner plates.
I’m embarrassed to say that they haven’t seen the light of day or even emerged from my drawer. Don’t get me wrong- when it comes down to it, I enjoy driving. I like being in control behind the wheel. The cruisey feeling you get on the road speaks to utter freedom. It can be blissful but I’ve come to a standstill at this point. I currently have about seventeen logbook hours. I’ve never driven without an instructor. The system here in Australia is set up to give you three driving hours to every one spent with an instructor. That makes up the bulk of what I can say I’ve done. I closed myself off to the potential of making further progress after an incident with my driving instructor. We’d turned onto the motorway, the road slick with rain. I was going around a bend when he snaked his hand up my thigh and told me that I was a good girl. I didn’t want to crash the car and get in an accident so left this unacknowledged. The lesson previous, he’d asked me how old my brother is and how religious my dad is, presumably to work out who would come for him if he tried anything. Go figure. Long story short, I reported the incident to the police but heard nothing back. Recently, he was picking up a new student outside of my apartment complex, so it’s safe to say that his business is still operational and there was likely no investigation!
→ Seek external support
I’ll be honest and say that I’m trying my hardest to work out what this looks like for me. Does external support mean opening up more to my loved ones and those who have my best interests at heart? Does it look like learning to express my feelings more effectively? Does it look like making friends who have been in similar positions to me and can empathise instead of just sympathising? I’ve always felt that it’s better to be understood than to be pitied. I am not a lost case and don’t need fixing- I just need to be approached with tact, sensitivity and some knowledge of the events that shaped me. I don’t tend to have these deep and meaningfuls with family members as everything feels too close to home. They can’t offer advice or listen to me from an unbiased and uncoloured viewpoint. People in your inner circle tend to be highly subjective and through no fault of their own. So, it begs the question- who does one go to? I broach heavier topics with close friends or my boyfriend as they are my chosen family. Handpicked. They know me as I present myself and I’m not around them twenty four seven. I’ve always that people know you in different ways and see sides that another might not. It all depends on the relationship. At the same time, I don’t feel the need to speak to a therapist. It just seems pitiful to pay another person who is just as human as I am -with the same flesh and blood struggles- to listen to me talk about all that’s gone wrong. I know I’d feel more alone sitting in a cold, clinical space with somebody who has no attachment to me and couldn’t pick me from a lineup. Not that I’d ever want to be in that position anyway!
→ Find more like minded friends
Throughout my last two years in High School, I stuck with the same friend group and did form genuine connections. I just didn’t branch out as much as I felt I should have. I did have the odd day out here and there, spending the day with a few of my favourite people, but barely. This was limited. On the days I did take the initiative to make plans, it paid off. Towards the end of the year, I met a friend at a local cafe, Cocos Cubanos. We ordered chicken skewers with an incredible yoghurt dip and halloumi fries. Upon my suggestion, two fruity mocktails as well. It was a winner of a lunch and I’m still itching to go back- and see friends again. Now that I’m well into the summer holidays, there’s really no better time than the present. Having a nice long chat where you lay all your cards on the table and just speak your truth is so refreshing. I want to be surrounded by people who know the real me and take me for who I am, whilst still encouraging my growth and betterment. My next set of friends and acquaintances will come as I start college- the thought is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. This is all I’ve ever wanted. The chance to mix and mingle with people who are on my level and have the same bright hopes and plans for the future. Fellow creatives and content creators in the flesh, not just on a base online level. At the same time, with my limitations, I wonder if they’ll accept me or be too hung up on the fact that I’m on the younger side. I have a lot to offer to the right people and believe I deserve the chance to make a good, lasting impression.
→ Start drinking green tea again
A couple of years ago I began drinking herbal teas as a way to supplement healthy weight loss. Green tea, Peppermint, Strawberry and Elderberry- the like. I tend to stick to Twinings as they have a good everyday range but nothing can beat the simple luxury of a Tea2 pack, brewed to perfection in one of the many gorgeous tea sets they have. While I only got back into the habit of drinking herbal and loose leaf tea towards the later part of last year, I can see the difference they have on me and am keen to continue this effect. There are many known benefits, a couple being that it can help you unwind, boost your immune system, reduce pain and soreness, prevent chronic disease, improve your digestive system and stimulate brain function, all whilst being calorie free. It’s the perfect flush for your system, making sure that you are rid of toxins and excess water weight, which can lead to bloating and general discomfort. I plan to carry this former goal into the New Year and sip mindfully as I read a book, colour or watch the skyline.
→ Grow my platforms and work with more brands
My tentative goal last year was to reach ten thousand followers on Instagram but I no longer find this realistic. I wonder just how much time and effort you’d need to dedicate to social media in order to see those crazy heights of growth. I’ve noticed that what matters most is the engagement you put out, closely followed by the content you post. If you’re essentially a ghost on your social platforms and don’t interact with others or have a good scroll now and then, the algorithm will see that you pay for your transgressions. Part of the reason that Instagram brings me such joy is that I keep my consumption of its’ content to a minimum. I post three times a week, share stories when I feel called to, keep up with my messages and like the posts that pop up on my feed. It would feel highly unnatural to sit down and feel as if I’m in a race with time, wanting to beat the clock and flick through as many posts as possible, liking each one and commenting something subpar. I believe in organic growth and, to me, this extends to my behaviour surrounding social media. I’m not going to spend exorbitant amounts of time on the app in the hopes of a good return. I’m just going to continue presenting others with the highs and lows of my life and sharing beautiful moments that deserve pride of place on my feed. I’m going to continue sharing pictures in the same outfit or from the same photoshoot because it brings me joy and I just can’t choose. I’m also going to continue supporting the gals and guys in the engagement groups I’m a part of because we’re all in this together.
When it comes to blogging, I saw the biggest difference in how my readers responded once I began putting out consistent, quality content that gave back. With each post, my aim is to answer your questions, share a lesson or teachable moment, encourage overall wellness and have my blog be a space where the lighter, joyous side of life is amplified. I’ve reworked older posts that I felt were still worth sharing, took extra care to respond to comments and feedback, curated my reader, analysed my statistics and did a massive rebrand of my site to make it professional, visually pleasing, easier to navigate, more user friendly and interactive. A content creator who I look up to and admire greatly, Haley Ivers, recently had her website rebranded and it’s gorgeous on a clean minimalistic level. Beyond that, it’s so much fun. There is a gallery of her pictures which you can move around. Her blog posts are displayed with their feature image greyed out until you swipe your cursor over it, the picture a hazy gradient of colour. Overall, twenty twenty was a very successful year growth wise and I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve made happen.
I grew my Instagram following from three thousand, seven hundred and sixty six followers in January to four thousand, three hundred and sixty one followers as of now. While my numbers didn’t rise too significantly, I saw a lot of success in working with brands. I broke out of my comfort zone and sent off those important emails and messages. A great many went unacknowledged and I didn’t receive a response where I thought I would. It was discouraging at times but left me with a much greater appreciation of the brands that gave me a chance. I felt very driven and inspired to complete work for them at a high level. I partnered with a total of nineteen brands, some of which saw me as dedicated and hardworking enough to be their go to influencer for new product launches and other similar opportunities. My area of focus is skincare, beauty and home decor and they make up the bulk of the collaborations I’ve been offered. I’ve also worked with Make Muse, a female led online and print magazine that offers smart content. None of those silly gossip columns you find in magazines. They have sections for wellness, beauty, politics, activism, mental health, creative writing, poetry and more. That’s definitely a standout partnership for me as it was so up my alley!
Another collaboration I thoroughly enjoyed was with DiveThru, a guided journaling app. They ran a thirty day challenge where I’d reflect on a set prompt and discuss my experience with my Instagram audience. I’ve also worked with a couple of wall art and photo printing brands as I enjoy interior design and home decorating. Other than that, just skincare, hair masks, clothing and the like. I’m hoping to expand my reach this year and work with fine jewellery brands and ethical clothing boutiques. As you likely know, I don’t shop fast fashion and these brands make up the majority of collaborations on offer. Ethical boutiques want to work with influencers with a bigger reaching and older audience. Most teens aren’t shopping in these places after all!
I definitely saw the fruits of my efforts when it came to blogging. In Twenty Nineteen I received six thousand, nine hundred views with three thousand visitors and forty two published posts. Last year, these numbers soared and I surpassed a thousand followers! I received sixteen thousand, three hundred views with six thousand, eight hundred visitors and a hundred and seven published posts.
→ Be present
Twenty Twenty offered up nothing if not a lot of time for us to journey within and get to know ourselves, our families and the ins and outs of our days. It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing, falsely, that we are knowledgeable to the point that a little ignorance can’t hurt. If there’s anything I know to be true now though, it’s that anybody and everybody, no matter their age, race or social standing, can teach us something. I don’t want to spend my days in a fog with a muddled mind and wary, half open eyes. I want to yearn for the present and for the future, for this day and for the next. For what’s to come and what lies in front of me, waiting. I want to be open to receiving, to shedding the suffocating layers of what I think I know in exchange for the eagerness to relearn. I want it to be known that I am willing and mature enough to show up for a challenge. That I’m not too busy for a game of Monopoly or a book reading in a world where nothing but this split second is guaranteed.
→ Start thinking about tafe courses for twenty twenty one
In hindsight, God’s divine timing saw to it that I’d leave school at just the right time. I’m Seventeen and should technically be graduating high school this year. I would’ve had my first term of Year Twelve at the end of last year. Back when I was in Year Nine, three years ago, I got quite sick and had to be hospitalised for a while. I was worried about falling behind in school and didn’t want to place unnecessary pressure on myself so repeated Year Nine in a new all girls school. At the private school I’d attended for majority of my High School years, there were graded classes. My perfectionistic tendencies came out and really took a toll on my mental health. My performance always felt average compared to some of the high achievers. I just felt ordinary. I’d always planned to go to tafe because traditional school doesn’t sit well with me. I end up going off on an tangent, ranting in yet another impassioned way about the system and it’s quelling of creativity.
I’ve always wanted to pursue design, something that lights my very heart and soul on fire. Had I been on track and completed Year Ten two years ago, as I should have, the school leavers age would have changed and I’d be stuck doing Year Eleven which I didn’t want to do. Then, upon turning Seventeen, which should’ve been at the end of Year Eleven, I’d be able to leave. Instead, I finished Year Ten and basically got to relax and not worry about senior years. I’d say I’ve spent the last while biding my time and not taking studies too seriously in the detrimental ways I used to. Here I was thinking I’d have started thinking about tafe courses or even been accepted into one. Everything turned out perfectly. I found out in English class that once you graduate, you have the equivalent of a Certificate Two qualification. Instead, I’ll be finishing with a Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration in a year’s time, then I’ll consider going for my bachelor’s degree, which will take three years.