You may think that this is just a photo of some drinks on a table, a holiday snap….but this moment, taken a year ago today actually captures a lot.
At the point of its capture I’d just accomplished countless firsts, the most notable of which was getting on a plane, travelling somewhere fairly far away and doing it alone.
Little did I know how unnecessary the anxiety in the build up, which almost resulted in me “missing my departure” on purpose, was. I hadn’t wanted to go. I’d booked the trip knowing what it involved, at the cost of a final nail in the coffin of a relationship that was already on the rocks – selfish some may say but after re-reading this, I can’t hold a regret, maybe just an apology.
Unbelievably before heading off I’d never travelled alone, never knew how to read a map, worried excessively about lack of control, hated the idea of my own company and struggled to relax.
I didn’t just take this photo for Instagram or for Facebook – in fact I don’t think I ever posted it. I actually took it so I could relive the feeling of pride I felt having conquered some of those fears I’d faced head on.
What you can’t see in the picture is the smile on my face. But it isn’t just a smile of joy, it’s a nervous smile of what was yet to come. I’d already had my first night in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, I’d managed to get around ok even with the language barrier and I was sat planning my next move.
That was the problem, I didn’t have one.
I knew I was set to meet a group of people in less than two days, get on a minibus and drive across Cambodia right through to Vietnam but I didn’t want to think of that yet.
I have my nervous smile to thank for the plans which I eventually made. The waitress befriended me, admittedly I cannot remember her name, but she gave me some great advice about places to avoid as a young woman, tips for a cheaper tuk tuk and served some great food and beer.
It’s odd now looking back thinking of how I went on to attend a Muay Thai tournament, and sat with the locals – much to my mum’s protesting at the fact I was endangering myself – truth be told, it wasn’t nearly as difficult to find as I’d expected, there were plenty of tourists around (albeit in the more expensive seats) and the locals even showed me how to put on my first bet!
I walked a hell of a lot, got lost even more but discovered a side of myself that actually could cope with a tackle a fear of the unknown pretty well, although it was exhausting!
A year on…
A year later I’m still not quite perfect at orienteering, I’m now slowly letting others take the reigns and organise things and I’m actually pretty much at my most comfortable when it’s just me, slowly finding my places of sanctuary and mindfulness – the kitchen and Asia seeming to be two of them!
I didn’t think I had this much perspective until I came across this photo in my phone once again.
There’s still a way to go, nobody’s perfect but nurturing my imperfections into something I hope will become more beautiful and proud of is all part of the pain and progress.
I can’t wait to see what lessons, firsts and transformations the next 12 months bring.