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Me At 25 – Reflections On The Year

birthday present pile with title text overlay

Today is my birthday. And as such, it’s got me all ponderous (more than usual) about life, achievements, failures, change, and more. To continue a now annual tradition after my Me at 23 and Me at 24 posts, it’s that time of year again when I’ll write a rather self-indulgent post all about the past 12 months of life as me. As I turn 26, here are the most notable moments, achievements, and challenges of me at 25.

I Took A Leap Of Faith

I moved abroad! I packed up my life in London and headed Down Under to Perth. This trust in myself and the universe was a big step for me. I’m a worrier, an anxious Annie, a doubting Thomas – but I believed that I could work hard to make it work. And I made it happen! 

Moving abroad was an event that I knew was imminent, and a long time coming. You know when a decision or occasion is looming over you, a cloud of mixed emotions that gets thicker and thicker and you know the thumping in your chest will turn to butterflies of excitement at the fact that it’s finally arrived? Moving abroad was one of these. I felt nervous but giddy. Curious yet apprehensive. All for good reasons – it’s turned out so much better than I had anticipated in many ways, and in other ways it’s been a real struggle (but that’s for a separate post).

sunset over perth city and swan river

There are few things in life that are perfect. And the dream move to a gorgeous new country with a long-term partner sounds like one of them! However, there are obstacles to overcome (ugh moving admin) which occasionally cast a shadow over all the goodness that comes with it.

Basically, living in Perth has been awesome so far. But I won’t sugar-coat it and pretend I haven’t had more than one meltdown panic about visas, life decisions, careers, and why the hell adulting is so complicated. BUT that doesn’t detract from the magical moments we’ve enjoyed. I’m slowly learning to take the rough with the smooth, and appreciating the small wins and micro-moments of joy that weave together to form a bigger, happier picture. Maybe next year I’ll have cracked it…

Perth city from Elizabeth Quay

I Moved In With My Partner

Closely related to the previous point, moving abroad came with the exciting step of living with my partner. I must admit, I thought it would be a lot more challenging that it has been (so far!). Over 4 months together and we’re not sick of each other just yet, quite the contrary in fact.

When you spend years in a long distance relationship and spend your annual leave catching long-haul flights just to see each other it’s expected that there will be some honeymoon-style period of being overly attached once you’re finally together permanently. Luckily, we’re still in that stage. I’d hate to think we’d ever get on each other’s nerves, but that’s probably all part of adjusting to life as a pair isn’t it?

We value our time together. It’s precious and the quality is now being caught up by quantity, so we’ll enjoy it while we can.

Despite my chronic worries about anything and everything, I stay cautiously optimistic about my relationship (such a sap, aren’t I?!). Let’s see how things compare 12 months from now. In the meantime I am happy being happy and happy trying to make my awesome Kiwi happy.

warped selfie in broken mirror

I Levelled Up My Fitness

Last year I wrote about how I started a journey to being healthier. This year, I went a step further and followed a fitness programme in an attempt to stick to a routine.

Last year’s goal was simply go to the gym and DO something. Anything!

This year’s goal is try to do something productive and improve. 

It’s not a very big achievement, but I’ve never in my life actually attempted to get fit. I realised just how poor my body strength actually is and after religiously following a plan by Chloe Ting for 35 days I’m already seeing and feeling a difference. It’s a long journey to re-train my brain away from lazy and unhealthy habits, but I’m excited to make it work as best as I can.

Moving abroad came with the hurdle of finding a new gym, but luckily an Anytime Fitness right around the corner was all I needed. It still took me a month to pluck up the courage and sign up though…

fitness mats on floor

To dispel any assumptions that I’m super motivated and fit now, I’ll remind you that today I ate 5 Tim Tams, a whole bag of popcorn, and a waffle on top of my usual meals. So yeah, I like my food and that ain’t about to change. Progress is one day at a time, right? However, I am spurred on by the insufferably healthy WA residents I am surrounded by in Perth.

I can’t say I love going to the gym or working out. Maybe one day that will change, but for now I understand it as a necessary counter-balance to my snack addiction. Anyone willing to share some tips on how to stay motivated and keep it up, send them my way!

Sunset over ocean in Perth

Learning To Like Myself

A step towards a fitter lifestyle has meant confronting a body-image hurdle. I would say my physique is distinctly average, but for some reason my brain doesn’t acknowledge that and I often beat myself up over my chubby arms and flabby thighs.

Working out has taught me that I need to trust my body, and to do that I need to like my body.

I have never had much motivation for fitness, and I really struggle with mustering the energy to get moving at times because of a negative attitude. But that doesn’t mean I don’t realise how important taking care of your body is. Sadly, I’m a rather impatient person and I find the slow progress of a fitness journey hard going. I go in a circular mentality of:

Want To Be Healthy – Try To Work Out – Realise I’m Unfit – Get Frustrated So Give Up – Repeat

This cycle has been my downfall. I tell myself it’s not worth working out because I’ll always dislike my appearance. But that, my friends, is mega damaging (ironically giving me an unhealthy attitude to complement my unhealthy body!).

Not that I think I need to look a certain way to like myself, mind. But I do reckon feeling confident in my own skin comes from understanding it. From pushing it, from making the muscles ache because they’re working hard. I want to achieve that mind-body connectedness that more athletic folk use to thrive.

This year I have tried to face myself in mental combat by listening to the kind external voices that tell me I’m doing a good job, that I can do it, that I AM doing it, and quash the silly voice that tells me I’m not. I’ll keep telling that voice to shush, and in the process hope to become a fitter, healthier body. That maybe will start to look it along the way, too.

woman overlooking ocean sunset

I Committed To A Meat-Free Lifestyle

I’ve toyed on and off with the idea of being a vegetarian for a number of years. I dislike cooking meat myself, so it’s always been something I would eat out or when cooked by someone else. I’d eat it in these situations partly because of a fear of appearing picky, feeling shy or that I’m being difficult, or just plain uncertainty about veg alternatives. But this past year I decided to make a conscious effort to completely make the switch and only choose the vegetarian options, and thus eliminate meat completely.

I’ll admit, I’m not perfect in this. I forget that marshmallows have gelatine, and only after necking an entire hot chocolate does it occur to me that it wasn’t veggie friendly… oops.

And I’m also not gonna beat myself up over it.

Finding The Balance

There are some grey areas and debates when it comes to deciding what’s vegetarian and what’s vegan, I’m finding it hard to navigate the field.

While I’m working on this change, it’s opened up a whole new world to me, for example I’m thinking about the dairy I buy too (self-confessed cheese lover over here) and the impact this has on both my health and the environment. But, ya know, I love cheese. And cake. And choccies. Plus everything else that’s bad for you and most definitely isn’t vegan friendly…

To get a bit more education on the matter, we attended the most amazing vegetarian cooking class with Salt & Company here in Perth. We learned so many awesome tips about cooking vegetarian food, and came away with full tummies and 3 new recipes! However, what surprised me was that in one recipe we used Parmesan cheese. I was always led to believe this hard cheese was not vegetarian-friendly. So now I’m just super confused… If anyone can enlighten me I’d be grateful (pun intended)!

For now, I don’t mind the odd slip up and mistake because this is very much a  journey that might take a while to completely switch. Now I have the confidence to say “I’m not eating meat” when eating out or being offered food, it’s getting a lot easier. But there’s still a way to go. Let’s see how it goes during my year of being 26!

fruit bowl on table

Does Eating Fake Meat Make Me A Bad Vegetarian?

I love burgers. So much. Finding the best veggie burgers has become somewhat of a challenge for us since making this change. We’ve tried all sorts: from Unrealco to Veggie Delights, to Beyond Meat to Quorn, we’ve had a lot of burgers. However, by far our favourite has to be Linda McCartney’s 1/4lb Vegetarian Mozzarella Burgers. They are SO GOOD. And yes, they have cheese in. Shoot me, ok?

I sometimes wonder if I’m being a bad vegetarian for eating fake meat or meat substitutes… But my argument is that I’m not really counting myself as a vegetarian, I’m just trying to do my best for mine and the planet’s health. If that means cutting meat, that’s what I’ll do.

In fact, I would consider our approach a plant-based diet:

“A diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants…A plant based-diet is not necessarily vegetarian.”

So you see, plant-based can be open for interpretation. This is mine: Trying my best, but allowed to make mistakes.

Sure, now I’m in the midst of veg-life, meat does gross me out more. But I wouldn’t rule out eating meat again to be honest. I don’t know, it’s all very conflicting but I will say that I don’t miss it at the moment. Probably because of all the great burgers I’m eating… shh don’t tell anyone!

pink wildflowers in spring garden

I Celebrated The People I Love Most

By the time this is published, I will have returned from a secret trip back to the UK to surprise my big brother for his 30th birthday. I really hope it went to plan… While a trip from Perth to London seems like a long way for a birthday, we’ve combined it with a trip to Croatia and work catch ups in my London office (who I still work for), and seeing friends and family so it’s been incredibly worthwhile!

Various other significant birthdays this year have meant many opportunities to celebrate those I care most about, and spend bonus time together creating happy memories.

I’m very lucky to have family who I also consider my friends, and I’m so privileged to enjoy their company and make them feel as loved as they deserve. Not every year is a milestone, but every year I get to learn a little more about these wonderful humans and enjoy their quirks even more. So, celebrating them and reminding them how much I appreciate their presence in my life is something I DEFINITELY want to continue doing in the days, months, and years to come!

Happy birthday candle on cake

I Ventured To New Places

Of course, Me at 25 was another year for travel. I chose to use my remaining time in the UK earlier in the year to travel short-haul distances to Marrakech for an extended weekend, and Copenhagen for a brief city break. It has always been the goal to utilise the geographical benefit of living in the UK, and I’m so glad that I had the chance to explore these two new places that have long been on my to-visit list.

Among other visits in my 25th year have included revisiting several fabulous UK cities like Bristol (my old home!), Edinburgh, and Leeds which was an absolute treat. I feel I spent the last 12 months thoroughly scratching that travel itch. The staycations around the UK are always a reminder of how much there is to see and do around my home country, and I love showing it off to my Kiwi partner too!

It was only a couple of weeks after my birthday last year that we visited Rhodes, which although it feels like a lifetime ago already I’m fondly remembering and mentally planning a return visit to more Greek Islands. Once this post is published I’ll have also returned from a visit to Croatia mere weeks ago – yet another wonderful opportunity to revel in Europe’s magnificent and varied destinations.

Clearly bookending my 25th year with travel has been a good choice!

passport stamp and boarding pass

Exploring In The Southern Hemisphere

Of course, the move to Perth has opened the door for even more adventure. We started with a short road trip to Kaikoura when I arrived back in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our visit was a spontaneous whirlwind which climaxed with a helicopter whale watching flight. That experience will be one of my favourites for a long time – it’s hard to beat moments that incredible!

Once in Western Australia, we’ve been familiarising ourselves with our new surroundings. Sunny beach trips and sunset drives have become our new normal, and I still get that familiar sense of worldly calm in these times just as I do when I travel to new places that I’m beginning to love. I can’t wait to keep seeing more of the city and beyond!

Travel is truly the bug that can’t be cured. And I’m so grateful to have the chance to see so much of the world, it is a fortune and this privilege is never overlooked.

To travel as a couple is quality time that we value very deeply. Wandering through historic old towns hand in hand, paddling along the beach, and climbing mountains together are my favourite memories. These moments form the stories that will be passed on to loved ones for years. The antics and adventures enjoyed through travel are nourishing for the soul, I would implore everyone to take the time when possible to take time off, and ENJOY IT no matter where you are.

Couple take selfie in front of Perth city

I Learned

It goes without saying that we learn new things every year, if not every day. But Me at 25 was a year where I took time to teach myself about photography and blogging in particular. I wanted to educate myself on topics that interest me, and it seemed the right time to teach myself now that I’ve left studying behind 4 years ago and finally finding hobbies that I’m passionate about!

Last year I wrote that I explored these new passions, and it seems fitting that 12 months on I’m developing those interests into skills. I hope I can continue to learn more moving forward.

Learning makes way for progress, which can lead to positive change. I’ve always been nervous of change that I can’t control, but I’m learning to be ok with it. With so much change this year, you’d think I’d be a bit more open to adaptability!

Additionally, I’m trying to learn more about the people I’m closest to. I want to learn about their stories and their goals. I want to understand them and be better for them by anticipating their needs and supporting their wishes. There’s always so much to learn, and as we grow and develop there is even more to discover!

typing at laptop with notepad

I Thought About What I Want In Life

With all this moving and personal progress came a million panics and moments of doubt about what the future looks like. While having a weekly stress sesh is not fun for anyone, it has forced me to consider what I want out of life, where that will be, and how I can achieve that.

Mid-20s is still very young, but it’s definitely a turning point. Going from early to mid to late of anything is scary regardless, and your 20s is no different.

Where do I want to be in 5 years? What do I want my life to look like? What impact do I want to have on others? These are all things I’ve been considering and definitely over-thinking. 

In short, I want to be happy, and I want to do something with a good purpose.

I haven’t quite figured out what that means just yet, but I’ll work on it.

woman stares at reflection in art exhibit

Met at 25 – How Does It Compare?

My 25th rotation around the Sun has been a memorable one, but is it the best yet? I wouldn’t necessarily say so. With immense highs (moving!) came a lot of stress and worry. But that’s to be expected, nothing is easy breezy or without a few challenges.

As a generally introspective person, I’m trying to use that as a tool for self-improvement. What did I learn and what can I do better? It’s a hard thing to do regularly, because life ticks along regardless. But I’m trying.

So I would say that 25 was a year of revelations, changes, positivity, and movements. Some have been exciting, others demanding. This year has truly been a melting pot of emotions, and I’m pretty chuffed to have come out the other side feeling like a better Suzy.

happy birthday wrapping paper

What’s The Goal For Next Year?

Without committing to anything, I want to look back on my 26th year and see progress. Me at 25 showed me that I can take control of my future, and I will continue to do that in the next year.

So, happy birthday to me. I have no idea what I’ll do to celebrate, but I imagine it will involve food. I’m getting far too old these days to make a fuss!

Bring on 26!

 

How do you mark your birthday? What would you do to remember your past year?

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    cassiethehag
    10/12/2019 at 7:21 am

    Loved reading this and hope you had a wonderful birthday. You have such an intelligent and articulate way of looking at things. Thank you for a great read and can’t wait to follow your 26th year! Xx

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/13/2019 at 3:13 am

      Oh thank you so much Cassie, I really appreciate your kind comment! I did indeed have a fab day, made even better by some sunny Aussie weather! ??

  • Reply
    kerry
    10/19/2019 at 3:16 pm

    Ahhh Suzy I loved reading this. You have had a real kick butt year! Blooming well done. I have to say as well, I am vegan and if there is a vegan burger on the menu, you can bet your entire annual salary that I will be having it hahaha! I can not get enough of them. far too many people want to label and be all righteous about it all but as long as you are doing your best, no one should judge. Well done for going meat free xxx

    • Reply
      suzystories
      10/20/2019 at 12:23 pm

      Ohhh thank you soo much Kerry I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it! haha Nice to know I’m not the only burger fiend… I actually really enjoy finding new ones I just wish they were a bit more exotic with the flavours sometimes! Thank youuu long way to go still but getting there bit by bit ??

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