Just over a year ago, I jetted off to Australia. Deciding to spend a year of your degree on the other side of the world is a decision that sensible people would spend more than a couple of days thinking about. Yes, that decision probably shouldn’t have been one made in haste, in a time of stress, and by someone who was desperately seeking a way out. However, I am tremendously happy that I did. Now that I have come home (when football didn’t *cries*), here’s an emotional spiel on some of the growing I had to do. You’ve been warned!

As glad as I am that it drove me to going on a year abroad, my second year of university was not easy. But I had to just get through it. High amounts of stress, as well as the emotions of hopelessness and frustration, can suddenly give you the strength and confidence to not only get through it, but to pave your own escape route. That strength gave me that agency to consider the possibility of a place where I would recharge and attempt to sort my life out. However, I don’t want this post to be about the stressful events and tensions that made running away from them seem very desirable. They do not define me. As I’ve got older, I have realised that they gradually decrease in importance as you begin to widen your horizons and allow greater experiences to form a greater chapter in your book of life.

I love a good holiday – that chance to unwind and immerse yourself in a new surrounding is wonderful. Of course, there are less dramatic ways of achieving this than flying to Australia for a year, though I cannot explain how the coin of my emotions was flipped when I heard about Monash. For as long as I can remember, I have never really possessed enough confidence to go for opportunities or to REALLY leave my comfort zone. I really had to be pushed to do anything adventurous.

As soon as I found myself away my strongest support network, I had to set up my own support networks and craft a life for myself that felt very independent from the moment it started. If you told 2nd year me that I’d be taking units in modern history (sorry Classics, see you this year), with the odd break hiking in an Australian national park or navigating around Asia for 7 weeks, I’d call you a right lunatic. In Australia, I really wanted to make the most of my experience. I had to stop listening to that silly voice in my head telling me I was better off having more of the same. I have learned to not take myself too seriously and to just enjoy myself. That way, I learned more about what makes me tick and what I really  want out of life. Sometimes you just need that push, and a lot of the time it has to come from within you. In Melbourne, I threw myself into a life with friends and experiences that have made me feel the happiest I’ve ever felt. I miss them dearly, but I have a feeling they will be a part of my life for a long time.

Yet, one of my biggest shortcomings with confidence has always been my perpetual lack of self-assurance. More than the fear of the new, it was the inability to have confidence in myself which stopped me from really going for things. I never really felt good enough,  and I used to feel like I wasn’t the best fit for anything or anyone. I got used to feeling insecure and I knew that needed to change. Now, I am working towards feeling good and brave enough to go for whatever I set my heart on. If I truly want anything then I am just gonna have to go out and get it, and I better believe that I deserve it. One year on, I am looking forward to completing my Classical Civilisation degree and seeing where the world of work can take me. I cannot wait to pave my way through what’s to come, however bizarre, crazy or magical it may be.

In sum…

The past year has been one of my best, and I have learned so much about myself. I am now more enlightened about the girl that embarked on that break she so desperately needed, as well as the one who came out the other side braver, happier and wiser. The latter of those developments will be proven or discounted in the next year, but there’s only one way to find that out.

Life, bring it on!

From Sophia with Love x