As a travel blogger I am often flooded with messages from people saying "You have a great life" or "Is there anything you can't do". While, it is always very flattering I feel it's time to share that just two years ago my life hit rock bottom.
The Ten Year Plan
I had it all planned out. I would be married at 27, start a family at 28. I would have a big house and a beautiful Audi in the drive. I would have a successful career and wear a power suit and have perfectly manicured nails. At least that's how I saw myself at the age of 18. It was my ten year plan and I was focused on chasing all of these warped measures of success.
Fast forward ten years. The only box I had ticked was the big house, but that the big house was accompanied by an even bigger mortgage and negative equity. I was so far away from being married, instead I was clinging to a relationship that made us both deeply unhappy, but I couldn't leave. I was afraid. Afraid of being single, afraid of being alone, afraid of what people might think, afraid that I might never meet another person who would accept me. In terms of my career I was working in an entry level job that I despised. Having recently completed my Master's degree and pouring all of my savings into tuition, I had no choice but to take on every shift that I could. I didn't wear a power suit to work. Instead I wore a tracksuit or jeans. I won't even mention the state of my nails, because grooming was a luxury I couldn't afford. The years of neglect and unhappiness had taken its toll and I was overweight and under stimulated. Children were a no-go area since I had sworn that I would never bring a baby into the world while I was so unhappy. What about the Audi you ask? Well, I couldn't even drive.
I finally realised with the help of a friend that I was the creator of my destiny. So one step at a time I began to pick up the pieces of my life.
1. Taking a leap of faith
I had to do something. I had to change my entire life in one foul swoop. and walk away from my life. I had the heart breaking conversation and I left my relationship of 9 years. I walked away from the house that I thought I would raise my children in and moved into my parent's box room. Suddenly, I realised that I had nothing to show for the last decade of my life other than a suitcase of clothes. A suitcase of plus sized clothes.
It was tough. I had to admit to myself that I had been on the wrong path and I had walked so far down that path that I had almost forgotten the way out. What followed was a frenzied attempt to pretend everything was wonderful. "Celebrating" my new found freedom by drinking every night for a fortnight. But the party couldn't go on. All of the people who had rallied around me slowly eased back into their own lives and then there was just me. Just little old me, in my parents box room with my suitcase full of plus sized clothes and turning 29 years of age.
I realised that it wasn't enough to simply walk away from unhappiness. Happiness is something that you have to make for yourself. I decided first to start with myself.
2. Down-sizing Me
I then started to work on reducing the size of the clothes in that suitcase. The years of neglect on my mind and body had rendered me unfit, unhealthy and unattractive. So I contacted a personal trainer. I was so nervous and unfit but Michael from Bodycoach helped me to overcome all of my fears and body issues. I lost 12 kilos and began to feel confident again. I started to do things for myself again. I took a course on how to do my own make-up and I finally felt comfortable in buying new clothes and making the most of my appearance.
3. Getting out of my comfort zone
I started to date and I won't lie to you this was pretty terrifying. I had never really dated before and I didn't even know what people did on dates! I met some really lovely people and some not so nice. Some dated me for weeks and never called again, some told me I was fat and some verbally abused me. Before I would have let this get to me but the New Clair was stronger than that.
4. Broadening my Horizons
Next I felt an overwhelming quest for adventure. I began to travel at every available opportunity. I travelled with friends and I travelled solo. I made my mind up where I wanted to go and I used all of my free time travelling to 12 countries and 4 continents in 12 months. Travelling made me feel alive again. I realised that I was far more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for. I danced salsa, drank Mojitos and smoked cigars in Cuba. I watched a bollywood movie, saw the Taj Mahal, crashed a wedding, survived a sleeper train and sailed on the Ganges in India. I saw the Northern Lights in Iceland. I haggled in the Souks in Morocco. Above all of this I fell in love on the beach in Latvia.
My blog was created to tell my story and this has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. By continuing to push myself out of my comfort zone I have experienced more in the last 2 years alone, than in the decade before. I am finally learning to drive and have signed up for a comedy improv class. I will turn 30 fitter, healthier and happier than I was when I turned 21. It feels hard to believe that just 2 years ago I felt like my whole World had fallen apart. To anyone who is reading and feels this way, just know that you are the creators of your own happiness. Only you can change and direct your life in the way you want.
This is the challenge that shaped me.