Unforgettables

I’m always seeing, hearing or reading things that go in one ear and out the other, as if I’ve subconsciously decided they weren’t valuable enough to retain. But every now and then I stumble across something unforgettable. We don’t always need to follow a map to find treasure. It might be a book or a person or an experience, that for some reason you store at the front of your mind, and it shapes you.

Here are a few of my unforgettables:

images

  1. The Last Lecture; This is a book written by Randy Pausch that I think about all the time, despite having read it almost ten years ago. I’ve owned a copy three times, and given every one away to spread the brilliance and enlighten somebody else. Randy writes about his life sentence with cancer and what is really valuable in his life, but more importantly what really isn’t important. Like spilling wine on a nice carpet or drawing on the walls. We can get so stressed about the little things, and material things, which are actually pretty irrelevant at the end of the day. I think about his book when I make mistakes and orchestrate a pity party to grieve them, when I should be taking the lesson and moving forwards. The book shaped my priorities, like spending money on things that really mean something to me or to one of my friends. I don’t compare the cost against things I consider immeasurable. And I certainly don’t cry over things I can’t change. When I put a dent in my car this year, I didn’t make a fuss at all because it had already happened, all I could do was laugh. It wasn’t the end of the world so I didn’t allow myself to pretend that it was. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just the way we play the hand.” – Randy Pausch

11082300_10153186252708249_5736850503483587457_o


2. Laura-Grace Tarpley; I met a tall, perky American girl last year at work. She’s academic, hilarious and kind-natured. Laura is one of those people you never let go of, because they are just too special. We challenge each other in conversation, although generally agree on everything too – like how great Taylor Swift is. And we are always honest with each other, even when the truth isn’t pretty and gentle. She is living a completely different life to me, but our values are aligned. Boldly, Laura spent a year in New Zealand – alone, after completing her degree, and upholds the longest long-distance relationship that I have ever heard of. She gets me and I can always turn to her for support, advice, a hug or a reality-check. 

fa7aae8190b1864a34049bcf1b14a5c7


3. My favourite quote; There are two wolves fighting inside all of us, one is anger, jealously, greed and the other is love, truth and kindness. The victor is the one we feed. I think about this when I’m at moral crossroads, and it helps me to be the best person I can be, the best version of Jade by feeding the right wolf.


4. ‘Fuck yes or no’ article by Mark Manson; You have to excuse the language in the title, but the article is unbelievably true. It’s about dating but it applies to other aspects of life too. The lead premise is; ‘why would you want to be with someone who is not excited to be with you?’ It has dictated all of my decisions regarding relationships, choosing not to be with people that I’m not 110% sure about. If you don’t know – the answer is no. Relationships and friendships swing both ways, so there’s no point pouring effort into someone that isn’t going to blink twice. Value yourself enough to not go on sale. ‘The entrepreneur Derek Sivers once said, “If I’m not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, then I say no.” It served him well in the business world and now I’d like to apply it to the dating world.’ – Mark Manson.


5. Nelson Lakes alpine tramp; My first alpine tramp in New Zealand was full of physical challenges, porridge and rewarding views. After climbing for hours at a time, you really appreciate the view from the top of a mountain, because you’re running on endorphins and you earned it. It was the longest I have ever spent migrating from hut-to-hut in New Zealand’s outback and changed my perspective of a landscape I hadn’t fully explored. I had the best experience of my life and it cost next-to-nothing. After that adventure I can honestly say I’d still be content if I never left New Zealand again.

1396852_10203478478456006_6278986651206754329_o

.

There is no place like home

I have spent most of my life waiting to move out of New Zealand, but last year that changed. I grasped why people spend most of their lives wanting to move here. The grass is always greener on the other side, right? But not when it comes to Aotearoa. The grass is literally greener here.

During an eight-day tramp in Nelson Lakes I was enlightened by the natural beauty of my South-Pacific home. I trudged through knee-deep snow, looking down on the clouds and swam in the clearest lake in the world – Blue Lake. I summited Mt Angelus to watch the sunrise and stayed in a different hut each night. I absolutely fell in love with New Zealand despite having lived here my entire life.

10649527_10203478463535633_7912402318851515308_n

This year I invested time into really getting to know New Zealand. It’s like they say: don’t get to know someone else’s country before getting to know your own. We all get travel-envy watching our friends post photos of foreign utopias but if you take time to look at a tourist’s photos of New Zealand, they’re pretty mind-blowing. Why shut our eyes to the beauty of our own backyard? It’s a popular destination for a reason.

Kiwis dismiss New Zealand as if it’s charm doesn’t apply to us because we grew up here and we’re used to it. My mother moved here from the UK during her 20s, and never left. She has always been passionate about the country she chose rather than the one she inherited by default. I’d notice her appreciating the forest or the lake more than I did, because I was so accustomed to it. My Dad is no different, taking the long way around town every time we left the house just to drive by the lake with It’s  mountainous backdrop. Growing up in Taupo was a blessing. 

On a trip to Queenstown last week, my friend and I looked out onto the town centre from a café window. My friend commented, “We could be in the Swiss Alps right now.” I agreed, “or Canada.”  But the point is that we didn’t need to leave New Zealand to admire the way snow-capped mountains frame the village.

10454461_10203478467895742_732613451402640000_n

It’s not just the immaculate scenery and our ‘clean, green’ brand that makes New Zealand such a great place. We are distinctively friendly and laid-back. It’s in our nature – we’re cool, we’re active, we’re nice.

New Zealand is being recognised more and more internationally. Qualifications gained here are increasingly transferable because our education system is credible across the border. Even our accent is more widely accepted, allowing broadcasters to relax into it rather than imitating a broader American voice. We’re more proud to ‘be ourselves’ and it’s making a difference. The flag debate is just another way that kiwis want to express our unique identity on the international stage. New Zealand opportunities don’t even have the same ceiling that they used to, being geographically detached from the rest of the world. Globalisation fixed that, it’s 2015 and you can work for anyone, anywhere.

It might not seem exotic to holiday in your own country, but we live in one of the most amazing places in the world. Don’t take it for granted – It took me 21 years to turn to my Mum and say “I get it.”

Where the wind takes you 

So next year is approaching and I haven’t planned that far.

After four years of financial and academic input, and an output of financial deficit and desk-ready skills, I’ll knock on the door of the journalism industry. I like to think that I’ll buy a plane ticket and ‘let go’ in Ibiza – but I won’t. Decorating my Instagram account has steadily drifted down my priority list.

I want to use the momentum I’m accumulating to drive my career outside of the restaurant I work at. I want to graduate from being a student and a waitress and develop a brand under my name. I will have four tertiary qualifications which are the platform that I have been building for myself to stand on, to stand out.

I like everything so it is an understatement to say that I’m easily pleased. I value happiness the same way most people value monetary wealth. My passions are across the board – I could be a hiking guide in my stripped rainbow polyprops or a pencil-skirted journalist…you name it. I’d be completely content with either end of the occupational spectrum.

IMG_0126   IMG_0135-0

I’ll most likely start out working for a provincial newspaper, and happily. If money was not an object I would be writing anyway. I’m excited and impatient waiting for next year to arrive, to work within the 40 hours I am studying instead of trying to work around them. I am so interested in learning the skills that my journalism course coaches me through, but I am also ready to stop feeding a mountain of debt and start appeasing it.

I am in such a transitional phase of my life, making it hard not to entertain the different paths it may take. I have few inhibitions about next year so anything could happen. I could move city, sure, but I could also move country. I could get a job in a totally different field than I expected. I could love it, but I could hate it. I am open to wherever the wind takes me.

As a natural planner (the list and label advocate) I’m unsettled by not physically being able to plan for anything past March. The best plan I managed was a coloured mind-map of my personal life goals. But sometimes long-term planning is so redundant because life just happens. It just happens. Whether you plan for it or not.

I have a lot to wade through this year before I shed the title of a student. All I can do is keep window-shopping for ‘real jobs’ while I study to obtain prerequisites for the ‘real jobs.’ Who knows where I’ll end up.

The harder you work, the luckier you get

“The harder you work the luckier you get.” – Gary Player

People tell me I’m lucky every day, whether it’s because I’m happy or things seem to be going well for me or I look healthy. The thing is, I’m not lucky – I just work really hard. Sometimes I’m smiling because I got out of bed at some absurd hour and went for a run and the endorphins are kicking in. Sometimes I’m swimming with the current because I went out of my way to further my career and really reached for an opportunity. And maybe I look healthy because I’m conscious of my diet and workout every day. People are always discounting the efforts of others with the term ‘luck,’ and are more often than not using it as an umbrella of an excuse to explain their lack of it. To me luck is drive, putting yourself out there, taking a risk and making brave decisions. Not always, but sometimes.

After just one year of university, I moved against my academic instincts and put my degree on hold for six months. I genuinely knew that i would finish it but I didn’t know exactly when. Leaving something incomplete is just not in my nature. My Dad misinterpreted my decision and we fell out but my Mum couldn’t have understood more.

It was a pretty bold decision for me and I fretted endlessly about it. Dad fed my doubts and Mum fed my confidence. I worked three jobs at one point until I was able to cover the cost of my grand idea. I flew to England first where I was met with my beautiful family. I went bridal-gown shopping with my cousin Claire before busing from Turkey to Croatia with a group of wonderful strangers. I explored Ireland with one of my best friends and was honored by speaking Claire’s wedding. I had the most beautiful, educating and most frightening experience of my life.
994750_10200565074542729_1945447383_n1119939_10200987714148455_1470590764_o
I returned to Wellington in time for second semester and jumped straight back into studying. I put everything into it and studied tirelessly. My grades rose drastically as I worked hard to complete my degree in the same time-frame that I would have without a break – and I did.
As I re-capped the trip, my friends pronounced me ‘lucky,’ and I laughed. As I second-guessed myself, my investment and pulled my hair out while flying to Istanbul completely alone I did not feel lucky. The decisions I made were trying and the long hours at work were exhausting.
I work really hard in all aspects of my life, and I get called lucky all the time. It’s dismissive and discounts a lot of what I do on a daily basis like ingraining good habits and taking small steps toward big goals. Every morning I push past my body’s reluctance, drag myself to the kitchen and instinctively search for coffee. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.
Those who think people like me are lucky are blissfully naive, and will one day realise that anyone can buy a plane ticket and instagram their favourite parts of Greece. But luck won’t get you there.

Onwards and Upwards

Last week I graduated from Victoria University. I wore the academic regalia and walked across the stage with the other graduates. Aside from resembling a regular day at Hogwarts, the ceremony was very,Jade's grad very special.

I was almost tearful as I entered the hall, after leaving my family to stand in alphabetical order in a separate room. It drew on feelings that I didn’t realize I felt about my degree. The audience applauded us for the long nights and the midnight snacks. The professors dressed in royal colors on stage were there to recognize what we had accomplished and it occurred to me for the first time that I had accomplished something. And we were here to celebrate that.

I hadn’t felt as though the degree was completed when I walked away from my final exam and into full-time work. I hadn’t sat down for one minute to reflect on the three years of deadlines, readings and pressure I had put on myself to submit work that I was genuinely proud of. But the ceremony did that for me – everyone was there to acknowledge that we did complete our academic pursuits.

Time had faded memories of the constant, nail-biting stress, the nightmares of sleeping through an exam (legitimately my worst fear) and the dehumanized being that didn’t remember what a ‘good-night’s-sleep’ felt like. I auto-piloted every day and focused on pages of complex political jargon every night. The memories faded easily because I was tired for the entire three years.

As I crossed the stage blinded by the lights, I accepted the prestigious piece of paper that I had been working towards with every assignment. My family was there to witness my qualification, to photograph me in the trencher and to exercise their pride. My mother is a natural academic, and my Dad a sportsman. Their pride was the real achievement that day.

The Right Direction

So my plate isn’t full, it’s over-flowing.

I study journalism full-time, work two jobs and study personal training part-time – I’m busy. Naturally I have had to become an expert at juggling and time-management and I couldn’t cope without a diary or a full fridge. My biggest struggle is balance. I don’t always have enough down-time to watch The Bachelor or meet up with my friends for coffee.

But when I do make time for myself it is quality time. I’m passionate about the outdoors and love to escape into the New Zealand forest on tramping escapades and live off crackers and soup. I exchange my weekends for a week away every few months to detox my system.

11076188_10153186252468249_878292895434045705_o

I consciously stay fit and healthy and am a completely cliche’ walking advertisement for self-improvement. I don’t indulge in negativity and try really hard to never take it on board. I think you have so much more control of your head-space than you think and don’t need to pick up what other people put down, if you don’t want to.

I have designed my life to both keep me happy and take me in the direction that I want to go. I have so many goals to pursue so I like to set myself up in a way that makes them reachable. That way I’ve gradually worked towards them rather than sporadically lunging at them with my fingers crossed.

I like to say yes to almost everything, so that opportunities don’t pass me by unnoticed. This usually works well and avoids any regrets. It also means I’m at work a lot covering people’s shifts.

Basically, I feel like some people let things happen around them or for them, but on my journey I’m the one steering.

I’m 21 years old and I am exactly where I want to be and who I want to be.