Ah, what a year. It’s almost over too, which seems crazy.
This year has been extremely good. I’ve grown more this year than I ever have, and more than I expected, that’s for sure. In February I went to New Zealand alone, my first time travelling solo. It was easy. I spent two weeks in Christchurch doing work experience for a fantastic vegan chocolate company, which I can now say is my favourite chocolate ever. While staying with Lucy, the owner of the company, I spent my days photographing chocolate in her sunlit living room, recipe testing, and using a hammer and chisel to smash up chocolate with Kavitha, my 30-something American friend (whilst listening to Whitney Houston). And a friend of Lucy’s told me I would go far, which was quite random but nice to hear! After Christchurch, I took a bus and a taxi to Lake Hawea, which is Lake Wanaka’s lesser-known little sister. My wonderful hosts for two days were a homeschooling family I’d met only once. They were so good to me: they gave me honey to take home, bought me a greenstone ring, showed me the lake’s carnivorous eels and praised my piano skills. I won’t forget the waterfall we climbed, the bike ride along the sparkling lake, and the incredible, blue glacial water we swam in underneath the canyon. I still can’t believe how we fit all those magical things into just two days.
January saw me partake in my first music camp. Staying up until three in the morning dancing to live music with strangers will always be my idea of fun! While I can’t say the others my age were great company (why do people think going to a wedding with the sole purpose of getting drunk is cool?), I can say that the music was fantastic, my mind was expanded, and I learnt some things. I went to another music camp this September, and played mandolin with the kids camping next to us. It was my first time camping, too… Yeah, I know. Now I finally know the joy of waking up to the early morning sun and the kookaburras laughing, and I know I’ve been missing out big time. Another camping neighbour from Melbourne, a 40 year old mum, talked to me about being the oldest child and the responsibility that is consequentially expected because of it. We talked about astrology and poetry, and she told me how archangels guide her to the right treatment for the patients of her naturopathic clinic. At 11:11, her eyes lit up as she said “it’s eleven eleven, make a wish!” Those were some great conversations, and those who know me well know I love nothing more.
Anyway, the reason I sat down to write this post was because I wanted to talk about learning. I turned seventeen this August, so if I was at school I’d be in year eleven, slaving away at VCE. A common misconception people have is that VCE is compulsory for entry into university. Wrong! There are so many other pathways, one of which I did this year: I completed two university units through Open Universities Australia: the first was Academic and Professional Communications with Curtin University, and the second was Styles and Genres of Journalism with Griffith University. They were completed online, and I’m happy to say I got a distinction for both of them! But the purpose of me writing this is not to show off, it’s to share other possibilities with you. The whole rigmarole and stress of two years’ worth of VCE can be avoided by just doing a few university units online in less than half the time. Or you could go to tafe, which is also a good option. Personally, when I’m studying intently I find it tricky to focus on other aspects of my life, and I actually begin to lose sense of myself (as dramatic as that sounds). I don’t have the experience and resilience that school-educated people have from the countless hours and never-ending piles of homework. And I’m happy about that, because I’ve had time to learn about myself and the world rather than spend valuable time on a subject I’ve got no interest in. While resilience and stress management during study is something I’ll try and work on, I can’t imagine the hardcore study pressure of two straight years of VCE when I found it difficult to do six months. Obviously I’m going to have to step up my game for university, but I’ll worry about that later! The fact is that when I don’t have time to connect with myself through my usual hobbies (playing music, journaling, reading), I lose a sense of security in myself. But the main point behind it is that it doesn’t feel natural to put your whole life into something that isn’t rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, the outcome is rewarding: the degree, the graduation. But the slog isn’t! It’s all about balancing time, I think. It’s also about happiness.
The plan from here is to learn, which is easy. Next year I’m heading to the UK and my beloved Italy with my family. My 18th birthday will be spent on the beautiful beach of Roccella Ionica, Calabria, in August, and from there my family and I will part ways. I’ll go to an Italian language school somewhere (hopefully in the south) and get my Italian to a semi-fluent level, then do a bit of solo travel. The next part of the plan is to go to university in 2021 and possibly do an arts degree, which I’ll apply for now and defer until then. And that’s the plan, which is still pretty rough. Somewhere in there is a trip to Iceland, a year-long Australian camping road trip, moving out, and writing a book. We’ll see how those go. They might have to come later.
Honestly, learning has nothing to do with a formal education, or an informal one at that. In my eyes, education only needs to see that you have the skills required for your chosen degree or occupation, and you’ve finished with it. School kills creativity, freedom of expression (or any freedom for that matter), individuality and spirit. School does not teach us how to love. School does not teach us how to grow our own food and be self-sufficient. Instead, school is a breeding ground for sameness, a place where propaganda can be spread under parents’ noses, and a nurturer of pack mentality; oppress or be oppressed, conform or be made to do so. Children and teenagers’ entire lives revolve around one bleak building. They are made to dress alike, and expression of character through self-image is penalised. Young, malleable people are bent into the same shape as the rest, moulded into good employees and followers. It sounds dark because it is. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that my children will never attend regular school.
The world is so much bigger and better than that. Why the hell would you waste time in a class learning about something you don’t like when our time on earth is so limited? Living your truth is so much more exciting, don’t you think? It feels good to refuse to be twisted like clay into something that fits someone else’s idea of what’s right. Let your soul guide you, not your timetable.
I’ve learnt so much more from people and the real world than I’ve learnt from doing tests or or worksheets. All they’ve really taught me is time and stress management! But the world has taught me love, language, connection, music, conversation, cooking, how to swim, and how to give and receive. I’ve learnt how to be positive and how to ask for help, how to take care of plants, how to trust my intuition. I’ve learnt that not all intentions are good, some people are better than others, and there is more to the story than just the words. I have learnt about life through exploration, trial and error, ‘mistakes’, and other people. I am always content to sit and listen to you if you have something to teach me. We are all constantly learning, and the process is beautiful. I am still learning how to speak my truth, how to overcome fear, and how to be fully present. But I know that where I am now is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and amazing things are ahead. All I have to do is be, and I’ll get there eventually. But for now - the present moment is enough. I have big dreams and often get caught up in wishing the future was here right now. I’m trying to remind myself that now is cool, too, and the journey is way better than the destination. Everything takes time!
I’m tired of pretending; changing myself to fit in is boring as hell. Trying to please everyone is impossible. My greatest wish is to be surrounded by people who share the same knowledge and values as me, and although I fully respect and admire everybody’s individuality, I just want to be able to speak my truth without being judged, and for others to agree once in a while.
I’m currently coming into an interest in spirituality. I’ve always been interested in the law of attraction since I stumbled upon it a few years ago, but I’ve recently been reading a book called Ask and You Shall Receive by Esther and Jerry Hicks, containing ‘the teachings of Abraham’: words spoken by Esther as she channels some kind of omniscient spirits that call themselves Abraham. It sounds awfully wacky, but believe me, Abraham is where it’s at. Those words are too perfect not to have come straight from Source. So I’m a big believer in the law of attraction and I’ve used it consciously in the past. The feeling of manifesting something is real magic.
Strangely, I wouldn’t normally tell my friends much of this, for fear of judgement. Two common themes in my life right now that I’m trying to work on are fear (the dismissal of it) and truth (the speaking of it). I have been afraid to speak my truth because of possibly facing judgement or rejection, but now’s when that begins to end. I watched a fantastic TED talk by Brené Brown about the power of vulnerability. Woah. I see why I sometimes struggle to have really meaningful connections - I want people to open up to me without first opening up to them. I had a negative experience with opening up to a friend this year (more good life lessons). The friend took in what I said but didn’t share anything about themselves, and I took that negatively. I see now that that friend has difficulty opening up and being vulnerable about their feelings, which is really okay. That’s a lesson for them to learn. This experience led me to be closed off and scared of vulnerability for a time. But holy heck, when people are vulnerable with you it’s so attractive! Being shown that someone trusts you enough to be honest with you is such an honour, and it’s something I hope to be able to improve within myself. If I know you and don’t tell you much about myself, it’s not you, it’s me!
Our quality of life is based off our relationships, so I strongly believe that spending time with people you care about is extremely important. I also believe that there are certain people you just ‘click’ with. These people are your people, your soul family, your tribe, whatever you want to call them. Whether they’re friends, family or a romantic partner, you promised each other before your birth to meet up in this life, and you know it when you meet them. It’s like a feeling that you’ve known them for a very, very long time despite just meeting. These are the kind of connections I crave, and I think I may have been lucky enough to find some already. I wrote a post about connection a little while ago, which you can see if you scroll down a bit. I can’t actually remember what I wrote, but hopefully it’s worth a read! A massive lesson I’ve learnt this year is the importance we rightfully place on relationships, and I’m so excited about all the different people I’ll meet and interact with in the future. I am incredibly grateful for everyone I’ve met this year, and I can say with full confidence that everyone has had an impact on me, the vast majority of those being positive. So to you reading this (because most of my blog readers are probably people I know): thank you for being in my life. I appreciate it so much more than you know.
There’s something wonderful about lying in the sun on the spiky grass, letting the ants run over your feet and tickle you gently. There’s something so wonderful about being present with yourself; not worrying, not even dreaming of the future or reminiscing on the past. Basically meditation, but with the added element of being in nature in some form. Magical. As a rushing, busy society, it’s powerful and important for us to spend time with ourselves, doing nothing; just being.
For my unit in journalism I had to write an essay arguing for or against the statement “Julian Assange has ruined journalism”. Upon reading the question I had no idea who Julian Assange was, and decided to write about one of the other topic choices instead. A week later I was looking through a street library’s contents and came across a red and grey book: Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography. That was enough of a sign for me to take the book, get reading, get researching and get writing. That essay took me along a path of many emotions, and it’s an understatement to say I think Julian Assange is an absolute hero. The way he is being tortured and treated in prison is just another sign of the all-powerful, lie-perpetuating organisational body that is the government. Over the course of writing that essay, I learnt more about the evils of the world than I ever have. You could call it an awakening. I’d call myself a conspiracy theorist if that term wasn’t used so loosely. The truth is that I seek truth; the truth is that I look past what I’m fed, seeing the lies that are waiting to be uncovered. When people think of conspiracy, they think ‘nine eleven was an inside job’. When I think of conspiracy, I think of big pharmaceutical companies promoting vaccines which kill, permanently disfigure and harm children (I can attest to this from personal experience). I think of the hidden powers ruling the world, the New World Order, the political agenda behind climate change, the promotion of pharmaceutical drugs as ‘healing’ instead of natural medicine, and politics being an illusion to make us feel like we have control through voting. I learnt all of it at once, and it definitely wasn’t fun. What else isn’t fun is pretending to agree with people that have been led to believe these big lies and massive coverups.
I also believe that a healthy amount of sunlight is essential to our natural state of being, and sunscreen is a chemical concoction that harms us (think skin cancer) and the oceans, too. What’s crazy is that schools teach ‘SunSmart’ classes and tell their students that sunlight causes cancer and sunscreen protects us. What the hell?! Of course, I am always open to discussion around these things. I don’t often fully trust what I’m told, so I’m happy to have my mind changed… If I was wrong. To me, things are never as simple as they seem. There is almost always a hidden meaning or truth.
I don’t really know where I’ve been going with this post, but it was definitely a good way for me to look back on some of the things I’ve achieved this year and be proud of how far I’ve come. My teenage years will be over soon enough, but I doubt I'll stop changing. Change is so wonderful, new opportunities are so good. The teenage years are important and crazy and formative. It all seems like a whirlwind now, but a good whirlwind. I can’t begin to grasp how much I have grown, learnt and changed since thirteen, and even now, looking back at old photos of myself from less than a year ago, I feel like a completely different person. And it’s really quite fantastic.
Today marks the final day of my formal-ish high school-level studies. I called my Italian teacher for my last phone lesson, which was a test. She asked me to send her a postcard from my language school in Italy next year, and told me I’ve been one of her best students. I’m so grateful for all the teachers in my life, and that’s everyone, really.
So here’s to many further years of exploration, self-discovery, travelling, writing, learning, growing and changing. What a wonderful journey it is.