I drove my blue Holden Barina into the city of Brisbane.
As the sun disappeared and the darkness dropped in, the city lights danced across the winding river.
“Wow” I breathed. “Brisbane, you are beautiful.”
I’d arrived with nothing. No plan. No job. No place to live.
I was certain it would all work out.
House sitting a friend of a friend’s house for a week, I set about trying to get my life in order.
First was a job. Which I got on the second day, as a bookkeeper for a fancy fruit shop in the fancy part of town. “Start tomorrow” he said. And I did.
Next was an apartment. Which I got a week later, in a dodgy suburb about 15 minutes from the city and my work. The walls were paper thin, I could hear EVERYTHING my neighbours were doing. But I could just afford the rent.
I took my stuff out of storage and set up house.
Brisbane would become my home for the next eight years.
One thing my parents instilled in me from a very early age was a good (so good it was bad) work ethic. This served me well in the corporate environment.
Bosses loved me because I worked long and hard. Clients adored me because I was young, sweet, ready to please (self-worth issues much?), relatable, and I got the job done.
I quickly made my way from receptionist to bookkeeper to business consultant to senior consultant without any formal training.
When my partner at the time hit 30, he had – what we jokingly (not jokingly) called – a quarter life crisis. He flipped the fuck out.
I think I was 25 or 26 at the time. I watched him with interest and decided then and there that would NOT happen to me (famous last words).
So I did what I always did when there was an issue that needed solving. I business consulted the fuck out of my life. I strategised, I project managed and I put into place a very solid five year plan, to ensure at the ripe age of 30 I would be top of the corporate ladder, have heaps of money and a university degree to boot.
I told myself, at 30, I’d have nothing to worry about.
I certainly would NOT be having any quarter life crisis.
The Universe laughed.
My soul was under there somewhere kicking and screaming “Don’t do this!”
But I was too high on six figure incomes, a huge ego and recreational drugs to notice.
Fast forward a couple of years – and I had it all. I was 28 years old, a senior consultant, a huge pay packet, a business degree almost complete, a fancy convertible car. The universe had delivered.
My life was ticking all the boxes. I should have been happy.
But I wasn’t.
That creeping depression was there every day.
Before work on Mondays, I’d lie in bed, the sense of doom in my stomach pouring out through tears.
I had been contracted out to a mining company to do some consulting. This wasn’t new. I had worked on mining sites many times before. But this time something was different.
As I flew into that mine site , it was like I had suddenly woken from a deep sleep and was seeing the world – my world – for the first time.
They were digging up the earth, destroying the land, all for the sake of money.
I could feel the pain of the earth pulsing through me.
This was the very thing I was against.
I was not only contributing to it, but capitalising on it!
Once you’ve seen something, you cannot un-see it.
I started to ask myself some bigger questions: What is the point to this? Is this all there is to life? How am I contributing to the world in a way that is meaningful? What am I here for? What is my purpose?
Alongside a newly forming passion for veganism; alongside the creeping depression that was not-so-subtlety telling me “this lifestyle is not for you”; alongside a growing concern for our world and our environment, I could no longer stick my head in the sand and pretend everything was okay.
One morning, I was sitting at the end of my boyfriend’s bed in just my bra and undies. He had a mirror at the end of his bed. I looked up and stared at myself in the mirror.
I had no idea who I was.
Who is this person staring back at me?
I had created the perfect life. I had done all the things “they” told me to do – get the job, the relationship, climb the corporate ladder, make the money.
The problem was, in doing that, I’d veered so far off my own path, I’d completely lost sight of who I truly was.
Nothing in my life felt like me – not even me.
Something had to change. But, when you have no idea who you are, you have no idea what you truly want.
Little did I know, I was about to enter one of the darkest periods of my life.
Looking back, I can see that it was at this very moment, I began to drop into the unknown. That space in between stories as Charles Eisenstein calls it. Where the old life is done but the new life is yet to make itself known. It’s a space where I would remain for a long, dark, frustrating seven years.
Lobbed into my inbox one afternoon came an email from my university. They were looking for volunteers to work with endangered seas turtles in Costa Rica.
“This is for you” my soul whispered.
Finally, I started to listen…
Part 4 coming soon.