While on vacation back in September, my best friend asked me a question; “When was the last time you stepped back and thought ‘wow, I’m so incredibly lucky’?” (forgive me, bestie, if I bastardized that a bit, it was three months ago, after all). I thought about it for a moment, but the answer was blaring in my mind: every day. At least once every day I experience a moment of reflection and almost disbelief at all of the blessings I have come to know; a combination of sheer gratitude and pride for the incredible situation in which I have found myself. This isn’t to say that every second of every day is blissful, that would just be unrealistic, but for at least a fleeting moment each day I am in awe.
Things weren’t always this good. There was once a time when I thought that any day would be the day my heart would finally give out and life would be over. Not the confident and independent person I am today, inside I was self conscious, insecure, and had secretly allowed an all consuming eating disorder to control my life for years. Unfortunately, we live in a society where young women are more likely to be praised for their looks than their intelligence (which is a whole other discussion) and I fell into a trap in which I worried more than I ought to about what people thought of me. Eventually, I hit a wall and got help to end the destruction I was causing myself, but that didn’t solve all the problems.
I could never do anything alone. I was a master at manipulation and could convince friends to accompany me anywhere whether it be to a movie or on some random errand because heaven forbid I let myself be alone with my thoughts. Even the idea of spending an entire day by myself would probably have caused immense anxiety. The thing was, on the outside, I came across as a confident girl who had it mostly together and didn’t care much what others thought. I was trying to play the role of a person I wished I really was.
I haven’t really talked about it on here although I’ve touched upon it in guest posts and interviews on other websites but when I first left home to begin my career in yachting, I crashed and burned in an epic way. From the moment I woke up on my departure date, I was a complete mess. I don’t think I stopped crying once in the first week I spent in Florida; I couldn’t eat, let alone carry on a decent conversation with someone. Looking back now, it’s laughable but at the time I was a literal shell of a human being. It became bearable after a few weeks and I had some amazing people looking out for me (and I will forever be grateful for their compassion and most importantly, patience in dealing with my crap) but ultimately I came home a failure.
I was completely lost. My only post grad plan was a monumental failure and I had no idea what to do next. I started waitressing and did some babysitting on the side, wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. Then after a few months, the restaurant where I was working suddenly went out of business and there I was, an unemployed waitress with a college degree, living in my childhood bedroom in my parents house. I guess you could say things weren’t looking so hot. Shortly after that, things began to dissolve with my long-term boyfriend. Everything was falling apart. But looking back now, everything was really aligning without my knowing. With no ties, no steady job, and NO desire to continue living under my parents roof (I’m being harsh, they weren’t so bad), leaving became the only real option. I had to make it work. The universe was saying “get the hell out of Maryland, there’s nothing for you here right now”. And then, as cosmic fate would have it, I stumbled across this job posting with the perfect size boat, a dream itinerary, a cool laid back crew, and what do you know, here I am.
I like to say it was fate. Fate that I had come home and began babysitting again. Fate that that family’s reference secured me the job. Fate that I had at least stuck it out in Florida long enough to finish my certifications but still came home and was available when this opportunity came around. I really think that the stars aligned for me but then I took their gifts and used them to find myself. I learned to be independent because I had to. I had to make new friends in foreign countries. I learned to love my privacy as I adjusted to spending 24 hours a day with my employers and the rest of the crew. I learned to enjoy spending time alone because sometimes when you are the only one with a day off there is no choice but to wander around and explore a new place and maybe discover something about yourself in the process. Most importantly, I learned to value myself for the incredible, intelligent and beautiful woman I am, and that has been the greatest gift of all. Everything else is just a bonus.
I know it might not always be like this, but finding a moment of bliss in each day for two plus years is a pretty good record I’ve got going.