2017 has taught me a lot of life lessons. I’ve also had a lot of time to do some serious soul-searching. It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. And there have certainly been times when I have felt a little lost. But for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am truly happy within myself! Which is actually quite profound as that probably hasn’t always been the case.
Truth be told, in the past my life has been pretty good.
Last year I was living the dream! (Read that post here.) Constantly flying between Australia and Bali, I was frequently travelling. My working week was spent living in a five-star resort and I’d return to my inner city apartment to enjoy my days off. I was always eating out, frequently visiting the spa and spent my days laying by the pool, working on my tan, several days a week!
I was always surrounded by people and my colleagues became my close friends. In fact, they felt more like family really. So I was barely ever alone. Yet, on my days off, exhausted after my travels, I’d still feel a sense of loneliness. Life was busy though. So I’d quickly shake off any negative emotions after getting a good night’s sleep. Hitting the gym was like therapy and would help me to feel revitalised again. And I’d then return to the sunshine on my next trip and instantly feel at peace!
I was living on cloud nine. But then the worst happened.
The airline encountered some political challenges and withdrew from international operations. Temporarily, at first. But after unsuccessfully resolving the issues at hand, a press release confirmed my worst nightmare! The airline I worked for was permanently withdrawing from the flying to Bali. And my heart instantly sank. Then, what followed was a series of life lessons that I certainly hadn’t seen coming the year before!
It may sound like I am being overly dramatic. But the feeling was gut-wrenching and I entered a state of shock. My colleagues and I had built a life in Bali.. And to know we would not be going back was heart-breaking!
The hotel had become our second home and the local people had become our friends. So not having the chance to say goodbye was incredibly difficult.
We were all still in the process of ticking things off our BALI bucket list and had been having the time of our lives! We had worked so hard to launch our international operation. And the reviews from our airline passengers indicated that they loved flying with us! Our flights were always busy and as a crew, we were incredibly proud of the positive energy we had brought on board. So to have it all taken back so suddenly felt brutal, much like being slapped in the face. It was certainly amongst the harshest of all life lessons!
Not to mention the fear and uncertainty we faced about what the future would hold for us.
All of our cabin crew had taken many months off to re-train on a new aircraft type. We learned specific operating procedures, in collaboration with our parent airline, to be able to fly internationally. And we were not dual-endorsed the company’s domestic aircraft fleet. So our employment status was up in the air since we could not simply return to domestic flying.
Fortunately, the company did their best to support us during this turbulent time. Over the following months, we were re-trained and eventually, after several months of uncertainty, we were finally able to resume flying within Australia.
In the meantime, though, we had to adjust to being back and return to living our lives in Melbourne.
We had basically relocated to Bali. for the previous year, so we felt incredibly homesick. Much like the post-holiday depression you feel after returning home from travelling. We were missing being in the company of our fellow crew 24-7. We were craving local Balinese food and suddenly, we had to reacclimatize to Melbourne’s freezing winter weather!
Financially, times were also extremely tough and this is probably one of the life lessons that hit me the hardest.
(Read more here). Having a break from flying was bearable as I settled back into life in Australia. But suddenly I went from constantly being away, to barely being able to afford to leave the house. Going on vacation this year was clearly out of the question, as my salary had suddenly been slashed significantly. And I had to give up all of the things that I loved the most – such as yoga and pilates classes – because I simply couldn’t afford them.
I felt like I’d hit rock bottom and feeling frustrated, I was ready to wish 2017 away.
Until I received some wise words of wisdom from my friends. Taking to social media to make a wish for things to improve, I was overcome by the messages of encouragement and hope that came from the important people in my life. One friend commented on my Facebook post,
“These times are there to challenge us and make us stronger!! Look after yourself Paula, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel”
Reading this I instantly felt uplifted and knew she was right! The events of this year had brought on a series of life lessons that lead me to reassess my life path. But it was one particular piece of advice from a former colleague that really hit home,
“Things will get better, but you have to be the one to make the change!”
2017 has really pushed me to become a better version of myself.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my own company and had a lot of time to reflect on what is truly important to me. And I realized something that came as somewhat of a shock to me. Which was probably the most important of all the life lessons I’d learned!
For the past year, I had been living on cloud nine. But internally, I was incredibly lonely and had become somewhat disconnected from the things that matter most to me – my friends and family back home.
As Flight Attendants, we are used to having forgo time with family and friends.
Fortunately, though, this year I have had the opportunity to celebrate a lot of important occasions with them! I flew home to Queensland to celebrate Easter with my family. And I’ve also been able to attend many events, celebrating milestone moments in my friend’s lives, that I would have missed out on if I was away. I have also realised how much I long to find my own soulmate and celebrate those important life-changing moments for myself! (Which then lead me to think about being 34 and alone whilst my biological clock is ticking. Read that story here).
It’s been quite a lot to ponder and I have leant on my family and friends for moral support.
However, it is the workmates with whom I shared the journey that have really remained my rock. We have all grieved the loss of our international lifestyle and we have organised many catch-ups to celebrate this amazing chapter of our lives. We have shared the highs and lows of these life lessons and come through the experience with a strong sense of comradery.
Despite all going in different directions since our return, we regularly keep in touch via social media and those of us who still fly together regularly share stories about our travels. We’ve all had to face the difficult decision of which path to take from here on in. And personally, I still love flying and have held onto the hope that the airline I work for will one day return to international flying. I, therefore, made the decision to return to domestic flying in the interim. But this has been challenging within itself and I’ve encountered a lot of setbacks along the way.
In fact, I can honestly say that not one (major) positive thing has happened to me this year! And not just in terms of my career either. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I’ve faced a number of life lessons and challenges, including financial hardship, health issues and the loss of a family member. And just when I thought life couldn’t get any harder, I’d be thrown yet another curve ball. The amazing thing is, though, I’ve come through it stronger than ever and I have certainly learned a lot about myself along the way!
I invested a lot of energy in overcoming these battles.
Through crystal healing and meditation, I have been able to manifest small signs that helped to bring meaning and happiness to my life. I’ve learned to harness the law of attraction to draw positive energy my way (Read more here). I’ve had countless conversations discussing career options with my colleagues. And I’ve spent hours questioning the workings of the universe with those same people, who are now also my closet friends!
I honestly believe in the intervention of fate on our life path.
And this year I’ve read many books to help me improve areas of my life which I have previously ignored – such as relationship coaching, spirituality and personal development. Most importantly, through this blog, I have been able to celebrate what was, without a doubt, THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!
I may have only just started sharing my BALI stories with you (and I almost feel like I am spoiling the ending here). But sadly, of all the life lessons that reign true here, the prevailing truth is that all good things must eventually come to an end. I’ll forever be thankful for the opportunity to live abroad and in particular, for the amazing crew with whom I have shared the journey!
But, as 2018 approaches, it’s time for me to make the difficult decision on what path to take from here!
I’ve been flying for the past four and half years at this point and it’s actually quite an exciting feeling to not know exactly what the future holds. Whatever happens from here on in, though, I know I have to follow my heart on the path to happiness!
Thank you to everyone who has followed my blogging journey so far! I will continue to share my Flight Attendant stories and travel adventures with you in 2018. But for now, as the sun sets on what has been one of the most challenging years of my life, I’d like to take a moment to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
You never really know what the future has in store for you. So, if like me, you have reached a point in your life where you are just feeling a little lost, don’t despair. It’s a new year, time for a new you!
It really is these life lessons in challenging times that make us better versions of ourselves. So if there’s something that may have been holding you back, it’s time to chase after whatever it is that truly makes you happy. Personally, I can honestly say I’m really looking forward to what can only be a better year to come! Bring on the positive vibes!!!!!