7 Things I Would Tell My Teenage Self

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19-years-old in Prague
  1. Don’t worry so much about what others think or say about you. The older you get, the less you give a damn about what people think. We tend to get to get so caught up in the opinions of others, when really, they have absolutely no power over your life unless you give it. Life is so fluid, so exciting, so changeable – just like you. Wear what you want to wear, say what’s on your mind, be whoever you want to be and let them talk.
  2. Enjoy your teenage years as much as you can. The memories you create in your teenage years are the ones you will look back on when you are older and think, “Damn, that was fun.” Make it worth looking back on – stay out until the sunrise, have late night rendezvous with friends, laugh and dance and cry as much as you can. You are young and wild, and these are the years where you can (almost) get away with anything.
  3. You don’t have to have it all figured out. There tends to be a lot of pressure to follow a certain linear path in life: university, career, marriage and then children. However, while that works for some, a lot of people find that this is not the trajectory for them – and that is okay! Some of the most interesting, successful and inspiring people in life are still figuring things out and willingly admit that they don’t have their shit together (no one does). There is no end destination, no final frontier; the happiness is all in the journey.
  4. Nurture friendships with people who are positive, loyal and loving. You’re going to meet people who will betray your trust, use you and take advantage of what you have to give. Be thankful for those people because, even if they have hurt you, they have taught you the power of true friendship and loyalty. The people who stick with you through the hard times, uplift you when you are feeling down and believe the best in you when you are at your worst are those you need to invest in. Keep them close to your heart – they are your lifeline.
  5. Invest in self-love before looking for a relationship. It gets said often, but one of the most important relationships in life is the one you have with yourself. Don’t pine or seek out romantic love if you don’t yet love yourself. Learn to be comfortable alone, take yourself on dates, travel solo (even if it’s just the next city over), and fall in love with you are. You learn your value, worth and beauty when you know what is truly at stake, and that can only come through self-care.
  6. Things won’t always be so bad. It may be that things are so dark that it seems it will be like that forever. This is not true. Your life is a work in progress – it is constantly changing along with the feelings and people in it. Sometimes, things happen that will exceed your wildest dreams. Sometimes, you will cry because your heart is so full of joy. Sometimes, someone will tell you that they love you and you will believe it. There are days to come where you will be glad you held on despite how sad and broken you feel. Which leads me on to the next point…
  7. The best is yet to come. Never would I have imagined when I was a teenager the amazing things that were to come. The most happiest and life-altering experiences all happened outside of my teenage years, and I’m so glad I held on for them. There is so much for you to see and do. There are endless possibilities for you to explore, hundreds of countries for you to travel to and plenty of people to meet and fall in love with – and the best thing is, you are only just getting started.

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Ghosting: Why You Shouldn’t Do it And What To Do Instead

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Almost all of us has experienced a form of ghosting – the act of disappearing from someone’s life gradually or suddenly without any warning.

It sucks, to say the least. You are left feeling confused, bewildered and often rejected, wondering what you did wrong and why that person left you hanging, especially if you once shared a close and intimate relationship.

I have been on both sides of the story. I have, ashamedly, ghosted friends and interested men because I was simply afraid to tell them the truth: that I outgrew the relationship, that I was not interested in them, that I was not looking for anything more than just friends.

On the other hand, I have been ghosted before, and one such time happened recently. After this person showed his interest and made his intentions clear with me, we started talking for a couple of weeks. Suddenly, he stopped replying. No reason why was given. After a couple of more weeks of complete silence, I decided I didn’t have the capacity to deal with it and moved on. I felt lead on and rejected, sure, but there was also a feeling of anger that stemmed from wondering why; did I say or do something that made him drop and leave? What I would have greatly appreciated was an explanation. I think most of us would agree that being told no is okay if we are actually told no.

Basically, being ghosted has the ability to make people feel confused, upset and pretty rejected. Don’t do it.

Ghosting is undoubtedly easier than saying the hard stuff, the stuff no one wants to say, but needs to be said. This is not only for your peace of mind but because you have a duty to be kind and truthful to one another. It can be as simple as saying, “I appreciate your interest in me, and you seem like a cool person, but I’m not looking for anything further than friendship right now” or “I value our friendship and think you’re a ____ person, but I need some space for me right now and will connect with you if/when I am ready.” End it with a hope for their understanding and thank them if they are.

By being truthful as to why you need to distance yourself or completely end all communication, you respect their time and their energy rather than wasting it. You give them clarity and the peace to move on. Too many times have I heard perpetually stuck, frustrated friends say to me, “I just wished he/she was honest with me.”

We are living in tech-obsessed culture where simultaneously connecting and disappearing from someone’s life is all too easy, but I encourage and implore you to take the high road and say the hard stuff. Be very upfront, but be kind. People will appreciate it much more than you think.

Photo via Lehxay

A Look Back On My 2018

What a year.

While 2017 was one of my happiest, 2018 was one of the most challenging. It hasn’t been an easy one, and I would say I only achieved half of what I set out to do this year, but I’m thankful — there was a lot of room for growth and change this season.

So, what has happened this year that made it so tumultuous and wonderful at the same time?

In the beginning of the year, one of my best friends from New Zealand came to visit me in Bangkok and decided to move to Thailand a few months later! She has been a light, a rock and a never-ending well of support & love for me in my lowest moments. We have had so many adventures and stories to tell together and have travelled to a number of islands around Thailand, with each one crazier than the last.

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My best friend Hala and I on a swing in Koh Chang, Thailand

Early in 2018, I also began a long-distance, open relationship with someone who lived in London. We met in Bangkok one night and never looked back, and within six months of meeting, I decided to visit him in London. That relationship ended shortly after. It was messy and complicated and I was heart-broken. Looking back in hindsight, I feel thankful for the experience because he showed me how much I could really love someone. He was the first man I’ve ever said that to, and for that, I am proud.

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One of my cutest and smartest private English students

I recently went back home to New Zealand for three weeks to celebrate the marriage of my best friend of ten years (she’s the one who pretty much saved my life when I was depressed). It was an emotional but very happy experience for me, and I was so proud to be her maid-of-honour on her special day. One of my other best friends is also pregnant, and for the first time I got to see her big, beautiful belly and talk to her about incoming motherhood. I’m so excited to be an aunt and to one day soon hold this tiny, precious human in my arms. I spent the entire time at home in the company of friends and family, all of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year and whom I missed so much.

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My gorgeous best friend Anja and her husband on their wedding day

It lead me to make the final decision to leave Thailand for good and move back to New Zealand for the time being (knowing me, I have grown far too accustomed to the travelling lifestyle to give it up all too soon). I have been tossing up this decision and been on the fence about it for almost the entirety of the year, but it has been dawning on me that there is really nothing more important in life than the connections you have with those you love. Time and time again, I have been told that social connections is key to a happy, healthy and well-lived life, and all the ones that mattered to me were back home. I have also been desiring a job which uses my strengths and I can be passionate about, and to start a family one day soon. Sure, I will be sad to leave Thailand after two years — it has been absolutely wild and unforgettable — but it feels like I have actually outgrown it and need to be re-planted somewhere else.

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Christmas in Bangkok

Many times this year, I have felt down — about serious illnesses in my family, about workplace dramas and freelancing setbacks, about troubles with my health, and often about how behind in life I felt compared to my friends. I know that things like finding love and creating a family will eventually happen at the right time and place and to be patient (which is the advice every married person gives me — to take your time), but sometimes that voice of failure gets a little louder. I tell it to be quiet, though. I want to embrace every season in my life and be present in every moment. I’m not going to spend it wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and for that reason, is exactly where happiness and meaning lies.

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Celebrating Anja’s hen’s night in the city

Because I have experienced more loneliness and sadness than usual this year, I have been really dependant on my yoga, meditation and mindfulness practises. These things have been extremely cathartic for me and a way for me to process and gain perspective on my feelings and situations. It helps me to turn everything in my life into an opportunity to gain mental strength and resilience. One mantra that has really helped me is this: “I am not in control, but I am resilient.”

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Enjoying the sun at Hua Hin Beach, a getaway gifted to me as a late birthday present from Hala

I’m glad this year is finally coming to a close. A lot has happened to keep me on my toes, but when I look back, I’m deeply thankful that I had amazing friends and family who rode it out with me. That’s all that really matters in life, isn’t it?

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Download My Free Guide On The Best Things To Do In Bangkok

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If you or someone you know is coming to Bangkok and have no clue where to go or what to do, I have compiled a free guide on the best things to do in one of my favourite cities in the world. It covers areas like my favourite cafes, bars and markets. Download it here.

If you have any further questions or concerns about your travels in Bangkok, don’t hesitate to contact me. I have lived in Bangkok for over 18 months and have done plenty of travel around the rest of Thailand, too. I’d be happy to help out and give you the best experience of Bangkok and Thailand as possible!

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How To Politely Tell Your Friend To Put Their Phone Away

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One of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m having a conversation with someone and they whip out their phone halfway through and start scrolling or messaging someone.

It is, to me, one of the rudest things you can do. It communicates to me, ‘I’d rather be in the virtual world than be here with you.’

After a recent catch-up session with a friend of mine in which she kept stopping me mid-conversation to reply back to her messages, I realised that the only way people were going to stop doing that was if I told them.

Telling a friend to stop going on their phones when they’re with you is awkward and uncomfortable AF. But, what I valued more than my own discomfort and fear of doing so was uninterrupted connection, feeling heard and ultimately, presence.

It is a rare thing to get all three these days; so much so, that whenever I am graced with it, I feel overwhelmed and grateful. People are constantly looking down at their phones, constantly distracted, constantly looking for the next thing to keep them entertained and amused. We have become uncomfortable with silence and boredom and the compassionate and unselfish act of listening.

I know I cannot affect change on a large scale, but I can begin by changing the way things work in my own life. How do I tell a friend, politely, to put their phone away when they’re with me?

I decided the best thing to say is: “Hey, it’s important to me that you’re present when I’m talking. Do you mind putting your phone away for the rest of our conversation?”
Rather than finger-pointing, it expresses your needs and asks a simple request that they can accept or decline.

In addition to this, I believe that one of the best ways we can go against the “always distracted” culture is to lead by example in our own lives. When you’re with someone, put your phone away and don’t take it out until you are alone again. Always hold eye contact and make an effort to listen and be present to what the other person is saying. On the occasions you do have to use your phone in front of someone, apologise, look them in the eye and say, “I’m really sorry – you are my priority right now but I just need to check/send this off really quickly.” Then, turn off your phone and give them your undivided attention.

These small acts of grace build up; they build up to become the person you are. Build yourself into someone who makes people feel seen, heard and important.
Choose presence over distraction, even if it is boring and uncomfortable.
Choose to create spaces of total uninterruptions.
Choose people over screens. 

Photo via Birdasaurus

How To Deal With A Break-Up

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My checklist for a broken heart:

  1. Travel. Travel is one of the biggest cures for a break-up. It takes you out of your head and reminds you of the endless beauty and possibilities of life. Whether you go overseas or travel domestically, spend it on a beach or in the mountains — always go with an open mind, no matter how broken your heart may be.
  2. Lean on your friends. Skype with them, call them or send them a message to let them know you are struggling. Draw on their love and support and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it; that’s what good friends are there for.
  3. Pray and send him/her love. I like what Richard says to Elizabeth in Eat, Pray, Love when she tells him that she misses her ex-boyfriend: “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.”
  4. Move your body. Yoga, hiking, boxing, taking a long walk — get some movement. If you get a sweat going, even better. Sweat is good for the body. Sweat is good for the soul.
  5. Eat bad food. Then, eat good food. After you eat pizza and chocolate and drink too much wine for a little while, switch it up and eat something wholesome and healthy and nutritious. It’s all about balance.
  6. Have a good cry. Cry as hard and as long as you need to, until there is nothing left inside of you to let out. Empty the ocean that is within you to make room for love to rush in and replace it.
  7. Wrap a big blanket around you and binge watch a TV series. My friend Anja once told me to do this because I had been living alone in Bangkok at that time and had no one to hug me. It literally feels like you are being held by a soft and giant teddy bear while you are watching Netflix.
  8. Listen to sad music. Sad music can heal. Sad music can soothe. Sad music can bring forth tears, and tears are good for the soul.
  9. Have a fun night out. Dress to kill, then go drink and dance with your friends. It’s good to have fun and meet new people once in a while to remind yourself there is a life after your heartbreak.
  10. Take a break from social media. Deactivate your Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat for a while. Focus on self-care; focus on putting in rather than out. And if your ex is on any of those social media platforms, it’s a good idea to unfriend or unfollow them now. It will be hard, but it will make it so much easier to move on in the long-run.

Photo via In Bed Store