What life experiences have given you your resilience training?
The year is 1994, I’m on a working holiday in Australia and have just turned 21.
Up until that point, I’d been working in Sydney and Melbourne for about 6 months. I had made lifelong friends and had some great work experiences but decide I need a new challenge. I still need to explore the west coast before returning home so set off on my next adventure.
My friend Jack offers to put me up for a while. We had met on a coach tour the year before and I’m now heading on a plane west after securing somewhere to stay. It starts off well, I meet his housemate and we exchange our life stories, she’s a lot older than me but I can sense she’s had a difficult life.
My thirst for adventure continues and my friend and I head off on a road trip. We cover a lot of miles, not being used to the roads I manage to narrowly avoid kangaroos, emus and at one point manage to drive his car into a ditch. Not sure if Jack ever forgave me for the latter! Nonetheless, we take in breathtaking sights and meet a few other backpackers on our way as well as trying the odd winery en route.
On our return the dynamic in the house had changed. I don’t feel as welcome as before and start to feel tense. I find my positivity not overly appreciated. My character seems to be under fire and I start to lose my spark. Luckily a new aquaintance offers me a job and saves the day, my new colleagues welcome me into their social group and I feel my bubbly self start to return.
Then, one evening, my colleagues invite me on a night out. I thought it would be a late one but arrive back earlier than expected. As I approach the house, I overhear a conversation about me that I wasn’t supposed to hear. I decide that’s the last straw. I pack my bags the very next morning in floods of tears and without having a plan I head into Perth. Luckily I come across a youth hostel which has space, at least I have somewhere to sleep that night. Relief sweeps over me as I am now free of the unpleasantness but it’s soon replaced with loneliness and fear, it’s the first time I really experience this since leaving the UK. At the same time the job comes to an end and I’m suddenly starting from scratch.
I then meet Heather, the loveliest person you could possibly meet. We quickly become friends. Her easy going and down to earth nature is just what I need. I feel I can be myself again and we click. Within a few days we set off to Rottnest Island where she plans to work for a few weeks. I feel inspired to do the same. We both become chambermaids at a resort, it was probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done. Cleaning rooms in 90 degree heat with a tough boss who has high standards wasn’t easy, give me an office job any day I would often say to myself.
I loved living on this beautiful island, it has such a happy place in my heart even to this day. I meet so many lovely people and feel completely at home. I’m still proud of that fact I’d learnt to make a bed properly and managed to overcome my fear of snakes even if temporary (you would often see them around 6pm when the sun was setting). Above all I’m glad I left the other place when I did, the two housemates actually did me favour as I had to stand on my two feet and face my fears. I actually made peace with them once I moved out, life’s too short after all to hold any grudges. Being older now I might have handled the situation very differently, that’s what I love about maturity and hindsight.
Although this was 26 years ago, I still remember it clearly like it was yesterday. It’s part of my resilience training and learning some invaluable life skills which I will never forget.
We are all stronger and more resilient than we realise, every difficult experience has helped us to become the person we are today.
So, what moments in your past have shaped you and how are they helping during this time?
Stay well, keep healthy and remember how resourceful we all are.