(This piece was originally posted on my personal blog, Mouthless Mutters, in December 2014)
I turn 30 on Saturday (20th December), and the last week of my twenties has made me stop and take stock of all I’ve experienced, good and bad, over the last ten years. My twenties have certainly been an interesting ride. I turned 20 in 2004, somewhere in the midst of a haze of depression – I don’t remember it at all. The two years that proceeded High School are a blur to me, all I remember is feelings of inadequacy, social anxiety, Gilmore Girls and cheese & onion chips. I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom and I’d put on 30 kilos. If I did celebrate my birthday with friends, it was probably only because I believed it to be expected of me. It was, however, in my twentieth year that things started to turn around for me. In 2005 I built up the courage to leave University and start full time work. Sadly, with my limited experience, full time work meant three/four days a week working for as a casual sales assistant with ‘Sheridan Australia’ in David Jones. Talking to people, having friends at work, being active and doing things with my day started to bring me out of my shell, and gave me the beginnings of self-confidence. At the end of 2005, I had my 21st birthday party – a small gathering of all the people I loved most in the world. 2006 was a pretty big year for me, I still regard it (along with 2007) as the year that shaped me as the person I am today. Halfway through 2006 I interviewed for a second job, as I wasn’t getting enough hours at Sheridan. This new job was for a casual position at a bookstore in a mall and after a bit of a trial (aka stocktake) I got the job. I started working at ‘QBD The Bookshop’ in August 2006, and that’s where I met some of the best nerds I know. Working in the bookshop really was a dream job. I got to talk to people about books all day! I also bought a lot of books (unloading boxes = one for the shelf, one for me) which made me happy. I worked at QBD for just under three years. In 2007 I went on my first proper overseas trip as an adult – a Contiki tour of Europe. Two months of travelling around Europe, meeting people I am still friends with 7 years later, and experiencing life outside of my bubble – it instilled in me self-confidence and a love of travel (which would become an expensive habit in the years to come), and it was probably two months of the best fun I’d ever had – or will ever have – in my life. It also turned me in to an alcoholic and ruined my stomach. 2008 was the year I realised that my spending habits far outweighed my current casual sales assistant status and I somehow managed to get in to the Public Service on a temporary contract doing data entry for Medicare Australia. Later that year I was called back to be a helpdesk officer for Medicare Online Services. I was made a permanent Public Servant in early 2009, just before I went on an around-the-world trip. My sister was doing her gap year, so Mum and I headed to the UK (and Turkey) for 8 weeks. I then headed to the US and Canada on my own, before meeting some of the girls in Hawaii on the way home. 2009 was the year my friends started having babies, and so a little bit more light and joy came in to my world – I am lucky enough to be dubbed “Aunty Orin” by a few little ladies. Unfortunately 2009 was also marred by some health issues, both at the beginning of the year (eff you hormones) and at the end of the year (eff you stomach). I saw in my 25th year with a candle inside a piece of Italian bread, instead of cake. 2010 saw me returning to Europe (third time in four years…) for Skye and Ad’s wedding, with a few weeks of exploring the continent for good measure. Ben and I moved in to a shared flat in December 2010, and thus Huxtabing was born. The next two years saw lots of movie nights, pizza and noodle nights, and Ben sitting around play X-box while I watched (I miss Red Dead Redemption). 2011 was the year I decided to make some changes in my life. I cut out a toxic friendship, I started spending more time with friends, and it was also the year my foodie obsession took full flight. I spent a lot of money on going out that year (and the years to follow…I still do). I went to New Zealand at the end of 2011, to spend my birthday at Milford Sound, with my friend Jacquie. Our plane was delayed home due to an earth quake, but we made it home in time for Christmas. Sadly, Christmas 2011 was not to be the happy occasion that one comes to expect – Christmas morning I found out that one of my best friends had drowned the night before. Jimmy’s death and the subsequent events (his wife Andrea’s suicide) are all I can think about when I think of 2012. My brother and I went to America in May to visit our sister who was doing exchange in New York, but even then my mind was on what was going on at home. Jimmy and Andrea’s deaths affected me in many ways, including the desire to do everything you want, when you can. 2012 was also the year my parent’s separated, the year I got salmonella and the year I found out I was allergic to sulphur (thanks to an allergic reaction that resulted in a trip to the hospital and three weeks off work). 2012 was not a good year, in fact I regard it as the worst year of my life. The only good thing to come out of that year was my impulse, grief motivated (it was two days after Andrea’s death), purchase of a 1 bedroom apartment in Wright. At the end of 2012 I moved back home with Mum – timed splendidly with her car crash (the weekend I moved, she was in hospital) – to save money for South America and for my apartment. The highlight of 2013 was definitely my trip to South America, in October and November. Seven weeks exploring somewhere totally unlike anywhere I’d ever been before…well, that was amazing! I got really bad altitude sickness, but still managed to get to Machu Picchu. I smoked cigars in Cuba, wandered Copacabana Beach, avoided doing Tango dancing in Buenos Ares (because I’m unco and that stuff weirds me out). The last year of my twenties, 2014, has been the year I got my shit together. I got stomach surgery, I lost 30 kilos, I applied to do a course in Screenwriting (something I’ve wanted to do for a long time), I’ve been saving for my mortgage, and I started this blog. And so I say goodbye to my twenties, a little thinner and a lot happier than I was a decade ago. I’ve learnt a lot in the last ten years, and I’ve come to understand myself as a person (faults and all). I’m looking forward to what the next ten years brings.