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  • Milly Bannister

HOW TO GROW #blessed

For one full year, I lived in a foreign country. I traveled the United States relentlessly on 41 different flights, lay my head on hundreds of different pillows, I worked for myself and my own brand as a lifestyle journalist, I attended college, I threw my cap in the air and got a degree, I fell for stupid boys and shitty friendships but I laughed and loved like I never have before. I was the most vulnerable and the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life, but also the most alive. 

The best part of all of this is not the fact that my parents are proud of me or that my friends think I’m cool or or that I look worldy on social media. It’s the personal growth. It’s a crazy, (almost existential crisis inducing) feeling looking back on my existence in my writing, my photos, my relationships and mental state exactly one year ago. Yes, I was a different person, that’s cliche, but what’s most interesting is understanding what happened between then and now, in every little experience and relationship that touched me, providing the greatest learning opportunity of my life. 

How did I cure my anxiety of travelling alone? I got on and off a plane almost once a week, (thanks to staff travel rates). How did I find friends in foreign cities? I found someone I had a genuine connection with and expanded my circle from there. How did I finance my adventures? I was conservative, smart and found ways to make money from my passion in social media. These are all obvious answers, in writing, but harder to make happen in life. We can plan every little part of our day to the minute, but it doesn’t mean we will actually live it out. Shit happens and you’ve got to be open to it, like my hands are to a Jamba Juice and a slice of pizza 6/7 days a week, and whatever else life throws at me. 

Here are some abstract nouns that have helped me compartmentalise my experience. Friendship: It makes the world go round. My experience is this experience because of the people I have met abroad. When I moved to the Silicon Valley a year ago, I knew nobody, not a soul, now, I am surrounded my several key people who have turned ‘travelling back to San Jose’ into ‘coming home’. The very first person I met was my room mate Nav, who left a sticky note on my door, “I’m at work but if you need anything feel free to grab it from my room or call me if you need.” I live with her off campus now and she’s one of my best friends. It’s now like that for me in multiple different cities. Whenever I have to say a sad goodbye, I get to say a happy hello in the same day. I didn’t just try and be friends with whoever crossed my path, I simply let myself be open to people who I may have typically not approached before. I made it a priority to be myself in social situations. One of the biggest things I have learned this year, is that people will love you for you, making the relationship so much richer. I love who I am around these people, and it feels good, because I don’t have to be anyone else, just me.

Faith: I was baptised as a baby, attended church to the point that I now ‘pick and choose,’ for lack of a better term, the relevant Christian values that resonate with my life. I’m a good person, not for Jesus, or my Mum, or my primary school teachers, but for myself because I always treat others how I would want to be treated and I strongly believe in karma. This year though, during such an overwhelming transition, I found myself thanking the Universe and ‘God’ for his guidance and consecration over my journey. When I experience turbulence and uncertainty, I try and remember to have faith that everything is unfolding as it should, everything happens for a reason and whatever is meant to be, will be. Maintaining a positive attitude and belief that, ‘I am competent and successful and very, very blessed,’ has definitely opened my energy up to more positive experiences. What you think is what you are. Love: Ahh, see this has completely ruled my world this year. I do everything out of love: love for myself, love for my family and friends, love for my career, love for my passions, love for this boy I met on Instagram, love for animals, food, adventures and love for new experiences. Love is the only reason I do anything. My love for Australia (home), and my family and friends there has intensified because of the distance. My appreciation for pure, good people has and understanding of how to treat others, whilst remaining true to my sometimes abrupt personality, has been nurtured by the rapid rate at which I meet copious amounts of new people. There’s nothing better than being foreign to start a conversation. First and foremost, my love for who I am, and who I am becoming has become the most prominent, and that was something I wanted to explore this year. 

Wealth/Career: I’ve been learning lately, as money comes and goes, that it really is just an object. It shouldn’t define who you are. Sometimes, I get self-conscious because I have to limit my spending and I can’t splurge on things that other people in my circle do. Sometimes, I feel flat because I don’t have steady, hefty income. But, at the end of the day, I have everything I could ever wish for in my life. I have the most incredible foundation in my family and friends, I have excellent health, I have the ability to travel and I have a brain with a degree behind me to make smart choices and a passionate heart to push me towards my dreams. If we’re talking actual figures, I have spent quite a bit of money this year, but also earned some money and saved a lot of money. I can’t live the lifestyle I currently possess forever, without taking my job as a journalist seriously. My plan is to keep going with my online brand, in order to travel the world for another couple of years. I’m not ready to go into full-time work because I still have so much to see and so much to figure out. Not everyone understand my lifestyle, and sometimes neither do I, but I am living my dreams and doing things I never thought I would be able to do and that’s more than enough for me, despite my bank account going backwards, (for now). In terms of a career, I am simply giving myself a breath. I have been in some sort of education institution for 16 years straight, and as much as I absolutely love learning, I need a break in order to figure out other things and use my heart a little more than my pragmatic brain. I am simply moving towards my passions and work that I love to do, in order for me to integrate a ‘job’ into a lifestyle that works for me, because if there’s one single goal I wish to achieve in life, it’s to be ridiculously happy.