Without trying to sound cliché, generic, or full of shit, everything does work out eventually; you just need to give it time, patience, put in the work, and let the universe do it’s thing.
This time last year I was still studying down in Dunedin, struggling through the last bit of my first semester. Each day I tried to drag myself out of bed and to the library to study for exams I knew I was going to fail. And if I couldn’t to do this, I’d lie in my bed all day; thick black curtains still drawn, maybe I’d crawl out of my room for food or a shower before crawling back under the covers for the rest of the day.
This time last year I was at one of the lowest points in my life, sinking even further into my depression and definitely not dealing with anything properly. I’d half-assed tried to see a specialist, who I decided I just couldn’t get on with, I tried to go to the gym once and never went back, and I tried to go to my classes but it was all just too hard.
I can’t exactly put it all into words, but even simple tasks were a struggle. If I got out of bed and had a shower that was awesome, If I made it out of the flat and to uni, then holy fucking shit. I did 3 exams, and missed 1 because I mucked up the days. I un-enrolled from Uni, I went on a trip to Wanaka, and then I came back to Dunedin, packed up my shit and left it all behind.
Although leaving was so hard, it was the best decision I’ve made so far. I couldn’t even look after myself, and, in turn, I wasn’t contributing to my flat and put my flat mates into an uncomfortable and unfair situation. I wasn’t even myself anymore, I wasn’t enjoying anything either, I was just a zombie pushing through each day.
Not coping frustrated me as I had loved studying, loved all of my friends down there and just loved the environment in general. Otago Uni in particular (i felt) looked after it’s students so well, the student culture is so unique, so many cool people… but no matter what I did, I just could never be satisfied, I couldn’t keep up, and I was miserable.
One of the lowest points of my time in Dunedin (which I can laugh a little bit about now), is when I worked in a plastics factory for a family friend. I needed money and I felt like I couldn’t say no because the factory owner was a family friend. The reality of the job was so fucking miserable and quite possibly the worst job for someone already quite depressed. I’d walk to this factory in the afternoon, it was a decent 30 minute walk, on the other side of the train tracks and through the industrial area of Dunners.
I’d clock in, put on a lab coat and a hairnet, then stack plastic meat trays for hours. This massive roll of plastic would get melted/stamped out into these trays which would slide off this machine where it was my job to collect them, stack them in piles that weigh 100g, put them in a box, stack a bunch in there, tape up the box a there ya go. There was another machine which made these little plastic caps which again you had to stack and collect as the machine pumped them out. The whole place stinks like melted plastic fumes, it’s the most mindless work ever, you have to wear ear plugs so no music, there’s a constant ringing of machines working, the environmental moral side of me is screaming, some of the other workers there are just out from prison (which I didn’t actually care that much about), ah it was just the weirdest time of my life. Then I’d walk all the way back home at midnight, hoping that I didn’t get mugged (it was the abandoned factory vibe), throw myself into bed and wonder what the fuck I was even doing.
When I got back to the North Island, I stayed with my family on the Thames Coast for a few months. For the first week or so I slept for like 14 hours a night. I was mentally and physically exhausted and I was so scared, like what am I even doing with my life right now.
Each day got better and better. My uncle taught me how to drive, we had driving lessons every day (which were the highlight!). I started baking a little bit more, I’d go for a walk on the beach, we’d have lunch and dinner together, watch movies, do crosswords – my life now was relatively normal and I was loving the structure. I started seeing a professional in Thames to help with my mental state, deal with the things I had put to the side or pushed down, and set goals for the future.
One of the most important things I learnt through seeing and talking to someone about how I was feeling, was to Know Your Truth. In my situation I went through some legal processes, which ended with a result that just wasn’t right. I can’t exactly explain how it feels to be told you are wrong, and be let down by a system meant to bring justice feels. It makes you crazy, it messes you up, it makes you feel worthless, and wonder what the whole point was in the first place. Not dealing with these feelings is what caused me to fall so far down.
What I have learnt now is some people can tell the truth, and know their truth, and others can just manipulate and pay their way out of the truth. What’s important is to always know your truth, despite what happens in the end. If you know your truth, and the people close to you know it too, then nothing else matters.
The other thing that has been awesome, is not feeling pressure to decide my next steps. I was given space to heal and create new motivations, and set new goals.
During my time on the coast I went on a Ski trip with my flatties in Queenstown (woohoo that was so so so much fun), I went to Melbourne with Moni and Carly, I knitted a couple of beanies, I got my restricted license, I sold my baking to a cafe in town… slowly I began achieving more and more (It’s amazing what you can achieve out of bed).
Mum and Dad came back from their lil overseas holiday in September, so I moved back to Whitianga with them. I felt capable now, and so grateful for the healing time on the coast, and I was ready to work.
I started work at Blue Ginger, where I’d worked at the summer before. I loved it here, it felt like home, and It was so rewarding working again, making some money, learning how to make coffee, and meeting more and more kind people.
The first couple of months back home were hard, you slowly discover who your friends are and aren’t, and maybe some people were only considered friends as I saw them every day at school. I mostly just hung out with my mum (because she’s cool!) but it was also really nice to get close again after such a rough past year.
I was loving Blue Ginger because I was always given the opportunity to bake, and sell my cakes on the counter. I created little business cards for Ainsley Bakes, my lil cake business, and started creating cakes to order. The support for my baking was overwhelming, and still is. I still can’t believe people want to buy cakes I make, and I have so many loyal customers too.
I put a vegan cake on the counter at Blue Ginger in October 2017, and since then, it’s been so popular. People would ring up just to order slices, travel for it, and be so disappointed when there was none there.
Summer came around quickly and I smashed through a busy holiday period at Blue Ginger, now with Moni and Marie with me too! We had fun, we catered some weddings and events, and made countless amounts of noodle bowls, poke bowls, bang bang salads…
February came so quickly and the girls were off back to Uni again. Still not sure what I was doing, I said I’d stay on for the month. Five months later and I’m still at Blue Ginger, and still living at home, but now is where the excitement begins.
I’ve met so many cool new people, I actually socialise on the weekends and do things! I still have orders coming in for my cakes, I’m working the weeks at the restaurant, I’ve got my lil routine pretty down.
My older sister Carly graduated in May, so we went down for the ceremony/celebration. I brushed up my CV and took it with me, and handed it to a cakery that was advertising a position. I didn’t get the job, but a week or so later, I saw Mr Go’s was advertising; a massive Asian Fusion restaurant in the CBD. This place is like Blue Ginger on steroids, it’s soo yummy too and they just crank out the food like it’s no tomorrow.
What the heck, I email in my CV, hands shaking as I type the email. Literally four hours later, after the dinner shift, I have a reply in my inbox. It’s positive, it’s exciting, holy fucking shit they like what they read?! They’re interested in me?! I reply instantly, answering their follow-up questions. A week went by and I’m sweating a bit. It’s been a while. There was a long weekend in between. Yeah maybe that’s why they haven’t replied, it’s Queens Birthday. Yeah, yeah that’ll be it. What if they’ve found someone else? Loads of people would’ve replied. Little fish, big pond.
Then just last week, I’m unpeeling a mandarin and I get an email! They want a phone interview! Oh my god!
Wednesday comes by, and 2.30pm (organised phone interview time) I lock myself in my room. Pen and paper in my hand. Phone rings, it’s all go.
What a cool interview. Positive, informative. I get given the whole history of the restaurant, which is so cool to know. Get given a few questions, and ask a few myself. The whole time I’m on the phone I’m just excited. Everything is so positive. (How many times have I said that?) They’ll get back to me on Friday before midday with an answer, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep until then.
The lunch shift Friday is crazy. I don’t want to leave my phone anywhere in case I miss it. 12.27pm (after midday so I was shitting myself) I get and email. Subject line ‘Offer of Employment’ and starting with Thrilled to offer you…
WHAT THE FUCK. That’s literally what I screamed out loud. I GOT IT! I GOT THE JOB!
I haven’t even met them in person, just from my CV and phone interview they liked what the saw (heard/read??). They’ve sussed me out. Realised I’m not a dodgy hoe, and that I’m actually so so excited and keen to learn.
We closed the restaurant early and cracked open a bottle of champagne. I’m shaking so much I can barely hold my glass.
So, this is new beginnings.
I’ve signed a flat in Karori, Wellington.
I have a trial period for the position of Junior Chef at Mr Go’s.
Next week I’m packing up and driving down with my best friend and partner in crime Moni, and I’m going to give this new start everything I’ve got.
In this rough, crazy year, I’ve come so far.
I’m so excited for this fresh start, I’m so excited to live in the same city as all my sisters, and I’m excited to learn so much more about kitchens, cooking, asian fusion and service.
Even though physically everyone isn’t right here, I’m surrounded by so many beautiful people, lovely souls, friends and family that just want the best for me and support me with every move I make. These people haven’t given up on me, have stuck through it all, and for that I am so grateful.
I think I’ve written this a million times, but I am beyond excited for this next move. Now is the right time, and I’m not sure had this offer come up sooner, If I would be ready. The universe works in it’s weird and mystic ways, and I’ve put in the work to grow again. It hasn’t been a quick or easy journey, but I’m here now.
To anyone else struggling right now with whatever it amy be, it does get better (even though you think that it’s the worst thing to be told). It takes time, sometimes a lot of time, and effort, and tears, and hugs, but you will get there. I’m getting there. And in the end you just have to back yourself.
So much has changed in a year from me. I’ve gone from being moderately depressed, one of the lowest periods of my life, to now being happy, with new opportunities on the horizon. Not even the horizon, it’s happening so soon!
I was so scared about moving home, and it felt like I was moving backwards, but the time has really really helped me get better. I’ve ended up staying for a lot longer than I ever imagined, but never underestimate the healing power of time and being with your family.
It hasn’t been easy, it’s been wonderful, it’s been shit, I’ve been up, gotten down, but gotten back up again. I still take medication to help me, and I try to talk about things when they come up instead of pushing them away, I’m moving forward now (watch out world!)
To finish this now very long blog post, I’m going to finish it with a quote from the now -late Anthony Bourdain.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.
Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
― Anthony Bourdain