I used to run away from my problems.

Two summers in a row I headed to the United States of America and worked two jobs that I didn’t really love, and I did it all because I wanted to get away from Northern Ireland. Ever since I moved home after graduating from university I’ve spent so much time trying to get out of here, of travelling elsewhere, of being somewhere, anywhere, other than here.

But last week, after what is now 21 months of living in Northern Ireland, I realised that it’s not where you are that matters, but what you do with that place.

After what I now realise is only a few months of incredibly hard work and determination I’m finally well on my way to living the life I want to live. I’ve lost a lot in the process; I’ve walked away from the Church, I’ve let a lot of people behind, I’ve totally changed how I live. But I’ve grown a stronger backbone, a thicker skin, I’ve made some truly amazing, inspiring friends, I’ve realised who I want to be and how I want my life to be and chased after the things I want like there’s no tomorrow, I’ve found an industry that I’m passionate about and I’ve taken so many steps to finally start my career in it.

I’m beyond proud of myself for who I’ve become and who I’m becoming. Thinking back on where I was a year ago, or even six months ago, I never thought I’d be where I am today when I was stuck in a crappy job feeling like I had nothing to look forward to.

After having got the call on Thursday evening from my new employer to say I’d got the job for the interview I’d had only a few hours before, my next step is moving to Belfast. I’ll never love Bangor; I just can’t. But I can tolerate it while I have to be here. I spend 80% of my time (if not more) in Belfast these days and I really don’t have much keeping me in this town any more. I would be working and living in Belfast already if it had been possible but life has worked out in perfect time. Everything just feels right; I wouldn’t have been capable of doing the job I’m starting this week before Christmas and I’m happy enough to work for a month or so before starting to look for places to live.

I’m also competing in a cookery competition next month which is something I never would have been able to do until recently. I just seemed to gain all this confidence and I don’t know where it came from but I absolutely love it.

Learning to be content where I am, to stop wanting to keep running away because it seemed easier, was the hardest thing to do. A while ago a friend told me that I needed to be okay here before I could be okay everywhere else, and she was right, I just never realised how long it would take me to finally be okay. But after months of hard work, and refusing to quit because it was hard, I’m finally at a point where I’m pretty content with my current situation.

I found this brilliant article that a friend had linked on my Facebook news feed and I just wanted to share a quote from it with you all, something that I can relate to 100%:

“There is bravery in travelling, but there is bravery in staying home, too. There is bravery in staying still long enough for everything to catch up with you, in trusting that whatever it is, it won’t drag you down. Because it hurts like hell when there’s nowhere to run, when the only place to circle is within the confines of your own addled brain. I lie awake at night trying to figure out ways to escape the barbed wire thoughts closing in. Every memory digs a little deeper into my skin.”

I am so fucking brave for staying here and letting life catch up with me.



Life as I know it.

I’ve wanted to write for a while but every time I sat down to do so my heart wasn’t in it. But, finally, I’m ready.

Since admitting to the world that I was walking away from the Church I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier or more free in my whole life. I’ve been doing yoga and meditation, I haven’t worried about not being married, I’ve been loving college. I feel like I spent so long believing that any strength I had was in God rather than myself that I forgot how strong I am, and I almost put myself down for not being as strong as him. I was constantly trusting in some higher being to help me do things but, now that I’m free from all of that and have seen just how strong I am, I’ve been able to conquer so many of my fears and I’m consistently happy for the first time in my life.

I’ve thought a lot about religion in general. It’s easier to look at all religions when I’m not a part of one, and it baffles me how similar they are, how they all have an agenda. I think there’s something out there guiding us, I believe that the universe makes things go the way they do and that everything happens for a reason, but I don’t know if it’s something like a god. I think the part that annoys me the most is knowing that I’ll now become a project for some people; they’ll start praying for me but will continue to barely say a word to me and, even when they do, there will always be some sort of intention behind it. I’ve accepted my decision not to be a Christian any more, I just hope that everyone around me can.

I think I stuck to Christianity for so long because it was the easy thing for me to do. I was too scared to walk away from it because it was my comfort zone, I didn’t have a clue what to do without it. But now I’m learning and figuring out life without God and it isn’t all roses but it’s certainly going a lot better than I thought it would. I love all the friends I’ve gained in the past few months, they mean the world to me and they’re far more genuine than a lot of the people I knew before.

Last summer I helped with a kids club in County Cavan and I loved it and was so certain I’d be back again this summer, but I no longer believe what they preach. Before I started college I planned to finish this year and then head to Canada for the foreseeable future, but I’ve just applied for another year in college and might do another year after that if things go well. It’s crazy how inconsistent humans are but that’s why life is so beautiful, nothing stays the same, everything changes and we grow and we open ourselves up to new experiences and walk away from old ones, and if we’re happy that’s all that matters.