Um hi everybody. My words are all a mess in my head whenever I sit and try to write this. A beautiful mess. A mess of faces – thousands of them – all shapes and ages and shades. A mess of conversations. Snapshotted moments. Of emotions. This post should really be called Phases Of My Heart. Like phases of the moon, but way more unpredictable.
I’d say these past few months have been a rollercoaster. Sure, it’s a cliche, but sometimes the reason things get said so much is because they’re true. Not always, but sometimes. Anyway. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve definitely felt sick, I’ve been packed in a small space with a group of people, I’ve clung on for dear life and I’ve come very very close to screaming several times. And yet …I’ve loved it???
Driving round the entire coast of the UK living on a tenner a day with your family in a tiny camper van is hard, y’all. Giving everything up to try and make a difference in a crazy world is hard. It’s hard when you’re questioning what the hell you’re even doing, whether people even care, trying to find a way forward, trying to survive and thrive and function in such a tiny space. Yeah. Sometimes it’s crazy. Sometimes it’s oppressive. I knew it would be tough, but I’m motivated. I push through. We all do. But it’s hard. It’s hard when we’re all sitting in heavy silence in yet another supermarket car park and I can feel the tension in my stomach. It’s hard when I’m physically pushing myself to keep going, keep smiling, when mentally and emotionally I’m crying on the floor. It’s hard when all our voices rise above each other, filled with fear and tears and frustration. Its hard when it’s all too much and I feel like throwing up. It’s hard when no one gets it right.
But when we do – when we do get it right – it’s incredible. That’s what I’ve been wanting to tell you about. About all the incredible people I’m meeting, all the lessons I’ve learnt, what I’ve experienced. What I’ve made happen. It’s tumbling out of me and I’m afraid this is going to be a mess. I’ve decided just to let it be what it is.
I’ve spent four hours painting faces at a barbecue that was all about welcoming refugees from all over the world into the community, we laughed together even though we didn’t all speak the same language and ate the most ridiculously delicious food I’ve ever had in my entire life, cooked together by people from so many different cultures. I’ve spent time with people who’ve hit absolute rock bottom in their lives and then made the life or death decision to rise up and bring others with them. I’ve witnessed their strength and motivation. I was never a shy person before, but I’ve learnt to genuinely smile when the hundredth person of the day knocks on the van door and asks me about the challenge. I’ve learnt to believe in what I’m doing enough to walk into a cafe or restaurant, tell them about our challenge and ask if they’ll fill up our water tank, even though I used to dread asking people for anything because it felt wrong to me. I don’t know why. I’ve learnt about different people and places and what makes them who they are.
I’ve swam in the freezing cold sea, huge waves crashing over me and felt that power and elation and freedom. I’ve stood up in front of a group of strangers my age and talked about our journey and how we, as young people, are not helpless or hopeless and how we can make a difference. I’ve made so many new friends, given hugs and received them. I’ve jumped off of cliffs into the icy water below, been swimming in the sea at midnight to see bioluminescence which looks like tiny fairy lights underwater and I’ve climbed the highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland. I’ve learnt how to harness the positive power of social media, make connections and use hashtags. I’ve also gotten used to going for days without wifi.
I’ve met other young people determined to make a difference and been inspired by them. I’ve experienced the true meaning and definition of community and seen how people can come together, care about one another and make their town or city a better place. I’ve drunk endless cups of tea in strangers houses, chatted to countless people on the streets or in car parks. I’ve achieved some of my dreams, qualifying as a bosun and sailing to Holland and back. I’ve marched through city streets for equality and acceptance. I’ve cooked for people. I’ve danced all night. I’ve experienced so much kindness.
I’ve met people who are so dedicated, so full of energy and ideas and visions that I’ve been so excited by the fact that hopefully one day I can be like them. I’ve (almost) stopped panicking when someone invites us for lunch or wants to give us something because I just feel so uncomfortable taking from people. I’ve learnt to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and allow them to be part of our journey.
Yes, I’ve burned myself out, giving and giving and giving. I’ve spent entire days on my phone, writing long posts for our social media, planning where we’re going to visit next, corresponding with people in communities all around the coast, phone calls and emails, one after another. I’ve used all my energy up and still been an exhausted mess of emotions at the end of the day, ready to explode or run away or cry.
I’ve cried a LOT.
Even on days when I’ve decided that I’ve got to take a break and get outdoors and live in the moment, I have to keep checking my phone because I know what some of the people I love and care about the most are going through and it kills that there’s nothing I can do except be there for them when they need me. So I make sure I’m always there. Always ready for the tearful phone calls and mid-breakdown rants. I have to accept that all I can do is love them and try to help in whatever way I can and make sure they don’t go through it alone. That’s all I can do and some days it just doesn’t feel like enough. But I’m insanely grateful for them and for the fun we have and the conversations which I won’t even talk about because we would get judged so bad haha. I’m so grateful that they trust me and that we’re there for each other. Even though I can’t be with them, they mean the world and more.
I’ve learned that some people aren’t worth crying over and that staring at your phone screen willing them to text you or sending message after message won’t make them care. I’ve learned both how deep and how shallow people can be.
That’s what it’s like. Life’s tough and I’ve got it so much easier than most people. But one of the biggest lessons I’m learning is that when you get out there and try to make a difference, you absolutely will. If you have a positive attitude, you will find like-minded people, people will get onboard with what you’re doing and you will not be alone.
This whole experience has been incredible and I feel like I’m a different person to the girl who started it almost five months ago. I’ve been places and met people I never thought I ever would and been part of things I never thought I ever could be.
I now know a whole lot more about who I am and who I want to be.
If you take that step into the unknown I can’t promise you that it won’t be scary and that you won’t struggle. You will. But since when did anyone ever achieve anything without coming up against hardships?
Honey, it might be a mess, but it’ll be a beautiful one because its born out of your desire for change.
So how’s everyone?? Tell me absolutely everything you’ve been up to and all the beautiful messes you’ve been creating!! I’m so happy to be writing on this blog again. I’ve been posting daily on our social media (Round The UK On A Tenner A Day – look us up), but I’ve missed having my own personal space to write and rant and ramble. Remember that if anyone ever wants to talk, pls hmu, no one goes through anything alone on my watch 😉 love to you all x