I started this year stressed and scared, but unbelievably excited.
My partner and I decided late in 2017, that an interstate move would be in our best interests and started prepping just a few months prior to the move. We started by selling major possessions. This process was not easy, but I had learned to disassociate most feelings of attachment, due to the difficulty in moving four times in the two prior years. eBay, gumtree, weekend markets, giveaways, leave-behinds and the dreaded 'straight to the garbage'.
The most memorable artefact of this minimalism was an $80 pair of shoes that I gave away at the markets. This experience has taught me a valuable lesson about the true value of things. "You'll find out things are only worth as much as someone is willing to haggle for it", my partner would say. And if something isn't bringing you joy, you should probably get rid of it, or upgrade it.
The whole point of this hard work, which really did take months - was to get all our junk to fit into our two cars. No trailers, no trucks. We wanted to do the 12-hour drive from Newcastle to Melbourne in a weekend, and we did. We did it in one day. We had no home waiting for us, no furniture, and most scary: I had no job waiting for me. I had faith that security would come for us in time, but we each had our own motives for this move. Beyond career progression opportunities or having a new amazing city to explore - we wanted the sea change. I felt stagnant and increasingly isolated in Newcastle. I felt like my entire world had been consumed by my job - to the point where I couldn't think about anything else. Working long, often tedious hours, as most of my colleagues were, and feeling as though my creative pursuits were suffering. I needed something huge to shake things up and help to reset things. I needed a mental health day that I couldn't come back from!
Our new neighbourhood
We were approved for a 1.5-bedroom apartment in Prahran East, just a few short days after arriving in Melbourne in the middle of the night to a cheap B&B and our first delivered food. Our home is close to a tram line that takes us to the city in about 20 minutes. We're very close to Chapel St which is home to shops, restaurants and cafes. The area is just the right blend of clean, beautifully maintained tree-lined streets with BMW's and seedy dive bars. Setting up the house really didn't take long. Just a couple of weekends and we were able to furnish with a combination of furniture and appliances we found cheap online. We both got a little obsessive about some of those deals. But it's all been very satisfying to start-again, and only spend money on the things we know we need, will use, will love. You don't get many opportunities to do that in life. So, we made sure to do it right.
Honestly, a good chunk of the "point of living in Melbourne" may be lost on me. I don't really enjoy shopping that much - and I've made my peace with the fact that I'm not much of a night-owl. I get my work done early in the morning, and spend my days trying to be as productive as possible, before setting in for a good night's rest. That's not to say we haven't done our fair share of exploring. I spent the first month or two here unemployed, which gave me some time to get to know the place - but the biggest gains have been slow gains. My favorite things about the city were revealed to me at a glacial pace. My photo library is packed full of flowers and cacti from the Royal Botanic Gardens, graffiti walls in Prahran and the CBD, and a bunch of different bagels I've tried (shout out to AVIV in Elsternwick).
Trying to find work while we were still in NSW was super draining, but in retrospect, didn't take too long - and was itself a learning experience. Firstly, I had to come to terms with my imposter syndrome. I had trouble believing myself to be qualified or skilled enough to make a good impression and portray myself as a right fit in an interview. I worked hard on overcoming these fears (eg. I spent about 8 hours practicing speaking on the drive to Melbourne). I worked frantically on a redesign of my site, which involved learning the basics of React JS and the headless Contentful CMS, as well as a new deployment on Netlify. I collected up samples of my work and made portfolio pages that I could talk through in interviews. I applied for probably 50 roles of varying quality:commitment:soulcrush ratio. I spoke with countless recruiters and made some good connections. I interviewed a handful of times at the better opportunities, all while working on freelance jobs.
The hardest part was deciding what I was truly looking for. It came down to two offers for me, one would have been an incredibly lucrative, short-term, but high stress role and the other, a casual role at an institution that I admired and could see myself doing great work for. I took the casual role and I'm so glad I did, and so grateful to them to have received an offer. That decision was so important to me because I didn't want to end up in the same place as before. I don't want money or mood to dictate my choices, I want my values to dictate my choices. And right now, I value taking care of myself and my partner, first. The benefit to all of this has been increasingly satisfying work - because my time now has a sense of value.
I have learnt so much and worked on so many interesting projects at NGV this year. Jobs of note have been the microsite for MEL&NYC, exhibition pages for Baldessin/Whiteley, Julian Opie, and The Field Revisited. I feel more confident and valued for my work and working on accessibility concerns on the website has me feeling as though my work makes a real difference. The year has also been rounded off nicely for me, with the OOTS website winning Best Website 2018 at the NEWi awards back in Newcastle.
This move has been a slow journey toward self-growth and personal discovery. I am much more dedicated to my own self-care and therapy, to the point where I am confident enough to:
A) Admit to myself that I suffer from depression and anxiety (mood disorder).
B) Talk about it openly with friends and family and ask for help when I need it.
I've got a lot more to work on, but I feel safe enough now to work inside the parameters that I know allow me to do my best work and live my best life.
Anyways, that's why I moved interstate.