I can’t believe that today marks the 8th year anniversary since I boarded a plane with Catariya & my mum.

Orsi Cata Barcelona

I started this blog 1½ day before I left Sweden as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family back home and around the world, but I never thought it would still be going after so much time!

A lot has happened since I first started writing and going through my old posts I can’t help but to think that I was so young & so extremely naive. It’s a bit like reading your childhood diaries  – some of it is so cringe worthy…

But despite that I do have to give my 19 year old self credit for having the balls to leave everything she knew about life behind and move to a place where she didn’t know anybody.  I probably wouldn’t be as brave today as I was back then.

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So I have a lot of respect for that girl because despite her naive views on life and love, she powered through some of the most difficult times and lows, and I don’t really know how the hell she had the inner strength to do it (although I bet you it was most likely stubbornness and the deeply rooted view that “failing” was not an option) but I am extremely happy that she did because she helped me realise / come to terms with the following things throughout the years:

Be patient

We live in a time where we expect an incredibly quick turnaround on almost everything in our lives. The truth is, real change takes time. Whether that is getting a diploma, becoming fitter, advancing in your career, saving up money to buy a home, building new (or old) relationships. It used to get me down when I didn’t see instant change until I started running. That monumental change in my life made me realise that it takes time for all these seeds in life to grow and blossom. And even if it is hard at times, you have to be patient and persistent, and most importantly, you should not give up if something goes wrong. Just accept it, forgive yourself and move on.

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Learn to forgive yourself

I am known to hold grudges forever, mainly with myself, but on occasions when it comes to others too. It has taken a lot of work to start forgiving myself for certain things in my life. I know that Im still very harsh on myself, but I am slowly learning how to pick my battles. It’s not easy, especially when you have a habit of over-analysing everything, but I am trying because I know that some things are simply not worth working myself up about.

Messy cake

Don’t waste money

I’ve never been super irresponsible when it comes to money, my mum is an accountant and my parents own their own businesses, so it’s been hammered in me from an early age that money is something you work hard for. But life was very different as a student and when I wasn’t living on my own… This year was the toughest financial year in my “adult” life and after living on a £10 a day budget since February, I can’t begin to explain how angry I have been at my younger self for spending stupid amounts of money on ridiculous things that I deep down knew I either didn’t need or want. I swear, if I would’ve saved all that money I spent on needless purchases I would have an amazing pension by now… Now I am all about the budget – I plan my purchases and I keep all my receipts so I know where the money is going. Every little counts!

I bet you'd be scared if you saw me walking down the street

Love is (sadly) not enough

I used to believe that love was the answer to everything. If you had and gave love things would work themselves out because in my head, Love = Happiness. Sadly, if my last few relationships thought me anything, it was that love is not enough to build a lasting and happy relationship. It made me incredibly upset when I came to terms with this because I had more or less based my entire life around that notion. I guess I was too naive, too caught up in a fantasy, but I believed it so much that even when I could see and feel how unhappy love was making me, I blamed myself rather than accepting the truth. Then it all came crumbling down and I had to face my demons. It was hard, but Im in a much better place thanks to it.

Orsii crying again

Believe in you

It’s not a secret that during my “youth” I wasn’t the most confident person on the planet, mainly due to always being chubby and never really feeling like I was as good as everybody else. When my first three years at university didn’t really turn out the way I expected, it was a massive blow to my confidence because it made me feel stupid and it made me doubt myself on so many more levels. It’s only recently that I have started to have more confidence in myself and my skills, and without being too arrogant, Im starting to realise how important it is to believe in yourself and your skills/thoughts/feelings. There is only one you, so why pretend to be somebody else when you can work on making you the best that you can be.

Orsii Gun Finger

Invest in yourself

This is something my mum has always told me, but I didn’t really understand what she meant until last year when I had to get treatment for my stomach illness. I have been fortunate enough to have a family who have supported me through university and through things like private medical help. But it was only when I was working hard on my MA degree and struggling with my treatment that it hit me that no matter how hard it was at the moment, this was something I was doing to make sure I would have a better life in the future. Knowledge and health are two amazing things that if you have them, people can’t really take them away from you. It’s the best investment you can make – you only live once, why not make the best you can of it?

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Trust in your struggle

It is so damn easy to get caught up in your own head and during times of struggle, you look around and see all these other people in your surroundings who seem to be having an amazing life, and you ask yourself WHY!? Why is my life not as amazing as theirs!? And it is beyond STUPID! But it happens. I’ve spent many lonely days and nights crying into my pillow, feeling like I was dealt a shit hand and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t change my situation. Despite being unsuccessful to brush off these feelings from time to time over the years, I had a defining moment this year that changed everything. I had truly hit rock bottom and when I thought life couldn’t get any worse, it did. But then there was a silver lining, and somewhere between the tears and the happiness it dawned on me that nobody could take away the struggles and the hard work I have done. They might not get it why I do it, they might not relate to my problems, but it doesn’t matter. It was my own choice to walk this path, so I have no other choice but to accept that it won’t be easy, but if I do what I truly feel in my heart that I should be doing, there will be light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be patient.

haters gonna hate

Don’t forget to say “I’m sorry” or “I love you”

It is easy to get caught up in life and forget to appreciate the people around you that mean the most to you. You start taking people for granted because you are busy, and then you wonder why nobody wants to make time for you when you need it. Im epically bad to stay in touch, and due to financial and health related issues the last few years, I basically stopped being very social. However, I have tried to nurture some of the relationships in my life and I feel like the key to make them work has been to be able to look past my stupid pride and say sorry when I have been an idiot, and make sure that those persons have felt and known how much they mean to me, even if I haven’t been able to see them as often as I might have wished. I know, saying sorry or I love you are very basic things, but I think their impact if you really mean them can be very overlooked. Never go to bed angry and fighting, and never give up a chance to tell a person you care about how much they mean to you and how happy they make you.

Dave Cata Orsi September 2012

It has been an EPIC ride and I can’t believe that I am entering this new phase in my life that includes knowing how to deal with my stomach issues (it’s taken me 20 years!), owning my own flat in London (OMFG!!), finishing my MA degree and just generally having more knowledge about who I am and who I want to become.

Thanks for sticking with me – your support and encouragement has meant so much to me! Here’s for another 8 crazy years! <3

Dear Catariya,

Today is your 26th birthday (happy birthday!!) and in a way, it also marks our 10 year anniversary as friends.

Cata at fiket playing UNO

I will never forget the day I asked about your last name and it turned out that your cousin was my first love.

It took me 2½ years to get over him and despite the fact that I might still be slightly messed up because of how things ended with him, I look back and see how that extreme heartbreak was necessary because it led me to one of the biggest loves of my life – you.

Cata and Neil at Fiket

We haven’t always seen eye to eye on things in the past, like the whole Neil / Dave situation / soap opera that happened in high school…

But despite our differences and despite both of us being incredibly stubborn, we managed to find our way back to each other and we had a lot of fun during that whole process.

We went to Prague, not once, but twice!

Mia and Cata on Prague trip

Cata and Dave Prague trip

Neil and Cata Prague trip

Cata and Dave on the boat in Prague

(as you can see there – neil / dave / neil / dave haha)

We spent a lot of our time studying at fiket and generally having a typical teenage high school life with parties like IB awards (I love how you still wear that red lipstick!)

Cata and Dave at IB awards

Prom nights at the Hilton

Dave and Cata at prom

Cata at prom

And crazy trips going skiing in the alps, mini breaks in London and graduation party holiday in Barcelona

Mia and Cata - Girls night out in Barcelona, dinner at seafood place

Cata and Orsi - Girls night out in Barcelona getting drunk & dancing

Cata hung over in Barcelona

Orsi and Cata very hung over in Barcelona (you in my Nina Simone tee!)

You were the one who convinced me to move to London in 2005 and not take a gap year. I will never forget arriving at Kings Cross and walking around the corner by Scala to catch a cab.

I’m scared to think about how my life would have turned out if you wouldn’t have given me courage and that extra push I needed to move here and follow my dreams.

The three years we spent at university were pretty strange and we kind of drifted apart, even though we met up once in a while.

Remember making sushi in my disgusting & tiny halls of residence and getting absolutely TRASHED at the bar we had there on like Martini and £1 shots in the bar?

Cata making Sushi at halls

Cata at James Leicester Halls

I was always a bit jealous of the new friends that you made during our uni years. Not because I wasn’t making friends, but because it felt like they completely stole you away from me. And even though I made new friends, none were ever as good as you & the IB crew…

I’m sure you have lots of great memories from your uni years, I found this picture of you from one of your uni parties (not sure when it was or where, but its the only one I have of you that I didn’t take).

Cata at some UCL party

I will never forget the drunken argument we had at Cargo when Ina was visiting us. You know… that time when all my frustration and anger and sadness about us and our friendship just came out.

I think that was a turning point in our friendship because you made me a promise that night that you would change and try to be a better friend, and you really kept that promise ever since.

So we both started making more efforts to see each other and do things together.

Like that one day festival we went to in Finsbury Park

Cata and Orsi at Finsbury Park

Uni graduation celebrations

Dave Martin and Cata at UCL unofficial mini graduation party

Cata and Orsi at UCL unofficial mini graduation party

Eurovision nights

Dave and Cata Eurovision

Cata and Dave Schlager

Birthdays (yours and mine)

Cata Dave Orsi - Orsi 24th Bday

Neil and Cata - Joint 24th Bday

Cata - Orsi's Harry Potter themed 25th bday

Random Fika catch ups or drinks or meals whenever we could fit it in

Catch up din dins with Cata

Not to mention the fantastic BBQs at Russell Avenue

Cata first BBQ

Cata and Orsi first BBQ

Cata deep in thought about life at second BBQ

Cata smiling at second BBQ

We’ve survived several awkward boy incidents, totally fucked up living incidents with insane landlords and flats burning down, stressful job situations, tight budget and no money periods, depression, illness, loneliness – you name it, we did it and we made it!

We even survived a damn half marathon together!!

Cata and Orsi Amsterdam Half Marathon

I can’t thank you enough for being my friend because I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for you.

It hasn’t always been easy for us, but our friendship has been tested and survived so many things during these past 10 years.

It has grown, evolved and matured, and I know with confidence and love that no matter what happens in my life, you will be there for me, just like I will be there for you.

So a big happy birthday again on your very special day!

I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you as my best friend.

Love you