Hey, I’m Alysha.
Your average 22-year-old from the east coast of Australia with an innate desire to see the world. I love experiencing other cultures and ways of life and finding the beautiful things that bring us all together. I was born to Australian parents, and English/Maltese/Malay-Singaporean Grandparents – if you can get your head around that one. I’m a vegetarian/vegan and am constantly trying to find ways I can make a change. I’m learning Spanish and yoga, and am slowly getting there, with some hilarious confusion in the process. I love learning new things and accepting new challenges, and hearing other people’s perspectives and opinions on important topics. I also really enjoy watching sausage dogs running, conspiracy theories, and the feeling of Australian salt water on my skin.
I have been living with Generalised Anxiety and Panic Disorder for as long as I can remember, but never really knew what it was until I was officially diagnosed in 2014, and have been dealing with it ever since.
I guess the story of Adventurous Alysha begins at the end of my schooling years because I never had any idea what to do with myself. I never really had any career goals because I hadn’t found anything I was passionate enough about to follow forever. So I never went to university. It didn’t make sense to me to put so much time, effort, and money into something I wasn’t 100% passionate about. I’ve always loved writing, but I used to be really embarrassed about it. I mean my friends were all state players of netball or touch football, and here I was writing short stories in my spare time. It wasn’t really until year 10-12 that I realised writing was what I loved doing the most, and that wasn’t anything to be ashamed about.
After year 12 finished I went with a group of friends to Bali, Indonesia for ‘schoolies’, and it was the first time I left the country without my family. After 14 days experiencing another culture, even if I was just sinking Bintangs and eating barbequed corn cobs in Kuta, I fell in love with travel. I know that sounds super cliche, but for the first time in my life I was sure of something. So when I came home I decided I was going to do everything I could to keep that feeling alive.
I then completed a six-month course in Travel and Tourism with TAFE Australia (technical and further education). And that made me rule out ever wanting to be a travel agent. But it also really pushed my love for travel even further.
I was lucky enough to visit Thailand for my 19th birthday the next year, in 2014. And when I returned home, was offered a 75% scholarship to study Travel and Tourism with Flight Centre Travel Academy. Again, that just made me sure of another office job I never wanted to be involved in. Traveling two hours into Sydney CBD every day for work? No thanks.
So I was sort of stuck in the middle of finally finding my passion, and not knowing how to go about it. But I kept trying.
2014 was also the year that I was first diagnosed with anxiety, at the age of 19. I was told I suffer from Generalised Anxiety and Panic Disorder which can make the fire in my belly a little dim at times. But it didn’t really change me too much. A diagnosis doesn’t really change how you feel or give you the tools to beat it. It just sort of gives you peace that you haven’t completely lost your mind, and that you’re not the only one experiencing these things.
I still find it a little strange to use the words mental illness when I talk about it. Because I don’t feel sick like you’d imagine someone with an illness would. I just know I have bigger challenges than some people, and that I have to try a little harder.
I am always working different jobs to keep up my flow of travel funds. I’ve been a waitress, a kitchen hand, a bartender, a bar assistant, a salesperson, worked in garden maintenance, a retail sales assistant, and sometimes would help out my Mum’s accounting business. There have been times where I’ve worked three jobs at once just to make sure I can take off again as soon as possible. Working 13 hour days between two jobs on a Saturday night. Getting changed from one uniform to another in dark car parks and not finishing work until 4 am. Anything to make it all work.
I wanted to get a TESOL qualification and live out my days as a long-haired hippy in Cambodia because the country interested me. But I was a little unsure that diving into the deep end would work. So I took an 18 day trip around South East Asia in February 2015. And after too many panic attacks, I decided to look elsewhere.
I eventually decided that I wanted to live overseas. So after a long chat with myself, I flew into Barcelona, Spain on my own on May 25th, 2015. And cried for the entire 22-hour journey. I then spent six months in Europe, gained six kilos, and volunteered at amazing festivals like La Tomatina and Oktoberfest. I met some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known, and I again fell in love with this lifestyle.
Coming home in October 2015, I lost the six kilos, worked really hard, and then took off again. This time to the Philippines in May 2016, then a travel writing internship with Global Hobo in June/July 2016. And then back to Europe armed with a two-year UK visa at the end of July 2016. I lasted about three months in Europe before anxiety got the better of me and I needed to come home to get myself together.
I’ve since become a paid freelance writer, a regular contributor to a feminist publication, and still write for Global Hobo. And through all of that, Adventurous Alysha became a reality. I’ve grown a lot since I was first diagnosed with Anxiety, and continue to do so every day. All of the strange events in my life have led me to this point and only looking back do they make sense.
So I’m here to share my journey with you all. The ins and outs of what it took to get me to where I am today, and the lessons that I am still learning. I hope that I can prove to you, that you don’t have to be someone special to live life on your own terms; despite being tethered by mental illness. It’s a long and hard road, but I won’t be held back from doing what I love just because I have anxiety. And I want to make sure that no one else is held back either. I want to experience this journey with you all, learning to challenge the limitations of anxiety through travel and adventure.
People will tell you that living life the way you want ‘isn’t reality.’ And that you have to get a ‘real job.’ But society is so ingrained that way, that the only way to be happy in your life is to go against the crowd; if that is where your passion leads you. No matter what it is, it’s truly no one else’s choice but your own. You don’t need permission from anyone in your life to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. It’s out there, you just have to work harder than you ever have before to make it happen. Because it does happen. And I’m a great big anxious insight into that truth.
So go and be bold, be adventurous, be you.