Natalie – Age 24


Age 24

Hiking to express myself…

You probably want to ask me why I suddenly want to join your project. Long story short: I saw my weakness and overcame it. This is something to celebrate.

I was stuck in the bottom of my life in the past two weeks. I lost a job, probably not because of my knowledge/experience but more likely for the visa status. One of the main reasons that drove me back to UK is to prove that as a non-EU female, I can stay in this country and support myself without depending on any other person. I have nothing against those who stay in a foreign country depending on partner sponsorships but that will not be my option.

As I told you, the company I worked for decided not to hire me as a full-timer. Although they kindly gave me some feedback about my application, I don’t think those mistakes are big enough to ruin my professional ability. Two days later, the company announced that the position was given to a Chinese girl. I’ve been working for the company for one year; whilst her, half year. Apart from the fact that she may know Chinese market better than I do, I think her biggest advantage is her visa sponsored by her husband. I was so angry and disappointed. I worked so hard and spent so much saving on waiting for this position but end up for what?

Then I checked my bank account, seriously evaluated my situation.

Should I stay? Should I go back to Taiwan? (My dad said, go marry someone.) I met most of my friends again, I visited France again, I joined Leeds Swing Exchange again, I even went to Scotland again! To be honest, I had most of my wishes came true already, why struggle to stay longer?

The fact is: I am just so stubborn. Working Holiday visa isn’t something everyone can get. It would be a stupid waste if I only use it for a two-month holiday. So I didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for myself. In fact, I spent days sending CVs and filling job application forms. Suddenly, I got an idea. Maybe that was a sign. Maybe SEO isn’t what I should do. I started to look for jobs that require better writing skills. Then two things happened. First, a friend asked me to translate a project with her which is a great help to bring income. Second, a friend read through my articles and offered me his contacts in publishing.

He is a freelance journalist. He showed me a pile of business cards that may be helpful. He said, “It’s a good time to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to give help.”

I’ve never met anyone who encourages my writing like this in Taiwan! Maybe this is where my talent can be appreciated better!

Looking back to the three days doing nothing interesting but sending CVs, I know I’ve been through the worst part. During those days, I was on the edge to collapse for every single minute.

I am glad I didn’t collapse. I am glad I didn’t book the ticket back to Taiwan (almost). This experience made me stronger and better. I learnt to appreciate my value and realised how blessed I am to have so many people caring, worrying and loving me.

This is something worth celebrating.

I have to admit that the idea of putting my image on an exhibition wall is still very scary. Even just to stand in front of your camera is a bit scary. So here’s a solution: I’ll try to bring you into my thought process via hiking and see if you can capture it with your camera.

I am very bad at expressing emotions. If possible, I prefer being honest to everyone. For example, I struggle to smile just to please someone or to fit in some occasions.

Meeting a person who can understand your heart is one of the most difficult things in the world. I love sharing things no matter food, stories, or love. I love sharing thoughts but I can’t control how people twist my meanings. Sometime, keeping everything with myself is somehow easier. There are two ways to deal with my emotion without suffering from explaining myself: writing and hiking.

When I am in the world of writing, there is no hurry to find a word just to catch up the pace in a conversation. I can build a world in my ideal.

However, writing is something too hard to capture. The point is my mind but not the activity, writing, itself. I’m not a professional model or actress. I can’t sit in front of my laptop or my notebook and pretend to have lots of inspiration to write down. (Well yes, you can picture me when I’m writing to my friend. It’s different from writing my articles but close. But do you really want to sit in front of me for ages until I finish a letter?) That’s why I chose hiking instead.

Hiking is a perfect way to have a dialogue with myself. Selfobservation can be dangerous when restricted in a closed space but healing in open space such as a moor, valley, or seaside.

Hiking especially has its challenge. I love listening to my breath and heart beats, feeling the aches in my legs. Feel the challenge, and overcome it. Free my mind for a while from all the worries until reaching the top. I sometime argue with myself and put the anger on hiking. After a few hours walk, hiking just magically help me sort out my mind and find solutions in life.

My best hiking experience is with my friend Amy! We went to Snodonia! We wasted some time on finding direction so didn’t make it to the top. We are perfect travel partners! We have similar pace so can chat when both feel like to chat and shut up when both need a break. We hope one day we can conquer the mountain together! Anyway, Snodonia is too far. So let’s take Ilkley for the photoshoot.

I watched the film Creation two years ago before coming to UK. When I actually saw the moor, the bath house and Darwin’s residence, awe, I couldn’t find a word to explain. Same for Haworth. Jane Eyre and The Wuthering Heights are two of my favourite books. Haworth is somehow trickier to travel from Leeds so maybe Ilkley is still the best solution.

The last part is for you, Ashley. You impressed me in the Christmas party by the way you look at the party. That was the first time I realised that I wasn’t the only observer in the room. And even more surprisingly, you’re local! For me, every day in UK can be the last day in UK so I can’t afford missing anything. But for you, you’ve been living here for ages yet still look at this world in such sharp eye. THAT is amazing. Please keep it, never change.