24 Years

Nearly three weeks ago on the 3rd of April of this year (2017) I turned 24 years old! Where has the years gone. Who would have thought I would be celebrating my 24th birthday on a cruise ship in the Caribbean! It was only two years ago I was panicking about what I was going to do with my life. Plus in a big chunk of 6 years in life I couldn’t even imagine how I would make it to 24, I couldn’t see that far into the future. I believe I have only started living my life how I want in the past year and a half.

I used to regret the years I was gripped with an eating disorder and anxiety, I felt like i had wasted my life; the crucial years of my life enjoying my teenager and adolescence years where everyone figured themselves out, lived a journey of ups and downs together and was able to handle it. Now a realise the only thing I regret is hurting my body and others I love around me. That part of my life will always be with me as it was my only comfort in my life at that time…it will always be there trying to take control again of my life but I have grown inner strength to finally live my life happy. Nothing is going to change how I live my life now as I have worked too hard…my body doesn’t deserve it. Now 24 in the past year from 23 years old I have found myself again and what my real reason is for living on this earth as me…as Hayley Vincent.

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How did I celebrate? 

Back home I really don’t get excited for my birthday. It was just another year I had struggled through to get to an older age……this added more panic, stress, hate, loathe and failure as my life wasn’t planning out like I imagined as a little girl. However, now I see my birthday as another year for opportunity, growth, risk, recovery, love and excitement. I celebrate another year of being free and grateful (hence the tattoo I have…to remind me everyday of how far I have come). Another year of being happy for who I am and whatever weight I am. 

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For my 24th I celebrated on a cruise ship with my extended second family. Living and working on a smaller cruise ship you really end up like family. I celebrated my 24th in Labadee, Haiti….despite visiting there multiple times in this contract and my previous contract I decided to embrace the beauty of the island. Normally I wouldn’t get off in this place as it is all commercialised for the cruise guests (it is part of the island used for the ship), however it is still another island that is beautiful, different culture, different people, amazing scenery….you cannot complain or be ungrateful. However it was a long working day with no time to really celebrate. I ended running an extra activity for the guests on the island and only had a maximum of 3 hours off before I headed back to work. Well them three hours free ended up making my birthday the most special and getting over an enormous fear. I did TWO zip lines!! One of them was 500ft above!!! I didn’t know I was doing it as if I had known I probably would have backed out. It was such a special and memorable day for me. Having someone surprise with this was such a shock….in my head I think I don’t deserve this and if i had known I would have said “no don’t plan this”. It is weird how I got over such a fear with ease, this means to me my anxiety had reduced and I am truly living a free life…I now feel safe in this life and life isn’t against me. 

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Even though I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep that night, everyone in the team and other people from other departments encouraged me to celebrate at midnight for my birthday. I didn’t even think about this I was just going to sleep as we had an early morning of work again the next day. At this moment I was so happy…..being around people if I have’t known long were making my birthday special. The sports team as normal had a little get together in one of the cabins. I really don’t think about the presents I may receive on my birthday, I would rather just have the people most meaningful to me around me at that time. The team all acted like it wasn’t my birthday and saying they hadn’t got me anything….normal gullible me I believed them but I didn’t care one bit. As long as we were together is all that mattered to me. Suddenly, I had a wrapped present in front of me…a pillow saying ‘blondes have more fun’ that was a gift from the sports team…again I could have cried with happiness. This quote sums me up so well…..I am blonde and now in my new life I have more fun than anymore 🙂

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I even got surprised with a cake!!! I will be honest I nearly cried with happiness AGAIN as I didn’t have a clue!!! At midnight everyone sang happy birthday and there was a cake arranged by a certain someone. That moment will be memorable for life. I was with people who I hardly really knew, from all over the world and they were there wanting to celebrate my birthday…..a very special moment filled with gratefulness and true happiness. You learn people aren’t as judgmental as you think, the world is a community and full of acceptance.

This 24th year my goal is to take risks more with my emotions. This means I need to learn to embrace and show different emotions to people. I think I am protecting myself but really I am hiding myself from others. Showing your emotions is a leaning experience that may result in you getting hurt or full of happiness…but you have to take the risk in life.

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The next day we was in San Juan, Puerto Rico! My favourite port of the trip!!! Due to rotation of the schedules I didn’t have much time off in port but this worked out the best as I had the evening off where there was an all crew party which I decided to class as my birthday party!!! What a night! Drinking alcohol would normally make me more anxious, I would hate it and feel so self- conscious meaning I drink more and more. With so many people around I felt like I could be 100% myself, I danced the night away and enjoyed my life with people I love.

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It was an amazing birthday and I want to thank everyone who made it special for me. The next day we was in St Maarten and I had a nice chilled day full of sunshine, good company and time spent swimming in the sea. Despite everyone feeling slightly fragile from the night before some of the sports team and I dressed up like normal human beings to go for a meal that evening…making this a THREE DAY CELEBRATION!

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Turning 24 I didn’t even imagine where I would be in life. It is weird as I don’t know what I want to do in life right now, but I am not panicking about it. I am enjoying travelling, visiting new countries and  enjoying meeting new people and living life as me. Meeting so many people in the same boat..literally…has put me at ease. Whatever I want to do in the future will come…..I am no longer planning. I know I am a perfectionist but I have learnt life isn’t about failure to meet your goals…..it is about embracing the small goals you have.

Speak Soon xx

‘Live Free…Live a Journey’