Saturday, 14 June 2014


“Oh shit, shake that ass ma, move it like a gypsy,
Stop, whoa, back it up
now let me see your hips swing
Oh shit, shake that ass ma, move it like a gypsy.
Stop, whoa, back it up
now let me see your hips swing”

Swing – Savage

I was in a San Diego nightclub on my first evening on Contiki when Swing came on. I’d so far spent most of the night dancing in the club, obviously showing off my impressive dance moves to my fifty new best friends. When Savage starting playing I went a bit mental, and myself and another guy from New Zealand sung (okay, screamed) the entire song and did all the dance moves, and at the end made sure all the Aussies and British people around us knew Savage was from New Zealand.

If you’re a New Zealander you probably know Savage isn’t our musical claim to fame – Swing is literally his one hit. And yet at that moment in that nightclub I was so excited a New Zealand song was playing. It boiled down to pride. Not pride in Savage particularly, but pride in that something from my country was being played across the world. While few others in that room that night would understand it, I knew how important it was to me because I love being from New Zealand. And in a strange way this song began my journey of self-discovery.

I went travelling across to America and joined a Contiki because I needed to go exploring on my own. Other people on the tour talked about how they could never travel alone and join up with fifty strangers, but I had never considered going with someone else. I needed to make sure every step I took was for myself and every decision was one I was comfortable with. Most of the time this was easy enough because you wouldn’t think twice about missing out on opportunities. Sometimes I had to push myself and know I would regret not taking part – like when I drove the speedboat despite how nervous I was and at the end of it I felt really accomplished.

Fast-forwarding two nights after Savage played in San Diego and I was in another club in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I was not dancing alone if you catch my drift. Contiki has a bit of an underground reputation for being a shag fest and I didn’t manage to escape it. Before I went the whole hog though I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing two things. A) I wasn’t hooking up just because I was on a Contiki and B) I didn’t want to become known as the girl that did that guy from that place. These thoughts created a bit of doubt in my mind so I snuck away for a moment and wrote myself a note on my phone to clear my thoughts. One of the sentences I wrote that night said “anyone can walk into your life for a minute, an hour or a week, but only you will be there for the long haul”. It has taken me nearly 23 years to figure out that in your entire life you are the only person who will be with you forever.

I left with that guy that night because I actually, definitely wanted to. And I didn’t care if I became known so and so’s Friday night hookup, because if you listen to what people who you’ve known for four days say about you, then you need to reevaluate your perspective. Everything I did in those two weeks in USA I did for myself. It took me two decades, a trip halfway around the world and a guy from Australia to figure out that no matter what I do or where I go, I do it for myself. And, most important of all, I spend the rest of my life loving myself and looking after myself.

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