My Life Story – Part 2

Me and my first boyfriend, Ryan

Click here to read part one of my life story

In the summer before grade 10, I met my first serious boyfriend. His name was Ryan. He was three years older than me (scandalous for our age group!), but just as short and skinny. He was funny and an incredible artist. We had a really wonderful, loving relationship for three years and learned a lot from one another.

Soon after we met, I went on the birth control shot, Depo Provera. As many ladies can attest to the skin clearing effect of hormonal birth control, this was the best time of my skin’s life.

However, Depo Provera also caused me quite an unusual and distressing side effect. It caused a skin tenderness in a certain area so that sex became extremely painful to the point where I couldn’t even have it. I lived with this for two years, as no doctors seemed to know what was causing it. It was extremely scary – I wondered if I was ever going to be normal again. I had stayed on the Depo because of the clear skin and the lack of periods that it provided. When I finally found out it was the birth control causing me these problems, I stopped using it immediately and I eventually got better.

This was my first disillusionment with taking prescription drugs. I had seen first hand what kind of side effects are possible, and I did not like it. I was just lucky they weren’t permanent.

Unfortunately, after I stopped the Depo shot, my skin began to slowly break out more and more. Frustrated, I ran to the internet, found, and bought me some benzoyl peroxide. I slapped that on my face night and day for four years, in which I continued to have mild to moderate acne, mostly around my chin. Sometimes it would be better than other times, but the acne never stayed away for long. It’s not like the BP worked miracles, but I just assumed that if I wasn’t using it, things would be a lot worse. I was very emotionally attached to it.

Around the same time that I went off birth control and became reacquainted with our darling friend Mr. P. Acnes, I was graduating high school. I had always had a passion for the world and an adventurous, free spirit, and I was eager to start exploring all those places I had dreamed about while grazing our old picture atlas of the world.

I desperately wanted to travel, but I didn’t want to lose Ryan, so I practically forced him to come with me. But a few months before we left, I quite suddenly felt that we weren’t right for each other anymore. Something in my heart had changed, and the urge to move on and spread my wings on my own was too overwhelming. I broke his heart and it was a long process of hurt and guilt that I had to work through.

Soon after I arrived in Sydney, Australia when I was 18

So off I went to Australia for a whole year on my own. I landed in Sydney and thus began the backpacker circuit – staying in hostels, going on fun tours, meeting other foreigners, partying and drinking bags of cheap wine (affectionately nicknamed “goon”).

Almost as soon as I landed in Sydney, I quite suddenly came down with a fairly severe case of back acne. This confused me, as I had never had a problem with back acne before. As it wasn’t on my face, it wasn’t as distressing as it could have been, but being in Australia, I was spending a fair bit of time at the beach and there was no way to cover it up.

As soon as I left Sydney, my back acne disappeared almost as mysteriously as it had come. I have never had a problem with it since. Another interesting acne mystery was that I went for a few months in the middle of the trip to South East Asia. My face became perfectly clear the entire time, but the minute I arrived back in Australia, there it was again – back to drive me crazy.

My whole trip was a fantastic learning experience that I never would have experienced to the fullest if I had gone with my high school boyfriend. I felt proud for having done such a brave thing all by myself – and all I wanted to do was travel more.

Me in the Moroccan Sahara when I was 21

I spent the next three or four years moving around, trying to half-assedly figure out what I wanted to do with my life – never living in the same place for more than 6 months. I lived in Victoria, Vancouver, Powell River, and I did end up traveling again, this time in Europe and Morocco. I have always felt restless… looking for the next situation or adventure to finally satisfy me, to make me happy, but never being satisfied when that thing comes.

I did have one puzzle piece fall into place for me though, in terms of finding a bit of grounding. The summer after I arrived home from Australia, I attended an event that took place on one of the gulf islands considered to be part of my hometown. It was an outdoor festival called Diversity. I was humming and hawing about going, but someone ended up convincing me. I consider this to be a turning point in my life, because I suddenly felt a place of belonging and excitement.

Click here to read part three

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  1. Sampson says

    You’re such a free soul. You remind me of Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love which is a horrible, unwatchable chick flick, but the concept was nice. 😛

    • thelovevitamin says

      Haha thanks! That’s how I felt about that movie too…. I enjoyed the concept of travelling and finding herself and whatever, but the movie wasn’t so great!

  2. Mikey says

    That’s awesome you got to travel like that, did you travel alone that entire time? That would be so scary, I don’t think I could do that haha, very brave 😛 I have a question though, how were you able to afford all of that traveling and living in different places? It’s got to be expencive to do all of that.

    • thelovevitamin says

      Well I left on both of my trips by myself, but you meet all sorts of people and end up traveling with them for a while, or just meeting new people everywhere you go. You’re never alone very long. It can be scary, but it’s an adventure!
      As for affording it, I just saved my money. It’s actually not that hard to save money to travel (well, I suppose it does help if you live with your parents while you’re trying to save). I also worked for a short time on both trips to keep money up and travel longer.
      Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and put your mind to it, whether it’s traveling the world, or getting rid of acne!

  3. Jaclyn says

    Wow, the way you describe your travels sounds very romantic! I would be so nervous and shy about going someplace by myself but maybe I’ll try it someday! :)

    • Tracy says

      It’s wonderful! Of course there are ups and downs or traveling by yourself, but it was worth it for certain and has many perks!

  4. Katie says

    Hiya Tracy,

    Your story is really interesting, how did you afford to visit all these places? did you save up before you went or did you just go with the flow and get jobs out there? was it not really scary!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Katie,
      I did both – saved up before I went, and also got jobs out there. As for it being scary – do you mean in a safety kind of way, or just in a brave kind of way? I wasn’t really scared, it was really easy to meet people… and I was a teenager so I had no sense of danger! Lol, I think I was just braver back then, I would be more hesitant to travel by myself now but I think it’s just me being lazy, rather than fear. Traveling by yourself does take more mental effort (it’s so worth doing though at least once… you can learn a lot about yourself).

  5. Matt says

    “Another interesting acne mystery was that I went for a few months in the middle of the trip to South East Asia.”

    I just recently went to China for two weeks. No acne at all when I was there. Then I came back to California, and my old skin came back. I wonder if it’s due to the difference in climate (miserably humid there), diet (maybe a diet rich in lead fights acne..), and/or something else entirely.

  6. alicia says

    I want to travel and see some of the world like you have and reading your journey has only inspired me more! But I’m broke and wouldn’t know where to start. Any helpful tips?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Alicia, I’ve got plans to write an entire ebook on the subject of travel.. so much to say! For saving money.. it can be tough, so you really have to want to travel! You have to work an extra job, cut back on expenses (be ruthless about what you really need to buy), move into a cheaper place to live (or crash with your parents for a while as you save)… etc :) And just keep at it and you will eventually save. A good idea is that if you want to travel for a long time is to check out work opportunities overseas… see if your country participates in working holiday visas. Also check out Wwoofing if you are interested at all in organic farming

  7. Turtle says

    Diversity festival!! I can definitely, without a doubt, say that attending the very same festival also changed my life! I’ve never encountered so much peace and contentment.
    So much love for the beauty of Texada island.

    • says

      Yay Turtle! Yeah, that festival has been unequivocally life-changingly amazing for me, and I hear the same from lots of peeps :) here’s hoping it’s on again in 2015!! Where are you from?

      • Turtle says

        I’m from Vancouver!
        Yes, I do hope the festival will return next summer. It’s been far too long, and I need my fix!

        Do you think you’ll volunteer and run workshops or advice sessions when it returns?

        • says

          No probably not… I like to go and just have a little vacation… I get my fix of teaching & advice giving from doing this site :) hehe. Anyway… if it’s on next year, I’ll be there, so say hi when you see me around!

          • Turtle says

            I totally get that!
            If it is on next year I will most definitely say hi if I spot you there! It would be pretty cool to meet you, not gonna lie. Hopefully with gorgeous healthy skin :)

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