For a long time, I have believed that the secret to longevity is an unfailing zest for life and my grandmother is a wonderful example of this. She was always interested in meeting new people, trying new things, and she lived in the present. She was self-sufficient, happy, and lived a full life for the 95 years she was with us. Half way through last year, I realised that my zest for life had diminished somewhat. I found myself governed by fear and anxiety rather than courage and kindness, and I knew I needed to do something.

Over the past nine months I have focused on one aim: to get back to a place where I feel excited and good about life, and by extension, myself. There are many things that have contributed to achieving this goal, and I am going to talk about the one that has made a profound difference to me: being kind to yourself.

When fear and anxiety control your life, one of your most important relationships (your relationship with yourself) becomes toxic. There is a constant voice in your head telling you that you are not good enough and that everybody else thinks the same. You stop trying new things, meeting new people, and doing the things that you love for fear of failure and being judged. You also rely on external validation over which you have no control. Slowly but surely, you lose your zest for life. It took almost a year for me to get to a low point where I knew I needed to take serious action, but eventually I did, and the healing process began.

The first thing I did was to stop being so hard on myself. If the voice in my head told me something that would seem mean and hurtful when directed at another person, I would replace it with something kind and encouraging. The moment I started to be my own friend again and stopped relying on other people to feel good about myself, I felt my zest for life coming back. I became more in touch with my own needs and guiding principles, and life decisions that had once felt paralyzing became exciting opportunities. I decided to leave my job, which I enjoyed but was ultimately not pushing me in the direction that I wanted to go, and go on an adventure.

I have always wanted to travel by myself, which I felt scared to do before, so I booked a flight to the south coast of India to go and learn how to surf. Two weeks into my adventure, I have met the most amazing people and been able to view life from many new perspectives. Traveling by yourself opens you up so much more to new people and experiences, and although you won't be seeing me in the surfing world championships this year, I can already feel how much I have gained from being here.

Now none of this is easy, and it takes time, but my god it is worth it. I feel grateful to have had an opportunity to really think about my life and what makes me feel happy and fulfilled. This is only the beginning of my journey, and I feel excited for what is to come.