Learning The Hard Way

On New Year’s Eve 2015, I found myself trekking to North Byron with seven mates and not much of a plan. It was completely out of character but it was happening – we were pulling o the most monumental feat this undeniably flawed eight-piece had ever attempted. We were heading to Falls Festival.

As a whole, we struggle to function. Planning a get- together that goes beyond slick, greasy fast food and scorching, co ee-chain brew is traumatic at best, so this was a fucking miracle.

“It’ll be fine, don’t worry,” came out of my mouth so many times while reassuring my innately pessimistic buddy that I started to believe it. Of course, belonging to a group of tragically inept 20-somethings, I shouldn’t have.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong, did go wrong and in the end, I learned a lot more than I bargained for.

How to overcome adversity

The planning stage of this trip was erratic, and at times, volatile. Friendly banter contorted into unexpectedly heated arguments and people quickly had enough. One day we’re anticipating a right-of-passage road trip, the next we’re down to one driver, without accommodation and have a forfeited ticket we need to sell two weeks from D-day. Needless to say, I’m unsure how we survived.

Making new friends isn’t that hard

Living in a densely populated community makes it pretty easy to meet new people, especially if your neighbours are into sharing. Separated by thin tent walls and nothing else, they made the decision we were all best buds.

As they rode around starkers in wheelbarrows, shared unsolicited pill-popping tips and told stories involving highly questionable morals, we weren’t sure whether to be disgusted or amused.

It doesn’t matter what people think of you

A fresh face, unkempt hair and a blindly thrown together outfit, with the occasional thong/sock combo, made daily appearances, often all at once. While it was out of necessity rather than choice, the monstrous shower lines and regurgitating toilet bowls were positives, in retrospect.

Take the time to appreciate things

The hike from our campsite to the main stage almost had me wheezing. After a long stretch of monotonously flat ground came a mammoth-sized hill that made me want to weep. Adding to this tremendous task were the thousands of others attempting the climb to catch NYE’s finest acts. Navigating tumbling drunks and infuriatingly slow walkers, I reached the top and took it all in. A lush green valley cradled countless free-spirited festival-goers, emanating stunningly good vibes and nothing less. While I stopped to admire the view, my petite 5-foot-nothing friend powered on, getting tackled to the ground by a solid, boozed-up oaf.

Going it alone can be fun

Leaving my phone at the campsite on NYE was the best mistake I’ve ever made. Having lost all seven of my friends and being far too short to accurately decipher faces in the crowd, I weaselled my way into the mosh alone with two hours until countdown. Dancing by myself, embedded in a vibrant sell-out crowd and without a care in the world was one of my absolute highlights, minus the sly grabs and suffocation.

Things will go wrong and that’s okay

Nothing is completely in your control and if you think otherwise, you’re in for a rude shock just like I was when I woke up on the first morning. One of my closest friends had regressed to a toddler overnight, having peed the bed – or in this case, the inflatable mattress, sleeping bag and practically everything else in the tent – in his sleep. Taking it upon himself to clean the mess in an early- morning daze, the hazardous clean-up mistakenly made its way into the food reserves, mercilessly destroying any remnant of hope we had left. Breakfast was his shout.

Words by Emmylou Macdonald
Image by Jackson Fenby

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