Ever wonder who you’d be if you could start all over again?

A neurosurgeon? A secretary by day, cowgirl by night? Your fifth grade teacher, maybe?

Apparently I would be a grunge girl.

Grunge girl? Is that even what you call someone with a grunge-inspired fashion sense? The fact that I don’t know the proper terminology highlights how ridiculous it is that I adopted a grunge style while travelling.

Travelling doesn’t exactly let you ‘start all over again,’ but it does give you the opportunity to try things you wouldn’t normally do in your day-to-day life. For me, I saw my year abroad as an opportunity to do whatever I wanted sans judgement. I was about as far away from my life in Winnipeg as I could get, I was surrounded by new people (minus the support of my beautiful best friend and travel buddy), and I was working a new job. Eventually, the idea of being ‘anyone I want to be’ sunk in, and I began experimenting with my style.

It started innocently with a little black nail polish here, and a little purple hair dye there, but eventually the nose piercing happened, the chokers made their way to my neck, a tattoo gun scribbled on my side, and black lipstick became my go-to.

Now don’t get me wrong: I have absolutely nothing against the grunge style. In fact, I quite enjoy it (obviously something prompted my phase). But what makes this absolutely ridiculous is that up until Australia, my style more resembled a wannabe prep or tomboy. Seriously, I spent 90% of high school in the sweatpants I slept in the night before. Then in university it dawned on me that I should be a bit more professional. Cue the wannabe prep style. Either way, up until Australia I had never touched black lipstick.

Another massive discrepancy between me and my post-grunge-styled self is my music taste. The grunge fashion style literally comes from the grunge subgenre of alternative rock music. Any guesses as to what music I listen to? If your guess includes cowboy hats, rusty trucks, and dirt roads then you are correct. I listen to country music. I thoroughly enjoy listening to country music. I also thoroughly enjoy super lame and overly played pop music. I cried at Blake Shelton’s concert. I cried at the Backstreet Boys concert.

Is anyone else seeing the humour in a grunge-styled Shay? My friends certainly did. The first week I was back home about 67 people mentioned the chokers I wore in my photos. Some still tease me to this day and ask why I don’t wear them anymore. I usually laugh and respond by saying those days are long gone. The best part about my response is that my laughter is genuine. I look at photos of me from last year and laugh at how silly I look, but I also smile at how I didn’t care. I smile at how I still don’t care.

When you travel, you are given the freedom to do what you want, wear what you want, and be who you want. Of course, some might say you can do that in your everyday life as well, but there’s something about knowing no one has any preconceived notions of you while you travel that makes experimenting with your style so much more fun.

One of my favourite nights in Sydney was spent head banging to the loudest rock music I’ve ever heard at a local bar. Seriously, I head banged so hard I was afraid my chokers would fall off. And although I can return back to the head banging, choker wearing traveller I once was, I’d rather keep that image as a fond memory instead.

Every time a friend jokes about my chokers, I see someone with black nail polish, or I hear heavy rock music, I smile. I smile, and I’m reminded of one of the many reasons why I will always love travelling.

From left: Grunge-styled-Shay, Kels, and Sar