Realising the disconnect
In the almost 5 years I worked FIFO, I experienced the normal ups and downs that people go through when they are in their early 20s, just in a different environment and with anywhere between 80-300 other people apart of it.
I started working away when I was 20 and can honestly say it was the best decision I could make at that time.
It enabled me to buy 2 houses with one of my sisters, one we call our superannuation, given the amount the value has increased over the years and the other we are still trying to burn off the debt we were left with when we sold it. But really how many people who don't work FIFO can say they were able to buy 2 houses by 21?! I am grateful I've done this as it made me confident enough to take the leap to build on my own in the last couple of years and hope that by having some property under my belt I'll have a comfortable future.
However, in the first 18 months of it, I was unlucky enough to experience Cyclone George, lucky enough to not be on site as it ripped through our camp, but that didn't make the aftermath easier, visiting the hospitals to see the injured and airport as people came home from it, looking as though they'd been in a war zone, some only with a pair of shorts on and no other personal belongings. This is engrained in my memory and was another experience that took a bit to get over... Still to this day I don't like going to certain places during cyclone season. Western Australian's reading this will understand what I'm talking about and the people who went through it or knew people who were there, will understand my experience.
It was another 2 years later and on a different project, when I started to realise I was becoming more and more disconnected to the real world (the non-FIFO part of my life). I was wrapped up in everything that happened on site, everyone there I considered family, even if we weren't close, and wanted to be there more than anywhere else... Crazy I know.
But the big realisation occurred when I came home from a 3 week swing to have my Mum tell me that she had been rushed to hospital, a week into my swing, with heart palpitations and was monitored as they suspected she was having a heart attack, and they hadn't told me until then. Now it's important to note that I used to call home daily and, on that night Dad answered my call and spoke to me as if nothing was wrong... All while he was in the car following the ambulance. You would think that my response would be one of annoyance, anger and concern, but it wasn't and that's what concerned me. I asked if she was ok, she said she was and that was the end of that conversation. Never talked about again.
Looking back, I'm very surprised at how I behaved, as this was how I had begun to approach everything at home while I was on that project and do honestly feel it's 2 years of my life I won't get back, especially the friendships that were damaged and now lost forever.
I only lasted another year of FIFO after that project and then had to adjust back to the real world, which surprisingly took longer than I thought it would... Guess I had become the lifestyle and routine.
I also found that I am happy to tell anyone anything about me (haha obviously!) because when you live in a camp, everyone knows everything about you anyone, so what's the point in secrets.
These days I'm very happy doing Monday to Friday and have much stronger friendships along with much closer ties to my family, something that may never have occurred if I hadn't disconnected back then.