18 Oct 2012

Choice

I know you're not supposed to look back, but something I occasionally do is think back to past times in my life and imagine what I would have thought if I knew where I would be and what I would be doing now.  When I do this I realise I wouldn't change anything, it leaves me feeling grateful and hopeful.

A few years ago I viewed travelling as a fantasy.  It was something to bring up in conversation, 'Oh I'd love to go travelling one day', but it was never something I considered turning into a reality.  I just never thought about it, I almost subconsciously accepted that it was impossible.  At one point in my life, and I can't say when exactly because I'm not sure, I decided to stop waiting for things to happen and to stop complaining when they didn't.  


Some time after this choice was made I went travelling for three months and it met none of my expectations.  I found it uncomfortably humbling and hugely freeing, even a bit mind blowing at times.  I wore no make up except mascara (if that) for three months, I didn't worry about what people thought of my clothes, music taste or anything like that because it was a waste of valuable time.  It disappointed me that a number of the people I met weren't likeable, I had a very unrealistic expectation that everyone I met was going to be amazing and awesome.  Nope!  In spite of all this I still had one of the best times of my life and was absolutely gutted to come home.

When I came back I couldn't believe that nothing had changed and that no one was genuinely interested in what I'd been doing and seeing at the other side of the globe.  In fact I was on the brink of being incredulous.  

So I almost immediately decided to start saving and go travelling again.  One last go before I 'settle down' (I hate that phrase). Second time around I went in with no expectations and a new attitude.  This experience will be whatever it will be, I'm not going to desperately seek out high fives with people I don't actually like, or get ticks on the list just so I can say I did.  I'm going to relax, go with the flow and do what I want to do - I'm going to make my own choices.  

Funnily enough I had an incredible time and met some amazing, lovely people.  During those two months I have never had so many stressful and almost disastrous things happen to me, yet never have I been as relaxed and not stressed at all.  It was on this trip that the penny finally dropped.  I want to do what makes me happy, not what makes someone else happy.  Also, when things go wrong, it's not the end of the world.

I came back on a high and within a week was on a low.  I began making plans to move to Bristol with friends, look for a job and, you guessed it, 'settle down'.  While it was quite exciting I couldn't motivate myself because I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do.  I wanted more travel, long term.  All of my other friends seemed to be settling down too, so I was unsure of what to do.  My only option for travelling would be to go alone, I'd never done that before.  I'm not unhappy in the UK, I have a great family and awesome friends.  But this just isn't where I want to be right now, maybe one day but just not now.

Little did I know the friend I was planning to move in with felt the same way.  I visited her back in March and she nervously sat me down and explained that she had something to tell me.  She said that she wanted to go to Australia with a working holiday visa and looked at me presumably expecting the worst.  I breathed a huge sigh a relief and simply said 'Me too.'  We laugh about it now but things would have a lot easier if we'd just been honest with each other from the start!

Since then plans have been in the making, my mother has just about come round to the idea and I've felt nothing but happy with my decision.  I'm still planning to travel alone, I will be able to see Kayleigh and a few other friends who are in that part of the world.  But fundamentally this time it's me and myself.  

So now when I look back I see things I never thought I'd be able to do, come November I'll be adding to the list.  It only makes me want to find out what else I can do that I think I can't.