Life is weird.
One minute you’re working your 9-5 office job, saving money, spending money, socialising when you can and living most days as a tedious routine of waking up – going to work – eating dinner – going to sleep – aaand Repeat.
The next you’ve booked a one-way flight to Australia, with no idea what’s going to happen to your life other than the working holiday visa you’ve successfully applied for that’ll last you just one year, and after that point… who knows?!
You’re suddenly researching day and night – tours, flights, coach passes, hostels, travel insurance, injections, rucksacks. You’re scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, reading blog after blog on other people’s experiences abroad and countless ‘Top 10 Things To Do‘ lists in your chosen destination/s.
All of the above is me at this very moment, well… has been me for the past 3-6 months. It’s been a long slog of planning and now I’m just over 1 week away from the big day (the one where I’ll have to endure horrendously tearful goodbyes at the airport).
Suppose I should briefly mention why I’ll be at that airport on the 31st waving goodbye to my family for a whole year… or more.
I’ve been coasting along for the past few years, working an average job and falling into that routine life. And I’m not even 25 yet. I’m someone that doesn’t have a clue what direction they want to take in life. Feeling that uncertainty can be stressful if you let it be, or the less you stress and try and enjoy life, eventually you realise that the not-knowing just becomes this nothing-ness that you’ve learnt to accept (hence slipping in to the tedious routine). And realising that makes you feel this sense of unfulfillment. So either way – through the stress or the unfulfillment – there is really no escaping it.
More and more recently, I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing and what I will be doing in 3, 5, 10 years time. I don’t want to feel unfulfilled in my mid-twenties, or any age ideally!
At the start of 2018, I made the firm decision that I was going to go traveling. Not for a few weeks or a few months. If I was going to do it, I was really going to do it. Because there’s no better time than when you’re 24, with zero commitments and no real career path and… have basically been desperate to travel for as long as you can remember anyway. So from the day I finally made that decision, I’ve been slowly planning ever since.
The decision I made – in a bit more detail – was to travel first and foremost the East Coast of Australia. This packs in all the glorious city and coastal highlights of Melbourne, Sydney, Byron Bay, The Gold Coast, Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Cairns… the list goes on. Might sound dumb but it took me an hour or so to dedicate myself to figuring out that there even was an East Coast route to travel. In the past when I tried to research travel in Australia, I only knew of a few places but I didn’t ever get far enough with my research to connect all the dots and realise it was actually do-able. The sheer size of the country would always overwhelm me and then bring my search to a stop. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready back then…
All of my friends who know me well enough know how much I love traveling and how long I’ve banged on about going abroad long-term. Through my various conversations with them over the last few years, the question of ‘what are you waiting for then?’ inevitably arises nearly every time. The simple answer to that is… I was waiting for the right time. And when asked what the right time would be, I never knew how to properly explain myself and would giggle and scoot over the question with comments like ‘oh I just want to keep saving more money‘ or ‘I wanna keep my job for at least one more year‘.
But now it’s all become very clear. This year, the pieces of my puzzle all slowly but surely started to fit together. I did stay at work for one more year, I did save more money but my family came to some decisions as well and it was time for change within us all. My home as I know it now probably will not be my home when I return to the UK as my parents are on the hunt for a new house in the countryside. My brother also fled the nest this year and has been living in his own apartment for the last month. I had the choice of finding a home with him and starting the rent life, and for a while I seriously considered this but it wasn’t long until I had to tell him I couldn’t commit due to the reoccurring buzz in my brain telling me to travel (I didn’t quite use those exact words). It took one conversation with my family for me to make that final decision and having their support immediately gave me the boost I needed.
How did I know that the time was right? I just did. I felt ready as I over-analysed everything around me, thought about my future and questioned my overall happiness, and eventually, instead of my friends asking, I reached a point of asking myself ‘WHAT are you waiting for?‘ And maybe that was the turning point because I couldn’t answer that question anymore. I had no concerns or regrets about leaving work, I handed my notice in with ease and my 4 weeks notice period flew by, barely giving me a chance to think about the prospect of being job-less. And yet here I am – unemployed. That word used to seem so dark to me, I’d had jobs before that I was miserable in but scared to leave for the fear of being… dun, dun, dunnnn unemployed. Now it doesn’t seem to haunt me at all, because I’m ready to start something new and exciting, and for a while at least I don’t need to work.
Of course anyone who applies for a working holiday visa in Australia or elsewhere expects to find work at some stage, whether this is the start, middle or end of their year; or for the entire thing! Personally, I have chosen to fully immerse myself into travelling for the first part of my working holiday. I wanted to discover as many places and experience as much as I could before the need (or want) for work arises. By travelling to many places first, I can hope to spot a particular area or two that I wouldn’t mind revisiting to use as my base and find work. This chunk of time also gives me an opportunity to fully concentrate on and develop my writing – something I’ve also always wanted to do. For now though, I’m looking forward to a break from work and intend to spend a lot of time wandering and discovering new places (whilst writing about them on here!)
I would imagine there’s loads of people like me, with lives like me and thoughts like me. But really all it takes is one decision, as long as it’s final. As long as you feel ready and are committed to your decision (and I’m not just talking travel), there’s no reason you can’t follow through and do something amazingly different with your life. I’m not about to start preaching! But if anything saddens me about life, it’s how short it realistically is and how regretful we could be made to feel for not following dreams. I’m a little bit of a day-dreaming, head-in-the-clouds fantasizer like that, and sometimes that trait bites me in the arse. But most times, I’m thankful for it because I’ve always been very frank about wanting to follow my dreams and for strongly believing that they are not stupid or unachievable. And now I am. SO FOLLOW YOURS! That’s my only bit of preaching done. Promise.
I always get to the end of these posts and feel like I’ve just rambled on about my life in 1487 words to a complete and utter bunch of strangers on the internet – which I have – but if you’ve made it to end of this post then THANK YOU. And if you’re at all interested in my journey over the next year or so, please stay in touch and give me a follow on Twitter & Instagram to see and read what I get up to! Honestly the uncertainty of it all really excites me… I literally have no idea what could happen. Hopefully it’s going to be an amazing adventure!