Isn’t it funny how life has a way of working things out!? One day you can wake up and find yourself heading in a completely unexpected direction and something that was once never a priority can become the most important thing in the world.
I have recently had a clear out of my laptop and stumbled across a blog post I had written a few months before finding out I was pregnant. It shares my (quite) personal, mental battle with my feelings towards travelling and settling down. So, I thought now was the perfect (although slightly ironic) time to share it;
10 years ago in my first relationship, I saw my future very differently. At just 16 I was infatuated, committed and had my future planned out. I thought I would have my first child, like my own mum, in my early twenties and own my own home not long after. I would dedicate my whole life to my family and raise our children in our beautiful home that we would work so hard for. I cringe now at how naive i was!
At 18 I went to University, not because I really wanted to but because all my friends were going and I didn’t want to get left behind. I chose social work, due to certain family circumstances in my childhood, I wanted to work with vulnerable people and those misunderstood by society. However, my enrollment at the University of Portsmouth was to change my life. A whole world of opportunity was suddenly handed to me. If I wanted a degree, it was within my reach, if I wanted to own my own business, I could make it happen and god forbid if I wanted to travel the world for a year to ‘find myself’, I could. The world was my oyster and it was up to me to take what I wanted from it. As my relationship started to break down, I started to think about my dad, the most important man in the world to me who sadly passed in my mid-teens. Although this had opened my eyes to how short life was, I had interpreted my loss as a need to hold on to whoever was dear to me, so very closely. I soon started to realise there was a whole world out there and I wasn’t going to experience it by fighting to save an unhealthy relationship, or with children or a mortgage. As my passion to bring about social change grew so did my passion to see the world outside of the bubble I lived in, I started to become fiercely independent and knew I could only rely on myself to change my life. Towards the end of my University degree, a special friend entered my life who was fighting a long battle with cancer. His determination and zest for life was so infectious that it helped me find the courage to buy a one way ticket to New Zealand. I was to travel for three months with my two closest friends before embarking on a teaching experience in Thailand, alone. I had planned to return within 8 months.
I left the heartbreak and the humiliation of my three and a half year relationship behind me, I left my family and my friends and stepped on to that plane with the determination to really feel what it was like to ‘live’. And my god did I live! From skydiving and bungee jumping in New Zealand to gaining my advanced open water diving certification in Borneo, immersing in Thai culture in a countryside town to residing in the isolation of the Australian outback, partying the night away on paradise beaches to teaching tiny Thai tots English. Weeks rolled into months and months rolled into years. Now, nearly 5 years on, I am living in Australia with my new love, my best friend and my ultimate travel companion. True love found me the second I stopped looking for it and learned to love myself and my beautiful life. We’ve made sacrifices, we’ve lost loved ones and not been able to say our goodbyes, missed births and marriages and not been there for those when they have needed us most. We have been utterly broke, in debt and living in a tent, we have been stuck on temporary visas and I have worked a job I hated, a job that made me question all my morals, all to stay longer in this incredible, diverse country. We did all this so we could do what we love, travel and be free and have the choice of where we call home. It all paid off this year and we are finally Australian Permanent Resident’s and yet again I feel like the world is my Oyster.
At 26 years old I look back at my young dreams and feel a sense of sympathy as I juggle my want to travel, experience and make memories with my biological clock. I still have the desire for a beautiful family and stable home but right now I’m not sure I am ready. Commitment to a rental lease or car finance has been enough to bring me to the brink of tears, what if I wake up tomorrow and I want to pack up my life and leave again? What if I want a new adventure, a new experience? Even buying furniture felt like a huge ask. What is this? I had never had commitment issues before but the more settled we get the more unsettled I feel. I spend my days day dreaming and Googling flights to far- away places, juggling my savings and calculating how many weeks I could last at said destination and thinking up crazy ideas on how to make money and travel forever. I sacrifice nice clothes and material things so that I have more money to spend on my travels and holidays. Then, I wonder if I will ever be able to go home and face my old life. Will I be able to restore relationships with old friends who remind me of everything I used to be, will I ever be able to fit back in to that life? Then there are the friends I made later in life, the ones I shared a home with throughout University, the girls that became my family, do they still feel the same about me? We don’t talk everyday, and only see eachother for a day every few years, but you always hope friendships will last a lifetime. I have friends all over the world now and have left pieces of myself in so many countries I don’t really know where ‘home’ is anymore. I look at the friends I grew up with, happily married, with children and houses of their own and I wonder if they will ever get to experience the amazing adventures travelling and living overseas bring and will they ever know what it feels like to be completely thrown out of their comfort zone and find those unique new perspectives on life. Sure, they can do all of that when the kids leave home but is it really the same? Are you as able or as determined to? On the flipside, I wonder will I leave it all too late? Will I miss out on these beautiful, intimate family moments because I spent too much time chasing my dreams. Where do I draw the line? Because one thing I know for sure is that I will never be satisfied that I have seen and done ‘enough’.
Everyone’s journey is different and I suppose that’s the beauty of life. I think it’s fair to say it will always be a mental battle for me whether to ‘settle’ or keep going and I am sure whatever path I choose it will reach a sweet destination. But for now, on I trot!
It turns out I needn’t have worried as the decision has half been made for me, we have a baby on the way and there sure as hell ain’t no turning back! However, that whole ‘nesting’desire that is supposed to come with a new baby isn’t really happening for me. While there is a certain amount of ‘settling’ required when starting a family I am still no more certain about where the road will take us and have no permanent plans in place. For now, Australia is home and here’s to the journey of a lifetime….