And so, she knows. She knows, deep down, in her heart. To stretch her arms out wide. To take a deep breath of air so pure it hurts. To stand and stare with no time to care. To feel the sun on her face, to see the freckles on her nose and the blond tips of an unruly mane. To skip and run with playful abandon in nature’s playground so big. The impatience grows with every day and every thought.
I wrote this about 3 months ago, and up until recently, had completely forgotten about it. I stumbled across it when tidying up my drafts folder and had to read it a few times before I realised it was me who’d written it. I should know though, because it’s the kind of stuff that’s in my head a lot of the time. The kind of stuff that makes people think I’m a flight risk, going to head off at any opportunity. The kind of stuff that some people can’t seem to get past so don’t even bother to try to get to know me or to try to understand.
I’ve spoken about this so much over the last year, it’s wearing thin, because not many people can understand. Or they say they understand but they don’t really. Or they do but don’t feel the same way. Or think I’m an idealist. Or try to make out like I’m the strange one. Or throw arguments at me.
In my head it’s simple really. I’m a bit of a hobo. I don’t like to committing to things too far ahead, I’d rather see how things pan out. I can’t see myself staying in the same place for a long time. I want to make and take opportunities and see where life takes me. I want to spend time outside, free like a bird. I want to make the most out of life, which for me is not doing the routine 9-5. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that at all, just that it’s not for me.
This doesn’t mean that BOOM, come a certain date, that’s it. This doesn’t mean that I think everyone else is boring. This doesn’t mean that I put that above everything else. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change my mind should I meet someone. If that happened, I wouldn’t just plough on regardless. My priorities would no doubt change. My interests might change. It just means that I think there’s more to life, and the world, and I want to go see it. I want to go have adventures, I want freedom, I want to explore, I want to learn about myself and go make mistakes. I want the ability to be able to change my life if I need to, not feel like I’m stuck. Whether that’s alone or with someone.
So here’s the thing that I get most grief about. How can I do it? Because I’m a big advocate of taking that chance and making the most of life. Doing the stuff you want. “But I can’t do that” people say. “Not everyone can do it”, followed by “you’re lucky”. Bollocks. All of this is guts to make a decision, making sacrifices and a bit of hard work and effort. Let’s separate a few things out here. Usually when people say this, it’s always about the monetary aspect and how to afford a ‘big trip’. And then there’s the ‘things’ keeping people from doing things that are slightly different (e.g. longer than the usual 2 week holiday allowance).
Money. Yes, I’m lucky I get paid a good salary. But I also live by myself and have to make choices about what I spend my money on once all the bills are paid. If you *really* want to do something, you can do it. Being strict with how much I save each month. Sacrifices. Like when I went travelling the first time. I moved out of my house and lived with Alex for a few months. Living by myself and having my own space is mega important to me, so it was a big wrench to do it. But I did; I needed the cash. I’d do it again if I needed to. I sold a load of my stuff. My car is not flash. I hardly ever go clothes shopping. I rough it when going away. Sometimes I don’t like the kind of jobs I do, but do it because it’s a means to an end to give me life choices. Some of my stuff is second hand but it does the job. And travel and stuff is, or can be, much cheaper than you think. You might have to rough it, or get creative with stuff. But, you work out how much it will cost. You save. You add a bit of contingency on. And also, don’t forget that when you haven’t got all your usual monthly outgoings/bills to pay for, then all of a sudden you don’t need your monthly salary. So don’t panic. Roll with it.
And there’s the things. Ah yes, The Things. The mortgage. The job. The pension. The furniture. Again, it’s all possible. You rent your house out. You quit your job or ask for extended leave, or a sabbatical. You save up more to cover your pension, or be OK with the time out because in the grand scheme of all those years it’s a tiny bit. You put your stuff into storage. It’s not difficult. Yes – it takes some effort. Yes – it takes some organising and balls. But it’s all doable. It’s just whether you want it or not, and how bad you want it.
“Will I ever get a job again?”
I don’t know, will you? That’s down to you. How lazy do you feel about applying for jobs? How flexible will you be? What do you want to do? Your destiny is in your hands, have faith in YOURSELF to go out and get what you deserve.Don’t forget the shedload of skills you will come back with. Increased confidence, life experience, communication and negotiation skills. Don’t forget you’ll learn a hell of a lot that will help you with getting a new job even more. Or you might keep your old job. ‘But they won’t give me the time off’. Have you actually asked? You might be surprised. If you never ask, you’ll never know. That applies to everything.
It’s about knowing what your dream is, and then figuring out how to do it. Everything is possible with hard work, effort and some creative thinking.
People say what about when I meet someone and ‘settle down’? But why does meeting someone mean settling down? What about going on adventures together? What about being in a relationship AND being adventurous and wild? It can happen you know. There is nothing in the marriage law the last time I looked. I don’t even know what people mean by settling down half the time. I’d just like to meet someone who’s into the same things, who wants the same things. Or at least has that same open mindset. And yes, I would actually like to meet someone. I’m not a total ice maiden.
You see, it’s not really about taking off for long term travel. It’s not just doing a big adventure like cycling around the world. It’s just about having a slightly different mindset about living life to the full. An open mind to opportunities, and not restricting life inadvertently. Being willing to try new things, and sacrifice other stuff. And living in the moment. Which is why I don’t know one way or the other what I might be doing next year. It’s a long way away and I’ll have to see how I feel. I like having the choice. See how the next few months pan out. Maybe I will meet that elusive other half who also doesn’t watch TV, wants to live in a van and go see what’s out there in the world.
It’s all about not being afraid to take the leap. Or being afraid and doing it anyway. Little adventures or big adventures, both are equally valid and can be as equally life changing. Leaping outside the comfort zone. Life can be short. The office and job will pretty much always be there. The health, fitness and opportunity for physical adventure like I want to do may not.
There are other ways to live life. Please stop asking me to justify why I might be interested in them or try to squash my dreams, even if I’m not sure what they are quite yet. Yes, I might be an idealist and a romantic, but perhaps indulge me for a while.