Over the weekend I hit the 5-month mark of experiencing Australia. *shakes head* I can’t believe it! I mean, it certainly feels like I’ve been here for at least that long, but I still can’t quite believe it’s true.
Today I am reminded that I am living a dream. For four years I saved in the event long-term travel and I were destined to meet. The desire was there, yet I wrestled with the reality of quitting a job and missing precious time with family and friends. After countless discussions, lots of prayers, and a ticking clock (i.e., the age limit on the visa), I decided to take a leap into the unknown and LIVE the dream of spending a year in Australia.
Every day you postpone a dream you weaken it a little. The longer you wait, the less likely you will ever chase it. -A. Liverman, Delaying the Real World-
Early on, one of the big questions I asked of myself was how would my ultimate decision (whether or not to go) would impact the rest of my life. One friend read my mind and phrased it perfectly in an email while I was still on the fence: Can you hear yourself saying “I had the opportunity to leave for a trip, but if I had I wouldn’t be where I am today” or “I took a trip and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be where I am today”. Neither are negative – you’ll have different life experiences no matter which you choose, both a mix of good and bad I’m sure. After reading this a tiny voice in my head said “pick the latter!” Life is a series of choices and the consequences of those choices forge paths for the future that may not have existed had we selected differently. I knew that no matter whether I stayed at home or left for Oz, the rest of my life would be different, that different didn’t mean better or worse, and that by choosing Oz, I’d have one less regret in life.
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else… -Emerson-
I came to a point in my life where I knew I would always regret not trying. I didn’t want to wake up one day 20, 30, or 40 years down the road and wonder what could have been…if I could have handled a year living in another country or if I would have returned after 3 months. I didn’t want to wonder about people I would never have met or places I would never have seen by choosing not to go.
Pursuing a dream doesn’t mean everything is going to be exciting, thrilling, easy, or fantastic. About 3 months before my departure date, a wicked case of nerves showed up on my doorstep and didn’t leave until I was on the plane from LAX to Sydney (confession: I quietly sobbed in a bathroom stall at LAX when a sense of “ohmygoshwhatamIdoing” descended at once). One month into my time here in Oz, I cried nearly every day just because. Four months in and the day before a friend came to visit, homesickness knocked on the door just before breakfast and waltzed right on in to take over my morning.
Thankfully I love identifying and normalizing change and how it affects us. I may be living a dream, yes, but that doesn’t mean that every day should be full of sunshine and rainbows. It’s life and that means I’ll encounter the good, the bad, and the ugly. If I can remember during the tough times that “this too is normal and shall pass”, then I’m doing okay. View this lovely chart describing our internal emotional response to change.
I am blessed beyond words to be here. Even on the most difficult day, when I asked myself “are you ready to pack your bags and go home”, the answer was no. I’ve met people who will be a part of my life forever. I’ve seen places I hoped to like the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback. I’ve tasted kangaroo, emu, and more tasty pastries than one should consume. I fell in love with Adelaide, Coober Pedy, Brisbane, Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands, and Sydney’s Inner West. I have a flat, a great flat mate, and a job. I’m finding my inner foodie and secretly wish to be a food photographer and blogger. I’ve had two friends visit me in Sydney, and my parents will be here in just a week and a half. I’m missing my favorite season back home, but my family started a Facebook album to document Saturdays full of football, food, and friends. I’ve learned heaps about myself — not all of it new, but having things confirmed anew…these “lessons/realizations” have been my biggest moments of growth. Maybe I’ll share them at the 6-month “state of the union” post. I skipped over a month 2, 3, and 4 post, so I’m certainly due for some introspective ones.
I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I may not know where I’ll be a few months from now, but for this moment, I’m right where I’m meant to be. After one month I thought I might return home after New Years. At the end of month two, it was the opposite — not only would I stay in Oz for the entire year, but I would spend the rest of my travel money to see New Zealand, SE Asia, and visit friends in Europe before returning home. By month four, I was homesick and ready to spend next summer and fall in the US. From month four to five, my thoughts and feelings have continued to change. So I’m giving up trying to guess where I’ll be when this visa expires…I know my experiences here will continue to shift and shape the future. What I thought two months ago isn’t the case today, and what I think today may evolve in the weeks and months to come. One of the things I’ve learned is how daydream/future oriented I am. This isn’t inherently bad, but sometimes I need to be more centered on the present.
I’m living what is my biggest dream to date, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Whether I’ve had a day that’s close enough to perfect or one that leaves me in tears, I’m living, breathing, and experiencing long-term travel in Australia. As I approach the half-way mark, I need to make a commitment to myself (and you can help keep me accountable). I want to make the most of the rest of my time here — however long that may be. I don’t want to to watch days pass by. I don’t want to waste a moment. That doesn’t mean I won’t relax and spend time on the couch
sometimes daily. But I want to be mindful of each day I have and enjoy life, focus on wellness, take risks, and cultivate relationships. I want to wake up each day and choose to LIVE that day. That should be a commitment for the rest of my life, not just the next few months.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re a) a family member, b) one of my closest friends pre-Oz, or c) a fellow traveler from Twitter. Thanks for sticking with me these last five months and for your emails, FB messages, tweets, and comments. I love having encouragement & support around the world — and it means the world. ♥