Four years ago I started planning my trip around the world, determined I would take off within the next few months. However, priorities and plans changed along the way and I decided it made a whole lot more sense to study to improve my writing skills. I knew I was not quite there yet. I knew I needed to practice writing, and probably also settle in a place for a little while before taking off to explore the world – and write about it.
Four years of studies later, and a total of five years in the UK, it is time. If I don’t go on my big adventure now (or soon), I am not sure I ever will.
Now is the time when I need to try to do things my way. I have tried the mainstream way – and done it the mainstream way and more or less felt misplaced. Yet, I have accomplished my goals and more beyond them.
For years I have been preaching about that there are no rights or wrongs, that different ways work for different people, that university is not for everyone, that we all just need to listen to our guts and heart – to the extent this is possible. And whenever it might not be possible, we just need to make it possible.
For years I have wanted to do a Steve Jobs, and now recently, my own version of Eat, Pray and Love.
In Eat, Pray and Love, Liz Gilbert sets out to heal and find herself after having divorced her husband. She says she feels completely dead inside, that she feels nothing and that she wants to get the chance to marvel at something. She buys three tickets – one to Italy, one to India and one to Bali. With each stop she has a different goal. (I am not going to spoil more of the story. It is definetely worth a read/watch.)
As Liz announces her plan to her best friend, she gets the response “What if it doesn’t work?”
What if going away for a year won’t heal her?
Of course, taking a bag and set off for the world may not be the solution to life. Maybe I’ll return after my adventure, still not knowing what to do next. But at least then I have tried and can eliminate that option. And this must be a whole lot better than sitting there at age 80 wondering what would have happened if I took the chance to try it my way.
We only get one chance at life (well, so they say, depending on what religion you are an adherer of). It is too precious to just sit around waiting for next big thing to happen, waiting for the chance or opportunity to come to make a change. Sometimes we need to create the opportunities for ourselves and grasp them.
It is easy to fall foul for the norm, to come to believe we too need to live life the “normal” way, i.e. finish high school, go straight to uni, perhaps taking a gap year, then start working within our field and then settle down and then just watch life go by before our eyes.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this, if this is what one wants. I am just saying that doing it a completely different way is not necessarily wrong. I, who always have been seen as brave, strong and “different”, also wonder if I should perhaps live life in a more ordinary way.
Even the rebellious ones are affected by the norm. Nobody can fully exist outside it.
Last summer, as I talked about how I have lived out of my suitcase for five years and have been (sort of) homeless during this time – and subtly implementing that there might be something wrong about this, a good friend of mine said:
But that is your life.
This friend of mine always manages to make things sound so simple. Maybe that is just the way it is. This is my life, because it is the way that suits my personality the best.
Another friend of mine recently emphasised that as long as it makes me happy to wander around the world, there is nothing wrong with it.
There is plenty of time to settle down later.
You gotta live while you still can, make the most out of each day while you still have a chance. One of these days I too will have bills to pay, a house to look after and perhaps even a family to feed.
As for now, having a ripped suitcase and a job here and a job there, and studies in yet another country works.