Two years ago today I boarded a plane to Shanghai, China. Nothing particularly special about that. Except by deciding to board that plane I’d made some of the hardest decisions of my life and I was about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life!!
On this anniversary I’ve been reflecting on the last two years quite a bit. These are my thoughts on the last two amazing and crazy years!
Two years ago, at the age of 36, I had what most would consider a very good life. A great career, a lovely home, fantastic friends and a supportive, loving family.
But I wasn’t happy.
Work had become nearly all consuming and stressful. I had bought into believing the expectations of what the life of a 36 year old woman should be like and as a result I was often weighed down by the thoughts that by my age I should’ve ‘found someone’ and had babies.
And underneath it all the I felt more and more restless. I was limited to taking holidays in short annual leaves bursts. It wasn’t enough and the idea of not travelling for an extended period of time bothered me.
So after I lot of time, reflection (and self-doubt) I decided it was time to take action. To actually realise I wasn’t happy took a lot of time and to acknowledge this is in itself wasn’t an easy thing. But I really do believe that ultimately we’re all responsible for our own happiness and sometimes to achieve that it means big change.
To take action wasn’t easy.
I decided to say goodbye to my family, including a gorgeous nephew and an adorable niece who mean the world to me.
I decided to say goodbye to friends and the city that I called home.
I decided to leave that great career.
I decided to leave the expectations behind, especially those expectations of what a 36 year old female should be doing!
I decided to leave for an indefinite time.
I decided to follow my heart and my dreams.
I decided to take a risk.
I boarded the plane to Shanghai, China with only a rough plan to follow the Silk Road from China through Central Asia on to Europe, and then to South America.
A trip that saw me travel from the dizzying lights of cosmopolitan Shanghai over the deserts of China, across the mountains into Kyrgyzstan, through the unique and unusual Uzbekistan and onto the even stranger country that is Turkmenistan, on to incredible Iran and finally through Eastern Turkey to reach Istanbul.
A trip that saw me follow in the shadow of the Orient Express from Istanbul through Europe and onto London.
A trip that saw me spend a month exploring the beyond incredible mountains of Patagonia, beach hop for weeks in beautiful Brazil, discover how wonderful Columbia really is and to travel over the salt flats of Bolivia into the highest desert in the world in Chile.
When my trip finished this is what I posted on Facebook:
I’ve said it many times this trip, this adventure was EPIC!
My epic adventure really was on another level. On this trip I felt that I finally understood what it meant that my life was mine for the shaping. I could create the life I wanted. I also started to realise my file does;t have to be conventional or normal.
Adjusting to being home after extended travelling has been difficult and wonderful on so many levels.
To be able to spend time with family and friends has obviously been amazing. It is such precious time.
But even one year after arriving home I still often feel out of place and when I first came home that feeling was quite intense.
Nomadic Matt’s blog post about post-trip depression really resonated with me.
So much was still the same when I came home. Life at home often feels like groundhog day, every day a repetition of the last, commuting with so many people in a new zombie like mode, constantly wishing for the weekend and therefore effectively wishing your life away!!
I don’t want to constantly wonder ‘is this it, is this all there is?’
In contrast for nearly a year my life had been full of incredible adventures.
It had also been full of challenges like organising visas for Central Asian countries, negotiating with dodgy taxi drivers, negotiating border crossing where soldiers armed with massive guns was a regular occurrence.
While travelling I’d also seen so many people with very little, people living in poverty, many people who lived in countries where the government controlled, manipulated the people.
In contrast life in Sydney was free, easy and full of so many choices!! Especially, when it came to shopping.
I’ll never forget the anxious, nearly hyper-ventilating like feeling I had being back in a Western supermarket. The shelves heaving with goods. The advertisements everywhere urging us to buy more, more and more.
I’d lived with so little and knew how little I needed to be happy. The mass consumerism made me feel nauseous and extremely uncomfortable.
It’s been over a year since my trip ended and I still miss the trip terribly. I still can’t explain how much this one meant to me. I have rediscovered myself and that time, those challenges and adventures are a deep, cherished part of who I now am.
So what happens next?
Well I’m still trying to figure that out!
Wanderlust courses, strong and deep within me. It always has and always will.
But I’m not convinced the life of a nomad, non-stop travelling is for me (perhaps I will be persuaded one day!).
For now I am back in the office, corporate life. I’m also not convinced this is ultimately for me but it enables me to start explore options of how my life should be.
Lately I’ve been exploring more and more in my own backyard, Sydney. Treating my hometown like a tourist destination, which it is! I’ve discovered so much and spent a lot of time in nature, the ultimate way to reconnect and unwind.
My blog will re-focus on bringing you my discoveries and explorations from Sydney and nearby (those places that perhaps aren’t so obvious) together with sharing my trips further afield (like Tasmania and Uluru) and of course my adventures overseas (Samoa and Iceland are next!!).
I truly hope my stories and photos inspire you to get out there to explore and see some of this big, beautiful world.
But even more so, if I could inspire you to travel solo (especially any other gals out there!) I would be thrilled beyond words.
Reflecting on these last two years has been so much fun, especially looking back at all my photos and remembering all the incredible experiences. I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me for the ride.
If you want to see more photos of my from my travels check out my Facebook page!!