Back in September 2017, my friend Naomi and I set off on a three–month trip through Latin America. One year on – I’m still travelling; and I’m now also working remotely as a freelancer, and living out my dream of being able to earn money whilst seeing the world.
I never set off to ‘find myself’, and as with all my previous trips, for me travelling has always about seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. And eating new foods. All the food… Anyway, I didn’t set out to find my third eye, or my second belly button, or whatever. Having said that, during the last year, I have realised a few new things about myself and how I want to live my life. You do get a lot of time for reflection on 10-hour long bus journeys.
So here’s a few of my thoughts about it being ok to live the life that you want to. If you’re having doubts or a wobble (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), then I hope this can help you think “I’m doing good, I’ve got this”, without comparing yourself to others.
I turned 30. The biggest problem? My hangover the next day.
One of the realisations happened around the time I turned the grand old age of 30. I had an amazing day and was totally spoiled in Sapa, Vietnam (although it’s far from my favourite country, but more on that another time). I was away from family and friends, but still felt their love on the day, which was super special (thanks guys!).
In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I’d had lots of questions running through my mind…. Would turning 30 make a difference to how I feel about travelling? Was I supposed to live my life differently in my 30s? Where is my life heading? Am I supposed to be ‘settled down’ now (whatever that even means…)? I don’t own a car, a house, even furniture, but at the moment, none of that matters to me.
I was also wondering about how I wanted to spend the day itself–where did I want to be? What did I want to do – be adventurous and hike? Chill out and relax? Get drunk? Turns out, all of the above; and I realised, when I stopped to think properly , that I am doing so much of what I want to do on this trip, that one ‘special’ day didn’t really make all that much difference. Yes, I wanted it to be memorable, but when I am already living and experiencing what I want to on a daily basis, then one day isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Life is continuous and we have created these milestone ages, but do they really matter? Everyone is different and wants a variety of things from life. There are lots of lists which suggest ‘things to do before you’re 30’. Why 30? Why not 35.5 years old? Life is to be lived and I think, wherever possible, you should be doing what you want to do, when you want to do it. Go skinny-dipping aged 75 if you bloody well like!
Having a list of goals and dreams is a good thing, but I don’t think there’s a need to add an age to it. “You’re only as old as you feel” as the saying goes, and I’ve honestly met people in their 70s who are super fit and healthy, and able to do whatever they want.
There are no rules in life. There’s no set path.
Society can pressurise people to follow a set route in life, but that route is never usually straightforward. From my own experience, and from that of my friends, I know that life isn’t perfect, and it continually takes unexpected twists and turns. I’ve experienced those and whilst it’s tough at the time, I’ve come out stronger and knowing more about who I am and what I want from life.
“After the rain comes a rainbow” and “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” are a couple of phrases that have stuck with me, sent to me by friends at one point. I truly believe that the challenges you face in life are what shapes the person that you are today.
I could not have got through these times without the support of my friends and family. I’ll be forever grateful to those close to me who have helped me during the past year or two. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, close friends and family are always just a WhatsApp/phone call or flight away. Travel life is definitely not always just the beaches, mountains, wildlife and coffee shops, that you see on Instagram. So sometimes, a message from a close friend or family member is all you need to feel okay again.
We are all different and I know people who would never consider doing what I am doing. For me, I am exactly where I want to be right now; I know where I am going next week, but I don’t know where I’ll be in a month. I’ll decide that soon. This lifestyle won’t last forever, but for now I’m happy, and that is all that matters.
So, try to make sure you are living your life the way YOU want to. Not the way anyone else says you should. Stick two fingers up to anyone who tells you otherwise. No one has room for nay-sayers like that in their lives. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Thanks so much for reading and if you have any thoughts, please leave a comment below.
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