It was October of 2015, and it was a foggy morning.
I was running over the question in my mind for the thousandth time. Is $4000 enough? What am I going to do when I get there? Where will I live? What if they don’t approve my visa? What if I go broke and end up back where I am now? I was seriously considering moving back to Germany, but I had no idea how, when, what, where, or why. So ultimately, I shoved the dream to the side. I let one negative comment allow me to believe it wasn’t possible, rather than ignoring the doubters who will inevitably always be there.
Now two years later, I’m asking myself, so what? Germany has been sitting at the back of my mind, it’s always been an interminable idea. I have unfinished business there. I won’t be able to be content until I see it through. So why didn’t I do it two years ago? Bite the bullet? It’s hard to say precisely, but the pressure from everyone in my life felt too real, I had to finish school, how could I think of doing something before that was done? I had just had a year of “slacking off”, by living in Europe and traveling at the weekends and drinking my face off.
In hindsight, maybe the pressure wasn’t even real, maybe I made it up in my mind as an excuse. I wasn’t confident enough in myself to actually think for a minute before allowing others to dictate my future.
Either way, I didn’t allow myself to think about it for too long. I didn’t allow myself the idea that it was possible. I had my fun, then it was time to get serious. Or so I thought…
Because when I think about it now, I realize it is a dream I’m allowing myself to live out. And dreams are scary, because they may not turn out how we want them to.
Whatever you really want to do, you probably have dozens of excuses, lying dormant at the back of your mind ready to be put into use. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Semuc Champey, Guatemala and Antigua, Guatemala (yeah I’m a bit obsessed with Guatemala)
I can chalk it up to just not “being ready”, but really I was probably just scared of the commitment. Going back to Germany didn’t feel adventurous enough. I needed to make some mistakes first. There was this false sense of permanence that I felt lingered over me if I went back. It was too easy. I needed to go to somewhere besides Europe, somewhere where boundaries were pushed daily, somewhere that forced me to come to peace with myself and my wandering soul. Somewhere where it was obvious I wouldn’t settle long-term.
So I backpacked alone through Central America, I partied way too much, but made some of my most amazing memories. I went to school again and again and again, from business to journalism to hospitality. I had many many boyfriends and claimed to be “over” the guy that they all knew I wasn’t. It’s funny how people can see something so clearly in you that you refuse to admit yourself. I didn’t tire my travel bug out, not at all. I also definitely didn’t “find myself” in this time, but I learned a lot. I learned a lot about how to properly be a vegetarian, because I was so unhealthy before, I learned how to talk to strangers, I learned how to enjoy exercise through hiking, and I learned how to love the people in my life, despite their flaws. This is just a short summary, because I can tell you a lot of other things. I also learned that sleeping in a hostel lobby to “not miss our flight”, actually makes you miss your flight. I can tell you that spending all your money on beer is fun but ends your trip WAY quicker than you wanted it to end. I can tell you that traveling absolutely does not take away depression, fear, sadness, things you left at home, things you want to forget or anything else you’re running from. It will catch up to you. So I’m glad I learned something out of this time, despite it not being what others expected of me.
And now I feel ready to go back. This time I’m opening myself up to a second chance. I’m going to go all in and let myself reap in the success or failure of my adventure.
I know myself way better now. As I’m sure I will in another 5 years when the results of this chance surface in different ways as well. But this time I’m allowing myself the power of my dream.
So what I’m saying is, take the riskier choice. Get out of your comfort zone. If you want to backpack South America for a year, but your friends think you’re crazy, do it anyways. If you want to move to another city and start over, but you’re scared, do it anyway. If you want to quit your job because you found an amazing one while searching online because you do that every day to escape your 9-5, then do it. If your type of risk is showing up at a new yoga class, cooking a crazy recipe, or joining a reggae band, by all means do that too.
What I’m saying is, it will work out, or maybe it won’t, but you will be happy you didn’t spend your entire life wondering WHEN you would make your dreams come true. Because only you can do that for yourself, and if you have to ask “when” it will happen to you, it won’t happen. Because you must put it into motion yourself.
Basically I’m rambling. But the amount of people who have came up to me and said, “I wish I could do what you’re doing,” or something else along those lines is alarming. People are so fascinated by taking a risk, because they secretly want the guts to do it too. People think its “brave”, maybe it is. But I don’t feel brave. People think it’s not possible for them, but really their priorities are in different places. People think it’s scary, to move somewhere where you know nobody. I realize that travelling isn’t for everybody, but I think everybody should experience it at least once. It gives you a different mindset. You realize you don’t need clothes and expensive cars to make you happy, you need new friends and a $2 beer in the streets of Vietnam, you need the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, you need the feeling of landing in a new city with zero knowledge of the language, transport system and history. You need the feeling of anonymity that comes with travel, allowing you to be whoever you want to be.
Okay, I’ll stop preaching. But take the chance. I hope this post wasn’t too all over the place. Did I inspire you at all? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do with your life? Why don’t you try?
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