May 4th, 2019.
I’m interrupting the Vietnam motorbike journey with an exciting update.
If you’ve been keeping up over the past few days you’ll know that in late January my travels took me to Hoi An, Vietnam. During my time there, I made a decision I had been ruminating on for a while.
I decided to apply for a working holiday in Australia.
It’s an idea that began brewing when I arrived in Chiang Mai in November (the first stop of my trip), an idea that solidified in Pai, and one that I largely ignored after that.
I ignored it because it felt like a big decision. I’m twenty seven years old, surely I should be getting back to Amsterdam and figuring out my career, right? That was the plan. In a way it also felt almost greedy. As though I was saying 6 months of travel just isn’t enough.
A few weeks before I left Amsterdam, I found one of my old journals. Roughly 9 years ago I started writing for myself. I bought a journal and wrote down my thoughts, quotes I liked, or facts I wanted to learn. In the years since then, I have filled 23 journals. They are by far my most prized possessions. As I packed up my apartment in November and I prepared my journals to be put into storage, I read through some of them. What was particularly interesting was journal number one, which I started when I was seventeen years old. On the first two pages of this journal, I wrote my bucket list. And on that bucket list: “farming in Australia.”
Why seventeen year old me wanted to do farm work in Australia, I don’t know. How I even came up with it at the time, I don’t know. I knew nothing about working holiday visas at the time, and knew no one in Australia. But as I prepared to go on my six month trip, this old yellowed page and my seventeen year old dream kept coming back to me. A dream noted down in my own loopy handwriting. As I left home behind and arrived in Southeast Asia, I began to wonder why the trip had to be six months at all.
Fast forward to now. The other day a new friend asked me what made me decide to finally go traveling. It’s honestly a fascinating question and it’s one that I like to ask people as well. I think it sparks the most honest conversations. I’m quite sure that my answers have been slightly different every time. But this time I feel like I’ve gotten closer to the real answer than I ever have before.
I finally decided to go traveling because after years of preoccupying myself with all sorts of different things, I finally discovered one big one.
Insert drumroll here, I suppose.
I discovered an unwavering faith in my own intuition.
It sounds silly when you say it out loud, but it’s true.
After years of second guessing myself, of doing what I “think” I should do instead of what feels right, I’ve finally done it. I’ve cracked the code to really trusting my own gut feeling.
Quitting law school was just that. Deciding to go traveling, quitting my job, giving up my apartment. These are all things that I did because I felt deeply that it was what I needed to do. And for the first time, I trusted myself in that.
Deciding to work in Australia instead of just visiting there for one month – as initially planned – has been very much of the same process. Sure, there’s some rhyme and reason to it, and it’s something I’ve carefully considered. But when I really boil it down, I know that I’m doing it for the simple fact that it feels right. I feel in every inch of my body, in every crevice of my bones, that this is what I want to do next.
I’ve always had a plan for myself, a picture of what my life would look like. I would graduate with honors, I’d go to law school. I’d get a job, work my way up the ladder, become partner at a firm – or start up my own firm altogether.
Those things made sense to me. They worked for me. And they are all things that work for a whole lot of people. But as the years passed, that plan began to feel less right. While these were all things that a former version of myself wanted, they didn’t quite fit right anymore. Like a shoe you’ve outgrown, pinching your toes with every step.
For the person I have become today, these things are no longer what I want. But the good news is this. I am finding that often times, life has a bigger, better plan for you than you could have conceived of yourself. And so I’m going with it.
I’m going with my intuition, I’m going with what I know feels right. After months of telling fellow travelers that I’m going to do it (they say you need to manifest things, right?), it’s finally happening. In about twenty minutes I’m boarding my flight to Brisbane. I have a hostel booked for my first two days and then I can’t tell you what exactly will happen next.
I’m feeling excited in about a hundred different ways, nervous in about a hundred others. I feel the way I felt when I left Amsterdam back in November. Like I’m jumping off the deep end, but in the best way possible.
I was going to share this a bit later, because my personality is such that I like things to be in chronological order (c’mon, I know some of you can relate) but it feels somehow serendipitous that the day I fly out is also the day I came across this entry in my travel journal, an entry I originally wrote in January in Hoi An, Vietnam. I’ve still got stories that I’d like to share from my time in Southeast Asia, and I’ll definitely be doing so. But right now, in real time, this is where I’m at.
I finished the journal entry with this excerpt from a book I was reading at the time. It’s from Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island:
“I didn’t know anything, really, which is a strangely wonderful position to be in. Everything that lay before me was new and mysterious and exciting in a way you can’t imagine.”
And so it is. I’ll catch you guys on the flip side.