Let me tell you about a girl. Soon, she’s going to jet off to New Zealand, leaving England for who knows how long. She’s excited and she’s had a couple of scared moments. It’s all new and exciting, something she’s never done before. She doesn’t have many plans for when she’s out there, but she’s doing it anyway, because it’s what she wants.
This is the situation of a very close friend of mine. And I really feel where she’s at, because I was that girl when I was planning my journey to Melbourne, Australia, three years ago now. Three years.
It was in early December 2011 when I found out I was officially accepted to study abroad in Australia. I was in a taxi on my way back to my student house from a Surf Club social at my university, UEA (in Norwich). I wasn’t very drunk, perhaps only mildly buzzed, but I remember the moment so well. I was on my own in the taxi, and checked my emails; I had been obsessively checking my emails since I sent off my application. This time I struck lucky. There it was, an unopened email from someone telling me they were pleased to let me know that I had a place at Monash University.
I wanted to squeal but didn’t allow myself in case I shocked the taxi driver (I wasn’t about to cause an accident and have neither of us going anywhere ever). Instead I closed my eyes tight as if they did the squealing for me. So many feelings filled up inside of me, like relief, happiness and this strange sense of belonging despite this news meaning that I was actually disassociating myself with a place I had made home just the year before.
I’m reminded of this feeling every time my friend talks about New Zealand, and I remember how incredible change can be. It makes me want to throw myself back into something new, something uncertain but brave and desirable to me. It reminds me that life doesn’t have to be lived on the straight and narrow if you don’t want it to.
So when I think of this feeling that comes from knowing you’re completely altering and changing your situation and experiences, it’s great to remind myself that no matter how comfortable or easy one way of life may be, the one you’ve built as a routine, the one you’ve got used to, change and shaking things up can be one of the best things for you.
I’ve talked about it in other posts, but my situation before I found out I was leaving for Australia was dire. I had a boyfriend I could rely on, but often wondered if a relationship with him was what I truly wanted. I had friends who were lovely at the time, but I knew I didn’t completely click with them. I was doing well at university, I had got used to my professors, I had a routine for doing work (or more often than not, a routine for getting distracted) and had certain nights out I would go on, with those same friends and same dramas. When I look back on it now, I’m glad I shook things up.
When you look at how your life goes now, are you doing the same thing every day? Do you get up at the same time, go to the same job, do the same thing and come home and do the same thing there? Do you then wish there was more? Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to be one of those people who say, “QUIT YOUR JOB, LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND AND TRAVEL THE WORLD”! I mean, of course I want people to see the world, but I think it’s kind of irresponsible to tell people to go sell everything, quit their job and travel nomadically forever and if they don’t, they’re not truly living. Different people, different dreams and different things that make them tick. If you’re happy in a job, or your daily routine, keep doing it. If you’re not, consider changing something.
I think I’m becoming stuck in this rut now. I never again wanted to call my life boring, which I’ve caught myself doing a few times recently. This may seem a bit weird: here I am posting about my travels, from California and Canada and I have upcoming trips to Barcelona and Iceland. But I don’t think it quite matters, because it’s down to the individual and what makes them happy; only you know if you’re happy with the level your days are at now. Only you know if you need more, or less, or just anything.
Let me tell you why change is good. First and foremost, it breathes a new life into you. It’s like you snap out of the dreary trance of boredom and regularity and suddenly awake with a new perspective. It’s a small example, but the other day my guitar was fixed after being broken for months, and I felt great. I suddenly had another option open to me of what I could do with my time. I could carry on practising, and I did immediately when I got home. The change doesn’t have to be big… it just has to inspire you.
Inspiration is a massively important thing in life, I’ve come to realise. When someone’s inspired, you can see the spark in their eye and how it tingles through them into passion. To be inspired makes you feel amazing because you realise what opportunity there is in the world, and it makes you feel like you’re living for something and can achieve anything. It opens you up to what you really want to spend your time doing and creates the best version of yourself. Anyone who’s inspired is someone I want to be around: they make fantastic company.
Change challenges you. I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for moving to the other side of the world, not knowing a single soul. It makes me smile every time I say that statement. I think we’re all a lot more capable than we give ourselves credit for… you just have to give yourself a chance.
I now know I can move to a country, sort out my flights, visa, bank and accommodation by myself. If (or maybe when…) the time comes, I know I can do that again. And if I can learn to do that, I’m pretty sure anyone can.
I’ll be honest: I’m partly writing this post to give myself a kick up the bum. When you get lost in routine, it’s hard to remember and muster up the effort to make change – however little or big – a more regular part of your life.
Whether it’s moving to a new country or picking up that dusty guitar in the corner, or anything inbetween, do something new, and preferably something that scares you. What have you always wanted to do or try? You might just surprise yourself.