The ideal image of the ‘perfect life’ is something that’s ingrained into our thoughts and daily life from a very young age. As soon as we are old enough, we are taught to grasp the idea that it is bad to be unique and we must avoid being different from everyone else.
Most people grow up wanting society’s idea of what the picture perfect life looks like; fall in love, get married, have kids, get a good job where you’ll make enough money to buy a big house and a flashy car to drive around in.
As a young girl I too wanted this picture perfect life, I had envisioned almost every aspect of it – even down to what my wedding dress would look like (maybe I went a little too far with that one!).
The plan was in place.
I was going to become a teacher, fall in love at 24, get married at 27, buy a 5 bedroomed house in the countryside and have my first child at 28.
Well, it hasn’t quite turned out that way!
I’m now 28 – I am not a teacher, I am in love, I’m not married, I don’t own a house in the countryside and I don’t have any kids.
And I’m absolutely fine with that.
“You’ve got one go in life, so make the most of it.”
Conforming to society is something that I’ve given quite some thought to as it completely frustrates me.
[Tweet “Society tries to place as many boundaries on us as individuals as to what it is acceptable and what is not.”]
Why should we feel the need to conform to what everyone else is doing?
I didn’t know it at the time but everything I wanted out of my life was conforming to exactly what society wants me to do.
Doing my first bit of travelling with Carlo and seeing a different side to the world made me begin to question my goals in life. I began to think…
“Do I want to live in just one place for the rest of my life?”
“Am I prepared to work in the same job for 20 years?
“Do I want to waste my youth working and retire when my body is old and not as strong as it was?”
“Do I want to work 9-5 every day only to come home and eat dinner, fall asleep on the couch and recharge my batteries for the following day?”
“Would I happy to live a life where Saturdays and Sundays are the only two days of the week where I can do what I want to do?”
“Do I want to sacrifice my time and work extremely hard just to pay a mortgage on a house that will take 30 years for me to be able to call it my own?”
The answer I came up with a resounding NO.
Giving up my job and leaving my family and friends behind was awfully difficult as I actually enjoyed the job I was doing and I adore spending time with my nieces, nephews and the people who I love.
But, I knew it was a compromise I had to make and I had to take a leap into the unknown – for my own sake.
“It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all”
One year on and I am happy and fortunate to say that I have zero regrets.
Don’t get me wrong, travelling full-time is not all rosy and it is extremely difficult at times.
It’s not all about lying on beaches, staying in nice hotels and eating out in restaurants every night. I get homesick, I miss my family and friends, I miss my dog, sometimes I get angry because all I want is a clean bed, a hot shower and a home cooked meal.
But then there is the upside.
We get to experience some incredible adventures, we get to sleep in until whatever time we want to, we get to decide how our day pans out, we get to work the hours that we want, we get to visit new countries and we get to meet amazing new people along the way.
People often say to me “ye are so lucky to be off travelling” – but I don’t think we are necessarily ‘lucky.’
This travel lifestyle isn’t something that just fell on our lap, we made a conscious decision to do what we are doing.
We worked hard to save money so that we would have savings to fall back on, Carlo put a tremendous amount of effort into setting up our online businesses so we could make a living while on the road and we are both working exceptionally hard to build on these foundations.
We were lucky in the sense that we had no commitments that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do – no kids, no mortgage, no bills to pay and no restraints that were holding us back.
Our choice to change our life as we knew it was something that we both embraced.
Change is one of the scariest things in life, and that’s why we try and avoid it as best we can. Giving up your job and leaving home to go and seek new adventures might not necessarily be the change that you need to make in your life.
Some people don’t have any interest in travelling. A big house and a nice car is what make some people happy and that’s absolutely fine. Some people have commitments and need to work long hours in a job they might not necessarily like in order to provide for their family. I get that.
But we only get one shot at life. We don’t get a second chance.
If there is something that’s getting you down and stressing you out, it’s worth the effort to try and do everything in your power to change it – you owe it to yourself.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
There are times when I hear that one of my friends or someone my own age from my hometown has got engaged, had a new baby or bought a new house and I feel slightly pressured and think, “Are we doing the right thing?” “Now that a year has passed, is it time to settle down?”
That’s when I think of these two scenarios:
Do I want to be the 80-year-old grandmother who is full of regret and constantly says to her grandkids, “Ah, I wish I was young again. I would love to have done things differently.”
Or do I want to be the 80-year-old grandmother who is happy that she took the risks that she did and says to her grandkids, “Yeah that’s me riding a motorbike in Vietnam,” “Yeah that’s me climbing a volcano in Bali”, and “Yes that’s me doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.”
I want to be the latter.
I know that no matter how things fair out in the end, I will never regret the decision that I made and all that we’ve experienced over the past year.
I’m not prepared to wait until I reach retirement age to do the things that I want to do. I’m going to do them now while I’m young and have the health to do them.
It took me a long time to realise that ‘conforming to society’ was something that I didn’t have to do.
It’s ok to be different, it’s ok not to be married just because you’re a certain age, it’s ok not to have children just because your friends have, it’s ok not to have a big house like your best friend has, it’s ok not to be in a serious relationship just because everyone around you is telling you that you should settle down.
It’s ok to do what you want with your life.
Settling down, having stability, living in a nice house and having kids is something that I definitely do want (after all, I do need grandchildren to tell my travel adventure stories to!), but not right now.
Right now, I’m quite happy to be living an alternative lifestyle and our focus is on exploring new places, meeting new people, experiencing new adventures, learning new things and making memories that will last a lifetime.