Celebrate your achievements

With the year coming to a close, it feels natural to reflect on the last 12 months. Jack and I travelled to 10 countries within 3 continents including Australia, Asia and North America. We moved around by plane, train, taxi, bus, scooter, motorbike, and finally a 20-year-old van with a mattress in the back. We wined and dined in New Zealand, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, roamed through rice fields in Indonesia, explored ancient civilisations in Sri Lanka, and shared footsteps of kings in palaces of India. We trekked across the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, ate Pho with the locals in Vietnam, practiced 10 days of silence in Thailand, and drove a van across the United States.  We’ve been exposed to several different languages, religions, customs and cultures. We’ve eaten an abundance of exotic foods, tried some of the world’s best tea, and witnessed plenty of wild life in their natural habitat. Not bad for 12 months!

Ambiguous success

While being on the road doesn’t bring me any closer to getting a promotion, mortgage, Ph.D. or a settled and secure lifestyle, it still feels like an important achievement. When you’re travelling from place to place, coming across like-minded people who share the same values, prioritising experiences over security, doubt is the last thing that comes to mind. It feels right, it feels good and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Yet, there are days when I feel pressure to live up to societal expectations of what’s traditionally considered “successful.” There are days when I try to imagine myself staying in one place, settling in an office job, having kids, and giving up my nomadic lifestyle to build a foundation of security with Jack. Coming back to Western countries like Canada and Australia is a constant reminder that we’re living quite the unconventional lifestyle for our age. We see our friends moving into new roles at work, couples getting married, having children, and putting down mortgage payments. Yet, everything we own is small enough to fit inside a couple of backpacks. For a second, I question if I’m doing the right thing? Maybe I am lost? Maybe I’m confused about what I want in life? Is that why I keep moving around, looking for a solution? Perhaps I’m on a hollow journey leading nowhere fast? But then I think to myself, perhaps not. Perhaps it’s quite the opposite?

While I know and respect that everyone has different priorities, for me, if I stopped now, I feel like I could predict the next 5 years of my life. Given my curious nature and longing for adventure, that just doesn’t sit well with me, at least not right now. I meet fellow travellers with a similar internal debate, searching for a concrete answer to justify their nomadic behaviour. The truth is, we don’t need an answer. We just need to find our own bliss, and then live it. In the words a legendary professor and writer Joseph Campbell, “The privilege of a lifetime in being who you are.” If we aren’t that, who else are we supposed to be?

Risk & Reward

While regret is seemingly common among humans, I often consider it to be a useless emotion. We make our choices and it’s up to us what we do with them. Being confident in those choices is part of it. I frequently have people ask me if I ever get concerned, or worried about the outcome of my future? Sure, it’s risky taking this much time off work to travel. In the world as we know it, we need money to survive and our bank account isn’t infinite. There’s certainly a chance that we could be struggling and broke at the end of it all. However, there’s also the other possibility, the one we are less likely to consider. We’re going to be just fine, absolutely and positively fine. Jack and I are capable and ambitious, with our own dreams and thoughtful goals. We choose to look at life as an adventure, a bloody brilliant one too! So, I welcome 2017 with an open mind, blank slate, and an understanding that the pressure we put on ourselves isn’t worthy of our time, or energy. Be yourself my friends! No explanation required.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Next post: 10 Days of Silence – Vipassana