Growing up I can never remember a time when I had a clear focus of what I wanted to do with my life. This is my story on how traveling redefined my priorities! My brother and I were very different in that way! He was exceptionally focused and knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Now at the young age of 24 he is the co-owner of his very own company!
I on the other hand, at the age of 27, am still not entirely sure what it is that I’m supposed to be doing with my life! And you know what, I’m completely fine with that. Growing up I wanted to be everything under the sun. A dancer, a horse rider (even though I had never had a lesson in my life), a lifeguard, a tour guide, an air-hostess and the list goes on! The only thing that I know is that I have always been a dreamer and ALWAYS will be!
One thing that I was always passionate about is traveling (and makes sense given a lot of my above ‘career options’)! My parents traveled with me from a very young age. In fact they did a three month eurotrip with me when I was just 18 months old! My mom is convinced that this is the reason that I am so exceptionally wanderlust! I grew up with the travel bug!
In 2012, after completing my honours degree in Marketing Management, I was seriously considering a life of travel. I had no intention of finding a job! And then I met my boyfriend, who I have now been with for the past 5 years! I spent the next 4 years in and out of jobs, trying to find my perfect fit but my heart was still intent on travelling! Last year, we finally made the decision to give this travel life a go. We have spent the last 9 months based in London while travelling Europe.
How traveling redefined my priorities and changed my outlook on life
1. I realise now that routine is not the enemy
Trapped in my daily 9 to 5 job in South Africa, overwhelmed by living in a routine, all I could think about was travelling the world! I honestly thought that given the choice I would spend the rest of my life moving from place to place! Now, after spending a few short months living abroad and traveling, I have come to the conclusion that ultimately this is not what I want! Yes, it’s exactly what I want right now but there will come a time when I want to settle down with my boyfriend, start a family and add a little more normality to our lives! I know now that this time will come and probably sooner than I had anticipated!
2. The value in looking at the bigger picture
I tend to be quite impulsive and have a tendency to make decisions without thinking them through fully! I am very close to my family! While I knew that I would miss them immensely, I never thought about the consequences in between! Do I really want to spend the years living apart from them? Seeing them once, maybe twice a year? The answer is of course NO! Now this doesn’t mean that we are going to pack up our things right now and travel back home. But it does open up a lot of scenarios that I hadn’t considered before! Suddenly settling abroad permanently doesn’t look so appealing.
3. I’m learning the importance of experiences
I have learnt to appreciate the smaller things in life! Growing up in South Africa, I’ve always had a pretty good idea about the difference between the rich and poor and how badly some people are suffering! While this is evident everywhere in South Africa, I still lived a pretty sheltered life! Traveling opens your eyes to the suffering all around the world! There are people everywhere who would love to have half of what you have! While I’ve never been materialistic to the extreme end, I have to admit that I do like nice things! But travel has redefined my senses of what I really need in life to make me happy. I’ve come to realise the value of experiences over things on a whole new level! Besides you can’t take many ‘things’ with you when you relocate.
4. I have come to realise my strength
Although I have never had a clear focus of what I wanted to with my life in terms of a career, I have always been exceptionally driven in the decisions that I do make! My family has always said, “when Hayley says she’s going to do something, you know she’s going to do it!”. I never really thought about this until recently when I realised that I have achieved every ‘big’ thing that I have set my mind on!
I never would have considered myself a strong person. Although I hadn’t really thought about it but this move brought to light my true strength! When I really sat down to think about it, I realised the strength and commitment that it takes for someone to have the courage to quit their job, pack up everything and move to another country! While I know many people take this route, there are a lot of people who dream about it but allow fear to take over! I now know that inner-strength is something that I have and a valuable part of achieving my goals.
5. It’s completely fine and in fact a gift to “Go with the flow”
Throughout my life I have always been described as “easy-going” and “laid-back”. Your typical free spirit who is quite happy to go with the flow. I will never forget during my studies, one of my fellow classmates asked me the following question: “How do you get through life?”. As insensitive as it sounds, she actually did not mean it in a malicious way at all. She was basically asking me how I manage to get through all the tests, exams, work and the stresses of life without seeming to have a worry in the world. At the time her comment did seem a little off but I now know that to have the “go with the flow” attitude is in fact a gift! To be completely honest since leaving university, getting a full time job and taking on full adult responsibilities, I feel like I may have lost a bit of my inkling to “go with the flow”. But this past year has taught me how utterly important it is to just let go and let life take you on your journey. I never want to lose the sense of being a free spirit.
The most valuable thing that I have learnt from traveling is the importance of following your heart! It has to be a priority in your life! If you don’t like your job quit, if you’re in a toxic relationship get out, if you don’t like where you are move! It really is that simple! If you want something bad enough you will have it!
Thanks to travel I am completely content with not having everything figured out. Not knowing where I will be in the next year or two and having no clue what life has in store for me are things that make everyday life exciting. I have a multitude of opportunities and anything could happen! That is the thrill of life.