If you had of met me at 18 years old, and gave me an overview of my life until now (9 years into the future), I would have said,
“Wow that girl sounds crazy and fun, who is she?”
Never would I have even dreamt of doing the things that I have done up until this point. Especially above all else, I wouldn’t have even considered a life of travel. I couldn’t have ever imagined, that the thought that now runs through my mind most frequently is, where should I go next?
You are young, ambitious, big dreams, goals and have great aspirations for the future. You know what you want and what you are going to do to get there? Or if no set plan in place, you at least have a vague idea. That absolutely was not me.
The old me
According to the last 9 years of my life, my destined path was travel. However if you had of told 18-year-old me that, I wouldn’t have believed you in a million years. At 18 years old, my big career ambition was to work towards someone else’s dream. To be able to have a 9-5 job with weekends off. Lush.
I was (and still am) indecisive. I conjure up grand plans and set out on a mission for what I will do to achieve them. However, I would have multiple of these grand plans in a single day! And if I had a new big idea in the morning, I would have forgotten it by midday. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a journalist or a dance teacher. These plans went out the window the day I got my drivers license and never went back to school.
Instead, I started working casually. Eventually picked up 4 different jobs in different fields to keep my life interesting and busy. I would work with no days off, constantly driving around to different locations, enjoying the variety of this lifestyle that I managed to maintain for almost a year.
A life without a dream
You see, I didn’t have these big dreams of travelling the world or living a nomadic lifestyle. I actually don’t remember having any big dreams at all! Instead, I decided that my path was to get a job in the corporate world and make my way up the ladder to become a personal assistant. Now looking back, that thought makes me want to shake my former naïve baby self, and say, “dream big girlfriend, there are no limits!”
So, I took action and decided to apply online to almost any non-hospitality-based job I could find within Sydney. I needed a corporate starting point and applied for almost 100 jobs. I was bustling with anticipation at my new lifestyle possibility. Over the next few days, my phone was pretty quiet. There seemed to be no prospects of a new career anytime soon. Turns out the universe had a different plan in mind, lucky for me.
An unexpected job
Days later I finally received a call regarding a job opportunity.
Bear in mind this life-changing phone call didn’t start off with an amazing opening statement like you would imagine in the movies. Basically, it started with a soft rejection.
The employer had mentioned the position of a night-time security guard and a receptionist that I had applied for was not suitable, seeing as I had no qualifications or experience in this role.
However, would I be interested in a position as a waitress? Let me be frank, no. I had absolutely no interest in being a waitress. It was exactly what I was avoiding. However, it had been days with no calls and this gig was fulltime. So, I decided that I’d take the interview.
I’ll pause here for a small inspirational moment. If I didn’t accept that job interview for a position that didn’t really interest me, I would not be in the position I am today. My life would not be as it is right now. It pays to investigate opportunities, even the ones we feel not so enthusiastic about. Do yourself a favour and just investigate.
During the interview, I found out this job was way more than just being a waitress. It involved so many things that I was very passionate about. By the end of the conversation, I was genuinely hoping that I would get the job!
First day out
Surprise, I got the job! I was overjoyed, super excited and overly happy that I had explored this unexpected avenue. There was an even bigger surprise. I was informed that I would fly out to my destination in a few day’s time. They would book the flight for me after I signed my contract, perfect!
Hold on that’s strange, why on earth would I need to fly somewhere in Sydney? What on earth have I gotten myself in to? Again, where do you need to fly to in Sydney?!
News flash! The job wasn’t in Sydney. It was actually in The Whitsundays, on a tropical island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef! I mean, what are the chances?!
Here I was freshly 18 years old, “dreaming” of corporate life. Instead, I got a plane ticket booked for a few days’ time with absolutely no clue what’s in store. Life really did throw a few fantastic spanners in the works, so to say.
That was just the beginning of my story as we know it today. What flowed on from this opportunity was the start of my self discovery journey. Which may I just throw in, is an essential journey for us all to part take in.
Learning about myself, what I enjoyed, what I disagreed with, my sense of curiosity and my adaptability, was an interesting ride. Couple all of that with a few bouts of homesickness and a new experience overload! I was in a completely unfamiliar area and knew not one single person. I really hadn’t opened my mind before I arrived on the island. The possibilities of the world were in the air. At the time I hadn’t grasped the concept ‘there’s a whole world out there’.
My new place of employment was predominantly staffed with international travellers. Some were brought to the country through the company and others making their way around Australia on their own terms. The notion that you could actually go and work in different places around the world, and get paid for it, was completely foreign to me!
There were many travellers there that were close to me in age. Who told them that this travel life was an option? How did they manage to bring themselves across to the opposite side of the world and find a job?
I got to know them and listened to their travel stories. Their needs to live a full and interesting life resonated with me. I heard their challenges and marvelled at their triumphs. My inner sense of adventure was moving and awakening. My explorer nature was developing and my desire to discover the unknown was present.
Learn and grow
It is important to mention that what I knew about the world was pretty basic. What I knew about Australia geographically was also very poor. Please note that at that stage, I thought that Cairns was in the Northern Territory (its in Queensland). To be honest, I probably believed that for a few more weeks. I could only admit that now as a measure of growth, 9 years later I have been to many places around Australia and around the world. Fortunately for me, I am now a little less naïve and a little more geographically aware.
My life now is completely different to what I could have ever conjured up in my wildest dreams. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had. It certainly hasn’t always been the perfect journey. But that is exactly the point of a journey, to learn and grow. Although I do always trust that things will work out as they are supposed to, I do wonder what would have happened if I declined the interview or didn’t take the job at all. The possibilities that I would have missed from being closed-minded are incredible.
I now have the mentality of the necessity to explore more opportunities. At least explore them far enough to know what they are all about. Have your options clear and in front of you before you make your decision.
Set your spirit free
You just never know which opportunity will be the life-changing one that you never even knew you were waiting for.
To contradict the above, I am also a big believer in taking risks. If something isn’t so clear but it sparks your interest, or it just feels right, go for it!
As they say, it is always the things that we don’t do that we regret the most.
Let that inner free spirit, adventurous nature run wild through your body. Don’t let yourself ever wonder ‘what if’. Go out and find your answer to that ‘what if’ question, rather than ponder. Be curious and be bold.
If you don’t know what it is that you are passionate about, or what sets your soul on fire, find out. Try new things, challenge yourself to do something out of the ordinary. Eventually, you will find your calling. It’s the thing you are so passionate about that you don’t ever stop thinking about. It could be what you least expect.