”Change before you have to”
// October 2015 //
In 16 days from now I leave home to hit the road for the third time within the last two years. Based back with my family in Surrey, England for the past four weeks, this visit was meant to extend to January, possibly forever.
So … I left New Zealand a month ago burnt out physically and mentally. High hopes that I arrived into Queenstown with had been dashed in one way or another. I flew there from Sydney in April for an interview with global bungy jumping pioneers, AJ Hackett. The job was a Senior Marketing role and one that would have most certainly changed my life should I have been successful.
But it was not meant to be – I found myself in a position that I had been in before, in early 2013. Back then I had an interview to work on the online team at leading fashion house Jimmy Choo, it went nowhere but that didn’t bother me too much as I kind of felt I wasn’t right for the job.
However another opportunity at the same time knocked me for six … I was down to the final two out of over 200 applicants for a Marketing role working for the world famous MTV on their hit reality TV shows, Geordie Shore and The Valleys.
Even though I already worked at LOOK magazine at the time, the UK’s biggest selling fashion weekly magazine, I felt this was the big break I was looking for.
MTV’s head office in London would have become my second home, I was poised to dedicate my life to that job. After three rounds of excruciating interviews it didn’t come off. When the bubble burst it was a big push for me leave London the first time – I didn’t see myself going full force looking for something new again … MTV had dragged on for over four months and I felt deflated, my fire had gone out.
I took another job but when I signed the paperwork I had already bought my ticket to leave the UK as soon as the contract ended. Essentially I had decided to stop chasing my ambition in the city and leave it all behind for a bit, for a while, I had no plans.
… So once again, now two years later in Queenstown, I had got so close but finally yet so far. As before, I was given great feedback but it didn’t gloss over the fact – I hadn’t got the job I had hoped for and I needed to find a new dream, fast.
I ended up on a three month trial period assisting to manage some holiday apartments in town. This line of work was something I had never done before and I was excited for a fresh challenge. Everything started well, it was good to be learning new things every day again. Towards the end of the trial I realised I couldn’t realistically see myself in the role long term and decided not to sign the contract to stay on until April 2016 (as originally planned).
Queenstown had been a lot of fun since I arrived but in some ways I felt like it was closing in on me – I didn’t want another job in a different place in town. I just couldn’t see myself working anywhere else either. Which now, looking back seems like quite an odd feeling to have felt but I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. Did I want to work in shop or maybe waitress just to keep afloat? No, was the short answer.
After a crazy year in Australia, a couple of months in Brazil for the FIFA World Cup and a holiday I’ll never forget in Bali thrown in for good measure I thought that life in Queenstown would take a back seat. Being a such little place I imagined it would be somewhere I would calm down a bit and work for a while, saving money for an onward trip as I went. Well! Not the case at all! If anything, the bonkers times stepped up a gear. Accompanied by brilliant new friends we spent a lot of time turning nights into mornings that became ”struggle city” days at work.
As with some I have seen head home from the road before me; I was burning out fast during those last weeks. Firstly I decided I wanted to leave Queenstown but to stay in New Zealand and move to Wellington. I had spent a night there to celebrate my 30th birthday and instantly loved the city ”I can see myself living here”. After making plans with a helpful friend to take his room when he moved on, a new stone was set – Wellington would be my next stop.
So, it was decided then! Queenstown was no longer for me, I made a song and dance about it as I always, excitedly proclaiming Wellington was where I wanted to be and it was ”definitely happening”.
A string of heavy nights and a frantic end to my job later, doubts crept into my head – did I really want to ”start again, again” in a new city where I knew no one?. Although I visited home for two weeks in April, I had essentially been away for 21 months by this point and the idea of ”spending a good bit of time at home” started to look a brighter option.
I have a habit of making decisions based on how I feel on a given day. At any moment I could change my mind again. I spoke to my family on the phone the day I was questioning everything and decided that was that; ”I’m coming home”. Knowing my previous form since leaving home and already paying for (and canceling a flight in November last year) Mum asked me not to make promises ”unless I really meant it”. I had a made a firm decision by this point and sent my booked flight details through by text. This was actually happening. My life as a traveller may well be over.
As soon as I decided to leave Queenstown everything became better than it had been recently. I had more fun with everyone, saw new places, laughed harder and lived for the moment as much as I could. It was a heavy final week, with a lot of time spent in the best bars in town.
We hired a car and did some epic day trips to Glenorchy, Wanaka and beyond. Driving around the breath taking countryside knowing I was leaving made me appreciate where I was and what I was doing even more.
On the other hand I had already left in my head and this made the goodbyes sad and confusing in a way. Did I really want to leave behind people who I had loved spending time with so much?
The last night in Queenstown was one of the best of my entire travels so far. Everything just came together for that final hoorah. So good I nearly missed my flight back to the UK! Waking up next to my friend on our sofa, fully clothed with 40 minutes until my plane was due to fly was a shock to say the least! Luckily we’d already packed the day before and another friend saved the day, getting me to the airport with minutes to spare. As one pal said to me afterwards ”leave how you live”, yes, indeed, no problem there – I left Queenstown in a haze of laughter and chaos.
Landing in to London on Thursday 24th September I was calm and remember saying to my Nan ”it’s no worries this time Nan, no panic, I’m home for a while”. I was due to start a job in the City on the Monday (best way to get over jet lag!). In my head I would be working and home until ”after Christmas, then I’ll see how I feel”. I wasn’t sure if I would be going away again and wanted to test the water at home first, see how I felt. No pressure.
The job in the city was fab, I loved it. Working for a PR company that ran amazing events in London was everything I had missed about work while being on the road. Fast paced, no time to check the clock and a lot of fun. The team only needed me for a few weeks in the end, not until the New Year as first thought. I made the most of it while I could and as soon as I knew it wouldn’t be continuing for longer I started to look for other jobs. Then I hit my first hurdle.
If I took another job that would be a minimum three month commitment. Sure I could temp in the city for a few weeks here and there but as we live in Surrey that’s a 4 hour commute five.days.a.week. Train for four hours. Work for eight hours. It didn’t sit well with me and my mind began to leave home again.
I looked at a few jobs and lined up some interviews but I knew I didn’t really want to go to them. The reality of having been away skipping from one place to the next for the past two years had hit home;
- Working in London is no easy feat. In many ways it’s a daily struggle. Tube lines crammed to within an inch of your life. Your face in someones armpit while you’re too close for comfort with all other parts of your body.
- The cost of travel, food, living as opposed to the hardly anything you can spend while working away, these comparisons ran through my head every day.
- Constantly checking your bag and pockets to make sure you haven’t been robbed. Something you never worry about in many places on the road.
- Wearing proper clothes and shoes. It sounds stupid but its true – I missed the simplicity of wearing trainers and a hoodie.
- The city itself, when you leave it for a while and come back it feels 10 x busier. I felt like my head was caving in some days.
- If you can raise a smile from a passer you’re a miracle worker – its nigh on impossible. I yearned for the friendliness I had left behind on my travels.
The little things that I used to love about London all of a sudden came to a head and I realised ”I don’t want to be here right now”. While working for the few weeks I buzzed ”it’s so good to be back, I love it”. One minute I couldn’t get enough then when the job front changed I had a moment to step back and realise ”hold up … is this where I should be?”
My immediate first thought was to return to Queenstown. I had left people behind that I missed a lot more than I cared to let on – I’ve been living in two time zones to keep in touch since I got back. I knew I would be helped to sort out a place to live and when it came down to it, yep, sure I could easily get another job there. Maybe the jobs I didn’t think were right for me before would actually be good for me? The fact that I still have a working visa for New Zealand that’s valid until April 2016 was very much on my mind too. Again I weighed up everything.
But it didn’t feel right to go immediately back on myself, as much as a big part of me could easily be back there right now, I left for a reason and couldn’t deny that. Also, the thought of the 40 hour flight back and the vast amount of money it would cost just to get there made me feel a bit sick at the thought. I needed to really think about my next step, not make a decision over a whatsapp message. To actually think.
Then came the game changer. One of my best friends is in Thailand at the moment, he ”moved home” briefly in September … Then his plans changed and he decided to go away again. At the time I had only just landed back myself and was in the throes of loving my home comforts. Although I understood why he was going it also felt like he was off again too quickly.
But that was my mindset until the cracks started to form in my own grand plans for home, then suddenly – Yes, I’m on his level! – I admitted to myself that I definitely wanted to be away again. I speak to him every day and he suggested those golden words that, yep sure, they changed my life ”come to Thailand”.
So … the ball got rolling and within 24 hours it was decided. I was going to meet him in Thailand. As soon as I got over the hysterics of considering going to Thailand again (I had already spent 2 1/2 months there at the start of my travels in January – March 2014), it began to become a sunkissed reality. The more I thought about it the more I knew it was happening. The more I knew I was doing the right thing for me. Within 48 hours it was a dead cert. I started to properly accept that I was going back to South East Asia and began to tell my family and friends.
It’s been a mixed bag of reactions from those close to me;
- ”Why?” Why not?
- ”What? Again? Your life is a holiday!” … I just have to laugh at this one
- ”I thought you were staying home until after Christmas?” If I stay longer I’ll have to get a job, I would rather cram as much family/ friends time as possible before I go
- ”I thought you were back in London for good?” I thought I may be too, but I changed my mind
- ”How long are you going for this time?” I can’t answer that
- ”What if you feel the same again when you’re away?” I won’t, I needed to spend time at home to recharge and fully appreciate that I needed to be away for longer
- ”Won’t you miss your family and friends here?” Definitely. I’ll miss everyone a lot but everyone is so happy and healthy; it’s still a good time to be on the road
These have been the most common questions. However those who have travelled/ are still away themselves have 1) predicted it before I even left Queenstown ”you’ll be off again within 2 weeks” 2) applauded it ”go for it, enjoy it while you can” 3) already made plans to meet me in Thailand ”see you in the sun!”
Going forward this time I know it’s another chance to have the ”trip of a lifetime”. But this time will be different – I’ll be looking at everything like it is sprinkled in unicorn dust as I know I almost let it slip away in favour of settling at home. The truth is, I’m just not ready to settle. Most my age (30) are settled, house sorted, partner found, possibly with family already and I think that is amazing for them, I am so proud of all my happy friends. But for those that know me they know that’s just not me, it’s not where I am, not yet.
I’ve written this post to cover why I’m off again as one minute I’m posting about Wellington being the ”next big thing”, then I’m home and ”loving London the city I missed” then out of the blue I’ve ”booked a flight to Thailand” …
The thing is I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love to write and have always been a social media fiend so if somethings happening I’m going to cover it as it plays out, for better or worse I’ve more than likely posted it somewhere!
I didn’t want my blog to jump from one place to another plan to a fresh idea without addressing the fact that I have indeed changed my mind yet again. I fly to Thailand on Wednesday 11th November, and will be heading straight to Koh Phi Phi. Having loved Thailand so much the first time around it’s all the more exciting in some ways, last time I didn’t have a clue what lay before me, I had never travelled before.
This time, nearly 2 years since leaving home I’ll be back on familiar ground but with a whole new mindset. One things for sure, there will be a story or ten to come! Whatever happens I’ll be doing my best to appreciate each day for what it is.
Essentially I’m ‘running away’ from the norm again. I’m set on chasing the sun, the laughs, the people, the ups, the downs … the experiences of the unknown. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last.
I plan to write often when I’m away this time – one plan I will be sticking to! So as this next adventure begins I hope to inspire others to go for what they really want in life. Look for the fun in everything you do! If the curiosity is in you to travel you’ve got to go for it while you can!
”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently”