It’s officially been six months since I boarded the plane in Chicago’s O’hare Airport to Melbourne, Australia. A mixture of disbelief (that it’s gone so fast) and restlessness (where to next) rush about when I take a second to really let that sink in. As much courage as it initially took to make my journey out here I knew deep down that I would be gone at least this long—even if I refused to say out loud to anyone for certain that I’d be away from home for the year long extent of my work and holiday visa.
Throughout the past six months I’ve gone through my fair share of ups and downs; being filled with immense joy, feeling like I have the world in the palm of my hands to the doubt and uncertainty that inevitably hits when you’re so far away from a place you’ve called home for 24 years.
Change has run its course through the “original plan” to live and work in Melbourne and I’ve somehow ended up in Sydney. Although that’s one of my favorite parts of travel—seeing where it all takes you and how things actually play out. Really there’s only so much planning ahead you can do.
This point in my journey is not only a proud accomplishment but some sort of self validation that travel is going to continue to play a leading role in my life for a long while. Without little more than a hope to capture my current feelings, a few of the lessons I’ve learned, and a small glimpse at what I see for myself in the near future here is some of what has been on my mind thus far.
Wherever you go, there you are.
This saying never really resonated with me until recently. Living and working in a new country, full of new and foreign faces has brought on so many interesting challenges; yet when it comes down to it I’m living only slightly different than I was before.
I never meant for my move to Australia to be an escape from anything in Wisconsin, nor did I assume I would transform into someone new overnight, but I’ve been able to see more clearly how a change of location doesn’t magically change a person. Of course there’s a lot of adapting to be done when entering new surroundings, i.e.: finding a place to live, finding a job, making friends, creating some sort of social life. But at the end of the day, through my constant rising and falling feelings on it all, I am still me.
There are times when I’m so sure I’m right where I need to be and other times I can’t think of an escape plan from this city fast enough. I learned quickly that if I chose to be unhappy by a circumstance that only I could change that around. Not something I was unaware of per say, just a fact that becomes a bit more blatant when you’re far away from familiar.
I tried for a while ignoring the fact that some of my bad habits or negative feelings still existed even though I was somewhere new but it was only a matter of time before I came to terms with accepting that a change of scenery isn’t enough to wipe the slate totally clean. It can inspire and motivate you to change but it isn’t instantaneous.
It’s also been a strange yet gratifying feeling having my conscious self know that this is all playing an important part in whats yet to come on my journey towards greater independence. At first I was a little unsure about the uncomfortable feelings that were stirring inside without all my “usual options” available but as the months have gone by I’ve gotten progressively more creative with being there for myself. No one wants to hang out? I’ll go grab a glass of wine or lunch alone. Having a bad day? I’ll go for a run or walk by the ocean which is a sure way to remind myself how trivial my worries really are. And when all else fails there’s always journaling, which in my opinion, is a less crazy form of talking it out with yourself.
Learning To Slow Down And Find Balance
This has been a tough one. I go through periods where my restless mind is viciously pushing to move on and I get a feeling similar to what I think a caged animal might feel like. Even though I know constantly changing cities, sleeping in hostels way too often, and a little too much uncertainty for too long wears me out emotionally and physically, I can’t help but want to do all of the above from time to time.
Patience is a virtue in this case. Patience is also not something I have too much of. Which is why I’m choosing to use these moments as a lesson in slowing my mind down a little.
It might just be the beach life culture rubbing off on me a bit but it’s started to finally become so much clearer that I operate on a happier and higher functioning level when I consciously make room for balance. Easier said than done of course especially since I’m a very black or white person.
Sydney, or at least Bondi, seemingly has it figured out though. An observation made from working in a cafe is that it seems everyone has time to stop in and grab their favorite espresso laden drink while reading the paper or chat with a friend. There are always people being active outside and just a general vibe of positivity. No one seems to be tied to their desk at all hours of the day or away from family and friends for too long. And if they are they make up for it on the weekends. All something I’m taking note on as I slowly craft together my ideal lifestyle.
Travel Remains On The Horizon
Looking back on things its almost funny to think I was so unsure about coming to Australia. No doubt it was a huge commitment to make but deep down I already knew making the trek would only unleash a deeper level of passion for travel—and exactly that has happened.
Hitting this half way point has spurred so many “where to next?” thoughts. I’ve fought back and forth with myself for thinking this way though. It certainly can’t be “living in the moment”, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself it’s that the more I try to fight off thinking about something the more it nags at me.
So while I haven’t mapped out any plans yet I’m opening myself to all the possibilities the universe has to offer me. Will I be teaching English in Southeast Asia? Making my way through Eastern Europe? I can’t say for sure but knowing that I can literally (well, for the most part) go anywhere I want to on this beautiful planet is one of the most awe inspiring feelings.
As my passion for travel has grown so has my appreciation for my family, friends, and city back in Wisconsin. The simplicity and goodhearted nature of the Midwest is undoubtedly missed. Nonetheless, since leaving I now question when and where I’ll have that “at home” feeling in my heart again.
I’ve reached an in-between point between realizing Sydney is not the city I see myself settling in, and even though whenever I do return to Milwaukee it will be seen with a new perspective, I can’t picture myself settling there either.
And so the wanderlust continues. I suppose there are far worse infectious things to be affected by.