I’ve become a little preachy, I think. I noticed it yesterday when we caught up with a group of friends from the UK. They’re presently travelling around Australia and we got to talking about returning home. None of them want to. Can’t say I blame them because I totally know the feeling.
We discussed how there’s an expectation to return home at a certain age, or after a period abroad (6 months, 8 months, a year, maybe two). In a lot of ways, many travellers who find their niche or tribe in another part of the world live with a version of guilt that accompanies the fact that you’re not “at home”.
My friends are young with their whole lives ahead of them, so I encouraged them to keep going. If they’re living in the flow, gaining life experience and generally happier than they’ve ever been, why quit? Seriously, why?
Work options will always be there, as will your true friends and loving family. So, why? Because you’re “supposed to” go home, where everything is the same, except you? And what is “home”? The thing I notice a lot of people forget is that “home” is not where other people (family, friends) insist it is, nor is it necessarily where you were born.
I do believe home is where the heart is, and just as your heart can belong to another person, it can also indeed belong to a place for a bounty of reasons. A mere one of those reasons is because of travel experiences. Sometimes you just belong. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me and my lunch-mates yesterday agreed they feel the same.
A comment was made about how travel is so great, so fun – an endless adventure. “It’s cool because it’s not really the real world”.
Oh, but I disagree. For people living by choice on the road or abroad as an expat somewhere, this life – this endless adventure – IS the real world. Furthermore, this “real world” is made all the more achievable these days thanks to modern technology (and your good fortune if you have the right to work in a foreign country, of course). I circulate in a realm where I liaise with people all day every day – all ages and relationship statuses – who are successfully living and working wherever they like (digital nomads and gypsetters, as long as there is a WiFi connection) – they reside in the place (or sometimes places) they feel is home. Why? Because we can now!
For some, travel and being abroad entirely changes their life for the better. Sadly, a few think they need to give this up to fulfil an expectation that they “rejoin the real world” or get back to doing what they’re “meant” to be doing at 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50… It’s important to remember that what is the “real world” for some, isn’t the reality for others, and it needn’t be either (and this goes for whether we’re talking about travelling, living as an expat or anything at all).
I was inspired to the point of a little tear recently, when I read this piece by Laura Fortey, Learning to settle for more, on InSearchofaLifeLessOrdinary.com. Aside from appreciating why she loved living in Vancouver so much (it, along with London, is a place that really, truly has always felt like home to me), I was moved by her honesty regarding what happened to her when she returned to the place she thought she was “meant” to be, where old friends and family resided. She discusses her emotional dilemma, being that she thought she was doing what she was supposed to by societal standards, but the whole time it just felt wrong. She was meant to be elsewhere. It’s not an ego thing or a fantasy, because believe it or not, some people are meant to be elsewhere. Eventually Laura realised she was settling, and she took a leap of faith and followed her heart to the UK where she finally resolved that it is ok to “settle up”, that is, doing what she knew was right for her.
Laura’s story resonates with me, and I’m passionate about sharing the message that people should not settle.
Settle up, it’s ok! Do what’s in your heart, not what you’re apparently obliged to do. I love meeting happy, inspired people who are in the flow of life, whatever they’re doing with it – travelling, raising kids, creating cool things, managing businesses, helping people, volunteering, practising Yoga under a tree all day… It saddens me to meet others though, with so much potential who have either not been told, or haven’t learned, that to do things in order to make others happy or to meet external expectations associated with what you should be doing at a certain time or age is a recipe for unhappiness. No, it’s not always smooth sailing; there are barriers, challenges, hurt, suffering and lessons. Take them on, as long as they’re yours.
Never consider that something you’re passionate about isn’t the ‘real world’ and isn’t achievable. Just do it – surround yourself with the things you love and enjoy doing; teach yourself about these things – be engaged, informed and inspired.
That’s what our TLL team wishes to pass on.
Have a great week; feel free to comment, and sign up for our mailing list while you’re here too – we’re sending out lots of great content and freebies to VIPs on the list, but you won’t know about it unless you sign up (over on the right). Sarah x
PS Don’t you love our feature pic, shot by my dad? It’s my beautiful mum – she made friends in South America on wild and wonderful expat/backpacker adventures in the ’70s! #inspired