I know there are people out there who are all too happy to hop from place to place, to buy an open ticket or to board a train and see where the winds of adventure blow them next, but if I’m being honest, I just wasn’t one of them. Growing up, I was the type of person who would have been quite happy for the winds of adventure to blow me right back under my duvet. I’ve always been a homebody. Even now, the idea of a road trip to Cornwall, a weekend break in the next county, or a flight to Ohio to visit my family can leave me with overwhelming feelings of trepidation. The planning, the packing, the laundry upon return, the what-ifs all leave me with a sense of foreboding rather than fun. Right now the guys heading up Easyjet’s Inspiration Initiative are certainly scratching their frequent flyer heads and wondering how this blogger could ever inspire others to travel.
I grew up in Southwest Ohio. I went to university in Southwest Ohio. Both sets of my grandparents and nine out of 10 of my aunts and uncles and my 30 plus cousins lived – you guessed it – in Southwest Ohio. And at 17, after deciding on a degree that was more of a practical decision than a passionate dream, I just knew I was destined to end up a teacher in…..Southwest Ohio. I entered my final years of university and the pieces of that pre-determined life map began to come together just as I always thought they would.
I spent my summers interning in a local government job where my sole responsibility was to help them transition from paper files to electronic ones. One-by-one, for over eight hours a day, I would scan each document into the system . Eight hours. It was a job that felt more like a community service order than gainful employment . But while I scanned, I built relationships. I was afforded the privilege of taking part in the lives of those around me while I got to share my youthful excitement for what the future held – except I was pretty certain of what it would hold.
One day, one of the women who sat nearby, walked over. As she wrung her hands, I looked at her desperate, watery eyes and softly asked, “What’s wrong?” Her eyes flitted back and forth, and the words tumbled out of her mouth in a cascade of frustration and weariness.
“I am so tired of the same old thing. I get up and drive the same way to work, to do the same old job and then I do the same drive home to have the same boring meal. Nothing about my life is ever different. Nothing is ever a surprise.”
I gently suggested that she try a new meal or a new drive home. That maybe she should even look at a new job. She stared blankly at the wall and doubted that this would be enough. Life just wasn’t what she wanted it to be.
It is funny how sometimes people can inspire you by clearly demonstrating what you don’t want.
All throughout my final year of university, even when the opportunity to apply for an internship in England arose, I resisted straying from the plan. It was the plan, after-all. But in my head rang those frustrated words, “Nothing about my life is ever different.” I loved the familiar, I loved my comforts, I loved home, but would I reach my 50’s only to look back and be disappointed that I didn’t stretch myself to try something different so that I might experience more of what the world had to offer?
At 22 years old, having never left my country, I got my passport and moved to England. Eight years later and here I am. I have spent a Christmas in Switzerland, bathing in a hot-spring in the middle of the Alps, I have been to the top of a wind-whipped Eiffel Tower, I taught myself the Cyrillic alphabet and spent a month teaching Russian university students English, I have wiggled my toes in the sand on the Costa del Sol and have been told off by a German barmaid. I have swum in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and have spotted sea tortoises off of the North Shore of Hawaii. I have climbed the untouched hills of the Cornish coast time and time again.
I have met my match in my British husband and had my heart filled the moment I laid my eyes on my daughter in that English hospital room.
I don’t know what my life would have become had I not decided to do something different. I don’t know that, like my co-worker, I would have been dissatisfied or regretful, but I now know what I would have missed. Travelling can be hard work, it can be scary, it can feel overwhelming. It can also unlock parts of yourself you didn’t know needed unlocking – parts that you thought were immovable pieces of who you were, until the world showed you they were actually movable parts simply defined by where you were from. Being an expat certainly was never in my fail-safe plan. It has ripped at the very fabric of everything I thought my life would be and it has stitched my life into something unexpected and better.
What inspires you?
Vix from Vegemitevix tagged me to participate in Easyjet’s Inspiration Intiative to get out there and see the world and I now get to select 5 bloggers who I think might be able to inspire you with their own take on travelling.
- Sandyat Sandy’s Views
- Expat Mammy at Expat Baby Adventures
- Suzanne at Pieces of Suz
- MsXpat at Tiger Tales