I did something scary
I was on reddit, trying to get some blogging tips, and I submitted this blog to a feedback thread (yeah, I know, I was bracing myself). And I was told, loud and clear: you don’t have a “voice”. Well, shit, okay. The message was: people will go to Lonely Planet, or TripAdvisor, or wherever, when they want random lists of things to do. Not some two-bit blogger who thinks she knows everything because she is (was?) a travel agent. If people are actually going to give two hoots and read any of your posts, you have to have a message and we actually have to know who you are.
Ouch. But… TRUE.
I can be a bit over-sensitive sometimes (look! Fact one!) so I felt a bit unravelled by this blunt feedback. But I knew it was true. I could see it, plain as day. If I want to connect with you, I have to let you in, and let you get to know me. So here it is, my whole entire story, laid bare on this post. Well… I’m not about to sell you my soul or anything. I’ll try to stay relevant to what this whole blog is actually about. But I hope by the end you’ll see something that resonates with you (and if you do – comment below! Let’s be friends).
A little old lady in a Millenial’s body.
So I’ve always been a bookworm (or a “nerd” if you’re a friend of mine). I’ve always been a left-wing social justice warrior, and at school, I was a bit of a pain in the arse. Not in a “have another detention” kind of way, but in a “look at meeeee I know everything and I’m so clever” kind of way. I was the kid during a Social Studies quiz who, when asked to name a country starting with ‘U’, would name Uzbekistan rather than USA, just because. So, to my former schoolmates: I’m very, very sorry.
I’ve also always been an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ kind of gal and the person in the group most likely to try and give you life advice. Sometimes I think I’m so wise. So again: sorry. The older I actually get, the more I realise I really know nothing.
In 2010, I met the love of my life (yeah I know, everyone says that about their partner, but it’s true). He is an old man in a young person’s body too. So together we’re two grumpy old wowsers tut-tutting our way through life, and it’s kind of magnificent. It’s led to some pretty funny stories, particularly abroad, but we’ve had some crazy adventures when we’ve let ourselves be not-so-serious for a second, too.
So… the travel thing? Back to that.
I was at uni in 2010 studying Geology of all things. My head was all over the place; I’d run away to Europe – twice! – only to chicken out and come back. All I wanted to do was travel but I was stuck on this shitty hamster wheel of bills and uni. I was overloading courses and generally struggling, and working three jobs to boot. Then I got a new boyfriend. You know how it is in those first few months… you just want to spend every waking minute with them and you physically ache when they’re not there. I was becoming more and more disillusioned with uni and one day, I stopped by my local Big Name Travel Agency to pick up some brochures. “You’d make an excellent agent,” said the chick I was chatting with. And that was the end of uni.
The first few months were super hard – the initial training is so intense and my brain was just fried. I was also moving into a new sharehouse and the boyfriend was setting off on a South American adventure without me for a few months (jerk), but I made it through.
It was a rough gig, honestly. I was in this tiny, sloooow store that didn’t make any money, no matter how hard we tried. But after grinding away for 12 months I was promoted, and I was lucky enough to attend some bloody excellent overseas conferences and familiarisation trips (Fiji, Jakarta, South Africa, Dubai… awesome!) But I realised I wasn’t going to become the person I wanted to be while I worked there. So I jumped ship to a tour company that was about to enter this mega-insane growth phase. I never looked back.
But… then what happened?
Well… I got married! In Fiji no less. We came back from our Mauritius/Madagascar honeymoon with a disgusting intestinal parasite pretty much regretting the whole thing. We were devastated – we felt like we’d been robbed of that special honeymoon experience. But we soldiered on, went back to work, bought a house, I headed off to Vietnam and Cambodia, and then we got some pretty exciting news… baby!
Things change when a baby enters the picture though. We all like to pretend it doesn’t; in fact, husband and I had actually promised each other it wouldn’t. But that’s an impossible promise to keep. Becoming a parent is the most surreal and life-changing experience – how could a person possibly stay the same?!
Yeah, babies change EV-E-R-Y-THING
They do. But, in the most unexpected ways. I was a few months into my maternity leave when I realised my brain was turning to absolute mush, and for a thinker like me, that’s not cool. So I enrolled myself in a Diploma of Management thinking that, when I went back to work, it might come in handy if I wanted to wrangle a promotion or work on a project or something. But it actually reaffirmed my love of learning, and made me realise if I wanted to go back to studying, it wasn’t impossible.
I looked down at this baby boy I was nurturing and thought, what would I want him to know about the world? And what would I want him to learn from me? The answer was, to me, blindingly simple: I want him to learn what hard work looks like, and I want him to learn what following your dreams looks like. And I want him to know, more than anything, that the second thing (the dreams) requires a helluva lot of the first thing (the work).
So now I’m back at uni, chasing my dream of being a Psychologist in the perinatal and fertility space. And yes, that’s my big, crazy, life dream. That’s it. I don’t want to be a pop star or a billion-dollar-blogger or whatever. I want to help other women and men be the best parents they can be. That. Is. My. Dream.
“I’m not a digital nomad!”
You’ll see me proclaim that a lot. I feel like most of the travel blogs I see these days are kids who’ve dropped everything to live this life-on-the-road, and that’s not me, and it never will be. Of course, I admire their spirit, but I like the rat race. I like the challenge of life. I like owning my own home, and living in a community, and going to PTA meetings or whatever. I’m a little old lady. I’m not meant for a nomadic life without roots.
But the fact remains, even though working in travel isn’t my dream, that travel itself is a HUGE passion of mine – hence this blog. And I’d forgotten that dreams and passions are sometimes very different. Plus I figure, if I’m going to push my kids (there’s two now!) to chase their dreams, I better have put my money where my mouth is. I better have given them every single opportunity I could to work out what their dream is. And what does that plan include? A butt-load of travel!
Okay, you made it this far… so tell me your story in the comments below! I promise you don’t have to use as many words.