Kim’s note: As I sit here impatiently waiting for this baby to arrive (she’s due in five days, no sign yet) I’m happy to introduce you to Victoria over at Bridges and Balloons, one of my favorite blogs about life, love and travel. Just like Brian and I, Victoria and her new husband Steve have recently returned home. I asked her for her perspective on three years of travel and what comes next.
Three years ago, I sat in this house, plane tickets in hand, dreaming about what came next. My mind was filled with mountains, jungles, and the sounds of foreign words. I craved adventure, difference and discovery. I wanted to swim in the lessons of travel and come out clearer on the other side. I was searching for my truth.
Victoria in her London house getting ready for her adventure.
Up until that point, life had been linear. Schools, exams, gap year, university, internships, grad school, a graduate scheme, and eventually a job I’d always dreamed of. My eye was always on the “what next?” and the path was nicely trodden. All I had to do was work hard. But then “destination career” turned out not to be the life I longed for, and there was no road map for what came next. It was time to freestyle and find my own path.
Travel was my answer. My boyfriend and I packed up our home and flew one-way to Rio. Steve had a job he could do on the road, making films and building a start-up. My plan was to take some time, and allow my path to unfold. I wanted to relax, mull and unwind then get going on whatever felt right. I imagined that time would bring answers – that there was a truth or passion to be found along the way. I just had to allow the answers to surface.
Three years passed along paths wide and varied. I wasn’t suited to aimless days and found projects to take my time. A hobby blog became a full-time pursuit; I started work on a few different businesses; I taught yoga; nearly bought some land and built a retreat; dabbled in building websites; drove myself mad by experimenting with different therapies; and continually asked: “Is this it?” I toyed with different ideas and at times each one seemed right, but doubts would always surface. Choice, although a luxury, can also be debilitating.
Victoria exploring in Argentina
Eventually one thing was clear. Both Steve and I wanted a base – somewhere to return to and call home. Wanderlust lives in us, but (as Kim said quite recently) like birds we needed a nest. We circled around possibilities – from Mexico to Bali to Berlin until finally London called us back. It’s where our friends and family are, and, for us, that makes a home.
So that’s where I am right now – sitting in Peckham in the exact house I left three years ago. And I’m still dreaming about what comes next. In the time I’ve been away, friends have become established in their careers. They’ve progressed in a way our society values. To many I may seem like a drifter. I barely make enough money to get by, I “gallivant” from place to place, and I dither around different careers. I’m not what you’d call “sorted”.
On bad days this feels like failure. On good days it feels brave. The past few years have been rich with experience and lessons. I’ve seen the jungles and mountains I dreamed of, and made new friends from lands afar. I’m learning the patterns that trip me up and the qualities I can leave behind. Slowly, I’m finding my way. And while this journey is convoluted, for me it’s better than “making do”.
I don’t have neat little answers. I haven’t yet uncovered my passion, “found myself”, or discovered the keys to all that makes me happy. Perhaps it’s a symptom of the old adage: “The more you know, the less you understand”. But one thing is for sure. If I could speak to that girl sitting on the sofa three years ago, and she asked me “Should I go?”. My answer would be to smile and say yes. While she may not find all her answers as quickly as she might like, it’ll be a step without regret. There will be ups and there will downs, moments of clarity, disillusionment, joy, sadness and doubt. But the exploration will be worth every moment.
As someone smart once said: “The journey is the destination.”