The realities of making a life-changing decision..
On this day 8 years ago I’d just moved out of my house, I’d sold every possession I owned. Little did I know this was the first step towards freedom. Whether we like to admit it or not, our possessions often keep us trapped. The fear of having nothing or the possibility of ‘starting over’ is a daunting thing to ponder. When I made the decision to quit a stable job and sell everything in order to travel I underestimated how difficult the process would be. Seeing a car I loved turn into a shell destined for the scrapheap and the contents of my house disappear hit me hard. I was too determined to admit it, but I was scared, real scared.
I didn’t know what the future would hold, the “what ifs” swirled around inside my head like a cyclone of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure that Jaiden would cope living out of a 14ft, 30 year old tin can, being removed from all of the comforts and routines that were so deeply ingrained. I underestimated how much I would change as a person, and how this would see many of my friendships deteriorate as my morals and values shifted. In the early days, I faced the possibility of coming back with my tail between my legs, and having to admit that people were right, I was insane to try and travel as a single parent with a 3 year old child on the Autism Spectrum.
Despite all of the above, I had a gut feeling I was taking a step in the right direction. I never knew that my 1 year trip with Jaiden would see us living the life we are today, 8 years on. I certainly never thought I’d be sharing my life publicly in the hope of helping and inspiring others. I took a chance and it paid off, ultimately leading me to a new life, one not driven by money or possessions, but one driven by connection, gratitude, and helping others. This is not the life I’d planned, nor one I ever imagined, but making the decision to try something new opened up new doors, brought new people into my life, and this ultimately sent me on a journey of exploration and learning, through this I found the things that truly made me happy.
We live in a world where we’re bombarded with advertising, the next new ‘thing’ promising to make us happier, or to change our lives for the better. I’ve realised that happiness from possessions only lasts for so long, before we need to get the next new ‘thing’. It’s like a game where the goalposts keep moving meaning you can never actually win. The fear of walking off the playing field altogether scares us into inaction, so our dreams remain just that, dreams. “I wish I could do that” or “You’re so lucky” are two comments I hear regularly. There’s no wishing or luck involved, it was hard work, sacrifice, and stepping outside of societal norms in order to follow my gut feeling. There were, and still are, hard times, lonely times, and times of uncertainty. Nothing is perfect, but if we never take steps to pursue the life we want, nothing will ever change.
As I stood here with Jaiden looking out into the distance I reminisced on how many mountains we’d climbed together, literally and figuratively. Making the decision to pursue a different life was without a doubt one of the hardest things I have ever done, but also the most rewarding. I’ve met some amazing people and had unforgettable experiences. But most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the things that truly make me happy. Society led me to believe that a good career and nice ‘things’ would result in me being happy, it was not the case for me. This experience taught me that happiness and fulfilment often isn’t something we buy, rather it’s the lessons we learn on our journey through life, it’s overcoming tough times, trying different things, finding new passions, skills and stepping outside of our own comfort zone.
What ultimately makes us feel happy and fulfilled will be different for every person, but without actively taking steps towards a goal, and making the hard decision to take a risk, we never go anywhere. At the end of the day, often it’s the fear of the unknown holding us back. Our negative association with failure prevents action, but each and every failure teaches us a lesson and leads us one step closer to living the life we’ve always wanted.
We’ve only got one shot at life, and we never know how long it will last. The only thing worse than failure, is regretting never trying.