To Susan Knapp and all the great people who were meant to boost my life experience
An Irish friend of mine keeps asking me every time he talks to me how did I manage to visit so many countries. Same reaction when he read my travel blog for first time. His conclusion:”Oh, Tanya, you were so lucky for traveling the world“. To be honest, that’s not the first time I hear how lucky I am for having all those trips (more than 60 countries visited). Every time I hear it, I become a bit irritated. You can’t move forward without leaving your comfort zone behind. And that’s the lesson I learned in a hard way.
No, Ivan, there is no such a thing like luck, especially visiting different countries. It’s a spirit. You just need to be brave enough for not only dreaming where you would go, laying in bed at night or staring at stars. Don’t get me wrong, I such a dreamer too. Laying in my bed, sleepless, imagining different exotic places and seeing myself walking right there.
That was my teenage time, reading unbelievable stories for pirates, red indians or enormously rich sultans. All of them had an amazing, full of adventures life, described breathtakingly in the books I read. Sometimes I kept reading those stories till 3 am, hiding from my parents, using just a flashlight, because it was strongly prohibited to read at night (for not damaging my eyes). The forbidden things are usually so sweet. I promised myself I would never let my life get boring and won’t sacrifice it for an illusional comfort, just collecting material stuff.
You know the sentence:”Every journey starts with the first step“. Dreaming and imagining is actually the first step. If you were born adventurer, being whole day in the kitchen, making laundry, having one after another regular day or spending your time by watching TV, living someone else’s life instead of yours, will simply kill you, right?! I would like to share my travel journey. It doesn’t mean yours should be the same, but maybe you would recognise yourself in my story. Or at least my experience will give you a hint about your own way.
My favourite subject at school has always was the geography. I was 13 year old, but already knew most of the world capital cities. For my school-mates it was funny to test my knowledge, then verify the answer on the map. I was really good 🙂 Also I used to be the only volunteer for examination in the geography classes. After the festive days the teachers usually asked for volunteers. Most of the students excused themselves for not having enough time to learn the new lesson. Then the teacher started looking for a volunteering victim, to be questioned (standing in front of the black board). I was the regular one.
I was not smarter, just tricky. Knowing the symbols, relief, directions and topographic signs, it was kind of a pleasant game to just read the map, hanged over the black board, improvising on the newest lesson. It always worked out successfully, even with mediocre knowledge of the subject. Just a matter of good orientation and organisation, but also courage to make that step. I share all this above to explain my early geographic passion, that prepared me for what followed later on. It was developed and additionally boosted by my imagination.
My dearest Australian friend Susan, who I met in Qatar, sent me a photo message once. I was somehow down, not aware of what direction to take, at a real life crossroad. This actually rarely happens to me. Usually I have a plan and clear vision what’s next. That time I was in a “hole” and had the feeling like walking a blind alley. Then I received Susan’s whatsapp message, that literally changed my perspective. It was simply written:
MAGIC HAPPENS WHERE YOUR COMFORT ZONE ENDS.
Right! It was like a slap on my face. It suddenly shook off my lethargy and inertia. I was at a stage in my life where paid my mortgage off, also my son’s master degree in London, covered the credit cards debts and still had some money left, but was not able to stop complaining how boring my life is. I used to annoy everyone around with my discontentment how nothing new happens, every day is just like another, meeting same people, doing same things. I was stuck in my extremely secure and well organised life, having finally my own home, attached to the safety. Simply said, I was just sitting comfortably and was waiting someone else to make my life interesting and exciting. I was moody and dissatisfied daily. After I got my life sorted out, it finally did not seem as a dream life at all.
Then I remembered what I realised a year ago, when for the first time in my life I met plenty of rich people, but completely unhappy ones, having miserable life, always grumpy, vegetating, but not really living. Money doesn’t buy happiness. The spirit is what does. I somehow lost my spirit, my lovely craziness and hunger to explore. I have unnoticeably turned to a regular boring person, who locked themselves at home, spoiled by comfort and routine. I felt like a pretty young retiree, who lives temporarily their savings off, careless for a while, but very judgemental.
Susan, who used to live in Australia, Malaysia, Kenya, Qatar and Rwanda, opened my eyes, by simply “slapping” my face. She was my wake up call. I terribly needed to learn more, to talk to her in person and to find my spirit again. At that moment she was a principal of an International school in Rwanda, Africa. Seems like I was really in a hurry to meet her, because in a week I managed to: apply for Rwandan visa, to get Yellow fever vaccine done (can’t enter Rwanda without), to buy a plane ticket, to read about the country’s specific requirements, to jump on Turkish Airlines flight …and eventually found myself landing at Kigali Airport about midnight.
Every journey starts with the first step. It was my first step in getting my spirit back. That step was exciting, a bit scary, quickly taken, but I did not have time to give up. You can’t be prepared for what awaits for you after that step, especially in Rwanda. Sometimes no electricity, sometimes water stops, no Wi-Fi, completely different culture, unexpected manners, but it’s another world, that helps to shake the spoiling comfort off and to erase the temporary ignorance.
The following months, I ended up in Sri Lanka, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Dubai, Turkey, South Africa and the USA. This journey was meant to recall who I am and what I need for being happy. It did not go well all of the time. I made mistakes, I trusted wrong people, I lost money, I was at places which did not support my development at all, I got often confused. Now I am grateful for it was just a part of the game. To stumble and fall teaches you or shows you up where exactly you are at the life pat, should you switch it or not. All comes with the first step and you shouldn’t be afraid to take it.
A year ago I did not have any idea what’s next and what to do with my life. I gave up on my super successful career to simply follow my dreams and to finally find what I want from life. Also to discover why being successful and solvent makes me unhappy. Lots of people thought it’s just the mid age crisis I was going through. Could be so, but it doesn’t provide the way how to step out of it. I have always walked off the beaten track and have always enjoyed being different. It doesn’t mean you should do the same, but to challenge yourself is the answer.
I am no longer solvent. But I am over excited, because I finally know what exactly I want. I even get an idea how to achieve it, but it takes going out of my comfort zone again. I was blessed to start and develop my travel blog. I really enjoy writing and sharing my endless travel stories. I am also aware this project would never have happened, if I was the previous lazy, spoiled, comfy person.
Now I make new friends again, started learning Spanish (something what I have always wanted, but kept finding excuses not to), remembered the joy of walking instead of driving (you observe much more on foot), not afraid of being lost, because searching and finding is the way to explore. And all this above, because of Susan and my travels. They taught me, humbled me, opened my eyes, pushed me to the limit..
And finally ….I built a pretty new bucket list, which boosts my new plans and adventures. The previous one was already nine year old, no longer relevant. I am restless and full of energy. I know not all of you are on the same wave. But it’s easy to first imagine it, then crystallise it, figure it out and finally make a plan how to achieve it. Just don’t be afraid you are too old, too lazy, too heavy, too matured, too serious, too committed. It’s never too late. I am 46 and I dare to reboot my life, starting from the very beginning. You can do it as well. You can achieve whatever you want, even to travel the world, to visit a particular country or to complete a dream trip. It’s simple.
Just follow my easy TOP 10:
- Collect info about the desired destination,
- Check your available amount of money or take some time to collect more, if necessary
- Make a plan with timing and deadlines
- Book your flight and accommodation. If you don’t know how, ask me, I’ll be more than happy to advise
- Visit a friend, who lives abroad (in case you keep postponing it)
- The lack of time is not an excuse. Reorder your priorities. If you still feel unhappy and miserable, maybe you built the wrong priority list, so just reorder it.
- Don’t lie to yourself. Be honest and find what makes you excited and full of energy
- Build and complete your bucket list. It could be just a simple order of countries you dream to visit
- Don’t be afraid to get rid of the comfort and your daily routine
- Always remember, magic happens where comfort zone ends.