“To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation and when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Most people take steps in life, especially when it comes to moving out. We move across streets, cities and states. We move the infants, the youth, the adults and the elderly. We move with our kids, our partners and our best friends. And then there is that foolish percentage of people who decide to run and move overseas alone at 20 years old. That’s me! I’m the foolish one.
I remember telling this guy I liked once, about 4 years ago, that one day I would move to London for 2 years to travel, create and work. He told me “in your dreams kid” and then proceeded to educate me on the concept of reality. I remember telling my high school English teacher that in the future I wanted to pursue a career in writing and possibly self-publish my own title. She replied by handing me back my C- story and telling me to “probably dream for another career option”.
And so I did. I dreamt god damn hard; it was the one thing I knew how to do really well. I wrote stories on my iPhone Notes in the bathrooms of high school parties. I scribbled my ambitions and goals on cafe napkins and my thoughts on petrol receipts. When I didn’t get distinctions in university, I would dispute my grades and badger my teachers about how I could better my work for next time.
When I finally graduated and felt that literary and communications degree in my hand, I knew I had a real shot at making this dream a reality. I also knew that what I had really just done was put a major rude finger up to the stupid boy and the small-minded English teacher that both told me no.
In less than one month, I will be packing my socks, passport, fresh peppermint toothpaste and my whole life into 46KG – tagged to Heathrow, London. After much paperwork, tears and stress, I have been approved a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa which will allow me to work and live in the United Kingdom for 2 years maximum. Before you ask, no I do not have a job, no I do not know where I’m going to live, and no, I most definitely do not know what the hell I am doing. Try not to freak out too much; that’s my job.
It seems a little peculiar, but I don’t have one specific profound moment where I knew I was going to move – I’ve kind of had a hundred little moments instead. They came in the form of little epiphanies when I was travelling on the bus, or deep realisations when I would buy my groceries in the supermarket store. Seems odd, but I’ve also always liked the way the word expatriate sounded with my identity; the way it could become another word that I could associate and describe myself as.
I truly believe our greatest purpose and pleasure in life is to seek the world and all its finest people, culture, history and food. Why would I settle my life down now, when I could live out of a suitcase and give my heart to every fleeting friend and great big city? Although it sounds glamorous when I put it like that, don’t for a second think it was a easy decision to make.
I’m trading in my full-time Editor position for unemployment and no job prospects in London. I’m leaving my childhood home for a strangers Airbnb apartment for one month, until I then have to search on my own for a roof over my head. Of course, there is also the fact that my entire heart is already happily nestled into the comforting bodies of my family and friends who I so dearly love very much. It’s difficult to approach that latter subject. Maybe if I spend every last second hugging them extra tight, I will still feel the shape of them on my fingertips when I’m 10, 272 miles away. Dramatic, I know. To remind myself of how simple it needs to be, I must think of the words a wise best friend once told me, “It’s not a goodbye, it’s just a see you later”.
Plus, despite these sad occurrences, I know that this change in my life is completely worth it. I’ve never felt so sure about anything before as I do now. Of course I’m terrified of taking this huge blind dive into an unknown and foreign territory, but the sick travelling sadist in me is so pleasured by the fear too. Sometimes I have to hold my hand over my mouth because when I think of London, I grin like a hopeless dreamer and a fool in love.
Whether I fail or succeed, I can’t possibly tell you right now. The one thing I do know though, with every might and movement in my body, is that I have to at least try. Whether I only make it for one month, for six or for the full 2 years – I’m already extremely proud of myself.
I don’t want to jinx myself or create false hope, but somewhere inside my body, there is a tiny but very powerful voice that’s telling me this is going to be an extraordinary something. For a very long time, I’ve felt this powerful creative and independent woman banging on my chest. I think it’s about time I go on and let her out.