The alternative title I had for this post was A birthday and a breakdown, but I decided that sounded a little too depressing. Yet, as I sit here and try and think of how to put my feelings into words, I think it may be a more honest way of saying things. You see, last week I turned 32. And hit a wall.
It wasn’t a sudden crash. I have been moving towards this wall for some time now, but this week I finally felt myself pressed up against it with nowhere else to go. I had hoped that I would be able to swerve to one side and bypass the wall without incident, but alas, impact became inevitable.
If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have been working like a crazy person in order to realise my dream of travelling the world. I spent 9 months working 70 hours a week to pay off £15,000 ($24K USD) in debt.
When that had been cleared, I moved on to saving for travel, and decided to take on even more work in order to save £25,000 in 12 months. I don’t know why I chose this amount, but I did… and then I became obsessed over reaching it. Since August last year, I have been working around 84 hours a week.
I have been working 7 days a week.
Somewhere in there I also had to fit in my boyfriend, my friends and family, writing my blog, doing laundry, housework, eating and sleeping. All I was really fitting in was work, with a sprinkling of boyfriend and a dollop of sleep on top. I write my blog while I work nights babysitting and do very little laundry. I wear a lot of dirty clothes.
I knew I was failing to cope, but couldn’t bear to let go of my target. It felt like failure, which is madness as I was the only one setting this crazy goal. Everyone around me has been telling me for months to slow down, but I just couldn’t. My dream grew and grew and I got caught up in my own hype.
So, I carried on.
I don’t know how, but somewhere along the line I turned my beautiful dream into a mission that I was hell bent on completing, at any cost. That cost has been my health, happiness, relationship and overall wellbeing.
I am so tired.
I woke up on the morning of my 32nd birthday and cried. I realised I couldn’t go on. I was being stubborn, stupid and selfish, and instead of moving further towards my dream, things were beginning to fall apart. My life was unravelling before me and I didn’t know how to stop it. So I asked myself:
What are the fundamental elements of this dream I have so avidly been striving for?
To travel and share experiences with the man I love. To learn and grow and feel joyful every day. To get married, become a mother and find a place for myself in the world.
I want to wake up laughing and exude sunshine. I want to be able to say I’m fine when people ask how I am, and actually mean it.
I want to be happy.
None of these things are dependent on the contents of my savings account. What they are dependent on is me and the choices I make. I am the ruler of my own destiny. Duh! So I’m stripping away the noise and distraction and bringing back the joy; the me time, and hoping that it’s not too late to steer myself back on course to happiness.
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
– Rudyard Kipling
Since my birthday I have resigned from my Saturday and Sunday jobs, and my weekends will now be my own again. I want to sleep late and relish in lazy brunches and idle days spent watching movies and simply being me.
I am also cutting back on the amount of babysitting I do, and will now only work four nights a week. I will make time for my relationship, friends and family, laundry and luxuries like long showers and dinners that take more than 5 minutes to prepare.
And most importantly, I am doing away with my RTW budget. We have a departure date of 30th September, and whatever money I have saved by this point will be enough. The pressure is off.
So, what wisdom has being a year older brought me?
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