A journey into the unknown

24 comments

Ever since I first decided I wanted to sell up, ship out and travel the world indefinitely, I have dreamed big and made plans. Where I was going to go, what I was going to do, how much money I was going to save, how much extra work I would need to take on to save this money… I made lists, determined budgets and scheduled every moment of my life in my red Moleskine diary. It was beautifully packaged madness.

I set goal posts.

I reached them.

I edged them further back.

I reached them.

I edged them further back…

Was I chasing a dream or testing myself?

Be kind and rewind

Two weeks ago I hit a wall. I realised I no longer knew what to do with all my plans, targets and goals; how to reach them – or harder yet – how to let them go. I felt as though I had slowly been climbing my way up to the top of a giant tree, and now there I was, stuck at the top with no idea how to get down again.

I felt completely isolated out on this wavering limb, afraid, confused and unhappy.

So, unsure of how to begin my descent back down to ground level, I shut down and embarked on a period of self-imposed isolation. I couldn’t face my computer; my blog has remained stagnant, I have ignored emails, comments and tweets.

I gave myself

space.

I slept, ate, rested… relaxed. I started and finished a book – something I haven’t done in a very long time. I spent time with old friends and made new ones, and reaquainted myself with a once treasured pastime of mine; dolce far niente or the joy of doing nothing. Gradually I began to feel my way down through the branches.

It has been a painful climb, but I feel as though finally I am back down on terra firma.

A man’s own self is his friend.
A man’s own self is his foe.
– Bhagavad Gita

I am beginning to understand myself in ways I have previously either been oblivious to, or simply chosen to overlook. Though I am proud of my ability to set a goal and give 110% of myself in pursuit of it, I am learning now that it doesn’t always have to be this way. Sometimes I need to allow myself to put down the map, and enjoy getting lost in the unknown. Because after all, regardless of how many plans I might make, that is still how my future largely remains; unknown.

I forgot how utterly delicious that idea is to comprehend.

As a die-hard dreamer, planner and doer, this shift in thinking won’t come easy, but we already know how determined I am, so I know that no matter how long it takes, sure enough, the change will come.

It’s the journey, not the destination

When I first launched this blog, I had no question in my mind as to its identity; it was a travel blog. As a woman with a wealth of travel experience both behind and in front of me, it was the obvious niche to settle amongst.

Then the edges began to get blurry. My posts have become less about travel, and more about life, and I began to worry… Would people still want to read my story if it wasn’t completely about my experiences as a traveller?

But then I smiled as I realised; we are all travellers in one way or another. We are all on a journey, and whether I am at home in England, living in India or hiking through the jungles of Borneo, that journey continues. I don’t need to buy a ticket for it, I was born with one. We all were. And that is a story worth sharing.

I recently read a beautiful and poignant post by an incredibly inspiring young woman, Patricia. She is working her way through university and will graduate 100% debt free before embarking on a new life in Japan and beyond. She wrote one sentence that I have embraced as a mantra of late: “I just need to accept myself, flaws and all.”

Patricia helped me realise that I don’t need to push myself to meet goals, standards, criteria or expectations. I just need to let myself go… and allow myself to enjoy the journey that I am on.

And so, this is a journey blog.

I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I do know that I will give in to the process and allow myself to discover new things, both in the world, and within myself.

There are no more goal posts, targets, budgets or 84 hour work weeks.

I have no idea what lies ahead.

The journey continues…

break

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel March 7, 2012 at 20:48

Aw…us silly humans and our plans. I would like to say I’ve learned a lot about not making too many plans–you never know what tomorrow brings–but realistically, I haven’t. I’m still learning it, and that’s ok. Self acceptance has been a long-time goal of mine and I’m happy to say I’m getting better at it.
I will always read what you write–whether it’s sitting on your couch in England or a quick post from a rickshaw!

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:34

Thank you Carmel – I definitely share that goal! I seem to have a habit of progressing and regressing though, so am hoping that by clearing out the unnecessary noise and distractions, I will naturally just feel more at ease in myself. I’m glad you are getting better at it, and look forward to following along on your journey 🙂

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Elizabeth Bird March 7, 2012 at 20:51

Wonderful post Hannah. I like that- A “journey” blog. I understand your feelings of being overwhelmed. I too sometimes feel like I’m working all the time and don’t have enough time to come up for air and wonder “why?” I’m excited to keep reading and see where your journey takes you!

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:37

Thank you Liz. It certainly has been overwhelming, especially trying to find a place for myself as a new blogger. I realise now though that I don’t need to try and fit in – I can create my own path 🙂

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Patricia GW March 8, 2012 at 16:20

Hannah, I’m so honored to have inspired you and helped you in any way. With every post I can see you growing and becoming more spiritually aware, it’s really beautiful 🙂 Thank you for such a lovely mention xx
It seems you really needed that space to unplug and climb down your tree, an excellent metaphor for how it feels to be stuck without a way down. The goals are like anything in life – they need balance. My mental image is of Captain Barbosa saying, “They’re not rules… more like guidelines.” It’s smart to have an idea of how much money you’ll need to travel, but working yourself to the bone to reach a specific, higher target leads to unhappiness. It’s something I learned the hard way, too.
A journey blog… that captures the feeling of it so well. It’s so hard to limit yourself to a definition when your life is full of so many different and wonderful things. I look forward to more of your writing, be it about travel or any other journey you’re on 🙂

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:22

Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words Patricia, as always. “They’re not rules… more like guidelines.” << I love that! I am going to try my hardest to stop making rules and setting limits for myself, and I know that my journey will be all the more rewarding because of this. I always used to think that I was a pretty relaxed and self-aware person, but now realise I am the total opposite, with so much learning and growth ahead of me! I can honestly say though, that I find that idea absolutely thrilling and can't wait to see what lies ahead 🙂

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Jeremy or IHeartTravel March 8, 2012 at 21:53

Hannah this is why you’re one of my favorite people and bloggers! I came to the same realization over at my blog.
When I started the blog I was about to embark on a year worth of memorable trips, that started in London(<—love it). As the trips dwindled I read most of my posts and they dealt with my life, my thoughts, my concerns….and through talking with a good friend/follower…. I realized to enjoy what I was doing and not over think it. He told me IHeartTravel is more about than just your travels it's about life/your life and all the other adventures through this life.
I was so inspired by this I wrote my self a note not soon after reminding me to just enjoy what I do, and continue to pour my passion and love into it!
I for one will be following your adventure for as long as you keep sharing it!!!
Best !

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:16

Jeremy, your words always manage to make me feel better – thank you so much for your lovely comment and compliment! I feel like I can finally just forget about trying to fit into a niche and just write the TRUTH – ah how I love that word. The truth shall set us free 🙂

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Renee March 8, 2012 at 23:33

I love your Journey Blog and please keep it going:) We all need to give ourselves a break and some space and know that it is okay to do that. I love getting lost in the unknown and unexpected because you learn and grow as a person – AWESOME! You hit it right on the head “It is ABOUT the JOURNEY” – Love that:) Have a Great Day!

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:13

Thank you so much Renee, that means the world to me 🙂

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Sarahsomewhere March 9, 2012 at 02:16

I love reading about your inner journey Hannah! I can relate to the endless planning and dreaming, forever moving forward, until you stop and think, what about now? It’s not easy to find a balance between setting goals and being present in the moment, countless books have been written on the subject and probably always will because of the simple fact that most of us aren’t very good at it! I have a mantra ( that I borrowed) “progress not perfection”. It’s been an honour to read about your progress 🙂

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:11

Thank you, I always love your words Sarah, and will also be borrowing your mantra – it’s simple and succinct. I am learning to tune out from the unnecessary noise and take pleasure in the quiet… I have a habit of getting obsessed with projects though, so am trying not to see this change as a project in itself, and just BE. It’s crazy that what should be the simplest thing in the world for me, might possibly be my greatest challenge yet!

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Kim March 9, 2012 at 05:15

HANNAH!!! I don’t even know what to say except that, once again, I too feel as though I could have written this post myself. I also went through the same challenges and decided my blog was a journey blog, though without the great insight that you have had to actually call it such.
It’s all a journey, right? You know it as much as anybody. You are such an inspiration- a bright light shining all the way across the ocean (I swear I can see it). Keep going- you are so totally on to something here.

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:06

Thanks Kim, I really appreciate your kind words. It has been a difficult few weeks but I feel like a shift has occurred somehow and I am excited to see what lies around the corner, and beyond. It is so wonderfully freeing to stop over-thinking, planning and obsessing, and just go with the flow.

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Savvy Scot March 9, 2012 at 09:02

Hannah! It is like you have found yourself. Your writing style has changed in the sense that you feel totally at peace with yourself. Glad you are back 🙂

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Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:03

Thank you so much for your kind words. I feel like I am getting there, though I am still a major work in progress. I feel more relaxed about my writing, and what I am writing about, but the internal journey continues! It’s good to be back though, and to have you reading 🙂

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Odysseus Drifts March 12, 2012 at 09:49

Hi Hannah! I only just started reading your blog and I already love it. I think writing about both your travels through the world and travels through your personal life is the perfect combination.
Try not to let yourself feel down by not reaching that “perfect” savings goal. Things can still be beautiful without being perfect. For the longest time, I tried saving money in the U.S. for my RTW trip, but things kept happening, like my cat getting sick and needing expensive surgery, and I could never reach my savings goal, even though, like you, I was sometimes working crazy work weeks, up to 70 hours a week. I would get so exhausted from doing this that I’d sometimes get physically ill. Once I even fell asleep on the floor in front of my bed, too tired to even make it into the bed. No joke.
After realizing how profoundly unhappy this lifestyle was making me, I then changed tracks, became an expat in Korea for 2 years — and from the money saved by being an editor in Korea, I am now living my dream and in the middle of a year-long (or maybe longer!) RTW trip. Also, my time in Korea was, in itself, an adventure.
And, like I said, I never did reach my original goal — at least not on the path I originally wanted to pursue — but everything turned out far, far better than my original plans. I hope your life is the same in this regard.

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Toni March 15, 2012 at 21:09

Such a beautiful post of reflection hun and I’m so honoured to be part of your ‘rejuvenation’ =) Accepting that you have strengths and weaknesses is all part of learning who you are as a person and defining the journey that you want to be on whether it’s a solid plan or a plan that changes as you do.
You WILL find your journey and whether you write about your personal journey or a journey that takes the physical road, we will still read =)

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Hannah March 31, 2012 at 08:55

Thank you Toni. It’s so wonderful to have your support. I feel like I am unable to separate my physical and emotional journeys, so for now, I guess that is what my blog will reflect. Who knows though, in a few months time things could change yet again, and I embrace that! xxx

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Therese March 23, 2012 at 04:36

A journey blog… I like that!
“I don’t need to buy a ticket for it, I was born with one. We all were. And that is a story worth sharing.”
Yes, yes, yes it is.
You are a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful soul! Keep rockin, Hannah! <3 <3

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Hannah March 24, 2012 at 19:06

Thank you Therese! And you already know how amazing I think you are, you are such an inspiration 🙂

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Kelley April 9, 2012 at 00:26

Hi Hannah, what a beautifully written post. I happily stumbled across your blog as I too am preparing to leave my current comfortable life and travel in September, also. I can totally relate to what you’ve been feeling, and have also discovered that this has become a journey in itself – the constant saving and planning and then finally finding a balance. I had my own crash back in October and since then I’ve slowed down and let things happen, the result is that things are now going without a hitch and I’m enjoying the ride. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading more from you.

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Rica April 11, 2012 at 10:32

hi Hannah, I got to your blog thanks to So Many Places.com, and I just would like to say that this post gave me light. I had a fight with my significant other last night about me being too selfish because I’ve been so focused in my travel plans that I’ve forgotten about my present and the people around me. I know chasing a dream means sacrificing alot of things, but I guess we just can’t risk friendships / love just like that. There has to be a balance in everything. That’s why I’m giving my self some “space” this weekend because I’m too caught up with all the planning that I hardly communicate with the world. It’s pretty hard though, and I always try to remind myself that the journey is more important than the destination.
You said…
Patricia helped me realise that I don’t need to push myself to meet goals, standards, criteria or expectations. I just need to let myself go… and allow myself to enjoy the journey that I am on.
I thought I was the only one feeling this…now I’m glad to know that I’m not alone and I can conquer it because of people like you. thanks!

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