So it’s official. I’ve only gone and done it. I have quit my job, bought my tickets, and, in exactly six weeks, I will be jetting off on my next adventure – backpacking around Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand for approximately four and a half months, solo for the most part.
It has been a fairly long time coming, in the sense that these are all places I have wanted to visit for a very long time. The idea of quitting my job to take yet another few months off to travel has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time, but it took a fair amount of guts to go ahead and do it this time. I had a “proper” career job, which I enjoyed, and was a paid a decent amount to do. I have a great social life in London. However, the idea of being stuck in a huge city forever, commuting further and further as the years go by, simply did and does not appeal to me.
So off I go. Soon. A first step towards the future I seek. Breathtaking temples, beautiful beaches, scenic roads, crazy public transport, local interaction, hostels, hotels, guesthouses, stunning scenery, and incredible wildlife – I am ready for it. I will never forget the pure exhiliration fizzing through my veins after booking my flights. My hands shaking lightly, my heart pumping, my breath catching.
Yet, as excited and happy as I am, my brain seems intent on unsettling me. From the pre-trip admin (jabs, visas, endless to-do lists) to the inevitable self-doubt (Am I doing the right thing? Is this stupid and irresponsible?), guilt (Why did I leave a well-paid job which I enjoyed?) and outright fear (Is it going to be OK? Am I going to miss my boyfriend too much?), my mind has been whirling and swirling, somewhat like the Mistral outside my window, impossible to quieten. At times, I have felt on the verge of madness.
I have caught myself trying to plan the perfect trip. “I am so lucky to have this opportunity so I must make it all worthwhile.” “No room for error.” This is ludicrous! And totally unnecessary. My brain really is not very keen on my heart taking over. And so I sit and I breathe and I notice all of this. I do my best not to give in to the fear. Then, whilst enjoying the morning sun, I read this:
“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.” Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love.
Funny how sometimes all you need is to read someone else’s prose that captures exactly what you are struggling to put into words.