Admit it, we’ve all had those days where we think “I could just pack up, get in my car and drive in any direction, wherever the road takes me”, right? It’s usually not too long before the little voice of ‘reason’ (or should I say, fear) tells us we’re silly, we’ve got a job to do, we’ve got ‘responsibilities’ and eventually talks us out of it. Sound familiar?
Well – one day, I decided to ignore that little urge to deny myself the freedom of doing whatever the hell I wanted and I packed up a bag, told work I was having some time off, jumped in my car and just drove. The experience changed my life. It opened my eyes to a whole new ‘me’ that I never knew existed (or, maybe I did and I had just lost myself somewhere among the day-to-day life of being a career-driven ‘adult’); an independent, strong and most of all happy me.
It was a Friday afternoon and I was sitting at my desk at work (as I did from 8:45am – 5:15pm every single week-day) when I had the idea. I had recently been through one hell of a hard and messy relationship breakdown, I was tired and I was losing my spark for life.
The urge to run away was eating at me more than ever, and so this time I decided to do it (more or less). I packed up on Friday afternoon, I knew nobody else at work was on holidays and so I said to my manager “I need time away”, and that’s all it took. My boss could see I was struggling, so she said “go and do something completely for yourself”; so that is exactly what I did.
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I jumped in my car with no idea where I was going to end up. I started in South-East Queensland (my home) and drove South, mainly because I had driven South more than North and I felt somewhat comfortable driving a road I had driven before, but I ended up so much further than I could’ve imagined. By the end of my trip, I had driven through five states of Australia (to the border of a sixth), travelling 7000 kilometers over 70-something hours of driving. I had witnessed some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and discovered things about myself that I had never known.
By the end, I had driven through Melbourne City; one of the most cultural and lively cities in Australia, spent a night in a hotel in the middle of nowhere (central New South Wales, literally the middle of nowhere), rode a giant Ferris Wheel on a beach in Geelong, watched the sun rise over Bells Beach, watched a colony of seals sun-bathing and playing in their natural habitat, driven the entire Great Ocean Road which plays host to one of the most incredible coastlines in the world, taken a helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles, stood at the top of a lighthouse at the southern-most point in Australia and made friends with some backpackers in a hostel in Canberra. I did all of this completely unplanned.
Taking my first solo-trip changed something in my mind. I felt a freedom that I had never, ever experienced before in my life. I felt a sense of independence I had never known I was capable of and I felt a loneliness I had never felt before, too.
From that day on, my perspective on life had changed. I was no longer driven to sit in an office 5, sometimes 6 days a week working for someone else’s dream. Instead, I was driven to challenge myself again, to find out how much more I was capable of achieving – all on my own.
Now, I have traveled to 6 different countries (about to be 7) and am living on the other side of the world, working and travelling Europe (my latest spontaneous solo-trip ended up with 23 hour flight to the opposite side of the world – talk about challenging yourself, right?). I finally realised that the little voice of reason was no voice of reason at all; it was fear, a crippling and destructive feeling that ultimately destroys so many opportunities to find true and unforgiving happiness. If you continue to listen to it, that is.
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