Ever feel like your life is a bit too predictable? So many of us get stuck in the same old routine: same commute, same faces, same job, same small talk. I think we just become a bit comfortable. As Paulo Coelho famously said: “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.”
This is what made me decide to seize the opportunity and try something completely different – head on a gap year on my own to Australia. It’s my biggest adventure to date, and not only was it the most exciting thing I’d ever dared to do, it also pushed me waaaay out of my comfort zone.
It was both ridiculously exciting and scary. Within my first week, I realised that I had no clue what I was doing. Not only had I drastically underestimated the amount of money I needed, I hadn’t thought about where I’d stay beyond my first week. I was so far out of my comfort zone that things suddenly seemed much less enjoyable and more about just surviving! Scared and unprepared, I realised that this was something I need to figure out and navigate on my own.
What I found especially challenging was the prospect of finding a job. It seemed like every job advertised was in the hospitality sector and I quickly became aware that I had a lot of competition – and very little relevant skills. Jet-lagged but refusing to give up, I persisted and persisted. After weeks of relentless job-hunting, a fellow backpacker told me about a waitressing job available in his friend’s shop in Bondi.
He was the little bit of hope and support that I needed. I jumped at the opportunity and before I knew it I was in training. But then, I was awful. Really awful. Who knew how difficult and high-pressure an industry this was?! I quickly gained so much respect for anyone who works full time in hospitality. I felt silly and totally challenged in every way – from balancing plates on my hands to trying not to mess up orders.
It took a lot of courage and a lot of self belief but in the end I did learn. Not only did I improve in my job, I actually began to enjoy it instead of dread it. I realised how far I’d come from being clueless and lost to being comfortable and capable. I also learnt how to get around and have fun in a new city.
I learnt how to approach people I had never spoken to before, but more importantly I learnt about myself – I had skills and traits that I never knew existed. I could be strong and persistent and I had the determination to succeed.
The year was a true adventure in every sense of the word. Yes, there were times when I felt rubbish, like during my first few weeks. But there were so many amazing times that made up for it – like trekking through rainforests and bathing in waterfalls. I felt ready for anything and able to conquer the world.
More than anything I learned that change means growth. Every step out of your comfort zone comes more knowledge about yourself and the world around you. So I say take yourself on an adventure. If you don’t, you’ll never know what you’re made of!