I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks back about something someone had said to me. I explained to her how since coming back from my first truly SOLO trip people keeping telling me how "Brave" I am, or how much "Courage" I must have, to be able to travel by myself to a country that I've never been to before. It doesn't matter how often this happens I'm still confused when people say it to me. I don't think it takes bravery or courage at all. Personally, I think all it takes is a drive to want to live a life that makes me feel fulfilled and happy. A life that may be different than the normal/typical life that everyone is used too.
It doesn't matter how often this happens I'm still confused when people say it to me. I don't think it takes bravery or courage at all. Personally, I think all it takes is a drive to want to live a life that makes me feel fulfilled and happy. A life that's different than the normal, where I'm not willing to settle for the typical comfort of a steady job, solid place to live because I know I deserve more.
She explained to me that for many people living outside of the normal 9-5 job, with a house and 2.5 kids seems like a huge risk, because of this most people aren't willing to do it. We chatted about how for most people, giving up a life that seems "secure" is just too big a risk for them to take in their minds and that's why they see people like me as brave.
She had a valid point. I've spent the last few years of my life trying to surround myself with people who aspire to dreams outside of the typical. People who aim for bigger than a secure job and a nice house in a good area of town. People who have a life that I aspire to live. People who live a life so far removed from what is 'Normal' that when I chat about the adventures of life, most people seem dumbfounded.
Yesterday I was reminded of why, for me anyways, the normal 9-5 with a house and 2.5 kids simply doesn't work. Why I'm not built for taking on the same mundane tasks every day. Why for me, this typical life that most people aspire to have doesn't work for me.
It made me wonder, does it really work for anyone ???
If we all are living the life that we see others living, simply because everyone else is doing it, can we truly be happy?
If we have the life society expects us to live, can we be happy? Are we just pretending to be because this is what we think happiness looks like?
Social media is full of pictures, stories, videos of all of these wonderful moments in life. People share the "cupcakes and sprinkles" moments so much that one would think everyone has the perfect little life they've always wanted. Granted for some people, myself included, life may not be perfect but it is amazing most days. It's full of days that outshine the last, that teach me something I didn't know, that allow me to grow and change in ways I never could've dreamed of. However, even I have days that I don't love. Maybe I need to share those days just as much as I share the good ones, I dunno.
We all know there are good days and bad days in life that come in waves. How we handle those days is what determines if we encode them as good memories or bad ones.
If you look at Facebook, you will see tons of people complaining about how much life sucks, how unhappy they are, or just what they hate about the everyday aspects of their lives. Hell, this is the whole reason I left Facebook in the first place a couple years ago. I closed my account because it had become nothing more than a place to play games, be bombarded with ads and read about just how crappy life really was for the people who showed up in my news feed.
I have no desire to be that person. I don't want a life where I wake up in the morning and don't want to get out of bed because I hate my job. I don't want to HAVE to be at a place that makes me unhappy. I don't want a life where I wonder at night "How will I get through tomorrow?".
I want to be excited to see the sunrise.
I want to have nights where I don't want to sleep because I'm so excited for what's next.
I want to jump out of bed at 5 am because I can't wait for the day to start.
I want to be reminded every day just how beautiful the world is and how blessed I am to be in it.
I know so many people who hate so much of their lives. They say they're happy they have kids but can't wait for time away from them. They love their jobs but hate their boss. They love the life they have but hate working for a living. They wish they could (insert choices here) but they can't because of (insert excuses), so they don't.
So which life is actually brave? Which person is courageous?
It's a hard question to answer, one I'm not sure I can answer actually. Ultimately I guess it depends on how you view your own life versus the lives of the people you see around you.
What I do know is I make choices in my life. Just like everyone else, we all make choices about what matters to us. I make choice to sacrifice comfort and sometimes personal space, in order to spend that money elsewhere because, for me, the only thing that sets my soul on fire right now is traveling, change and the world of unknowns. I don't care if I live in (what people politely refer to as the ghetto) if it means I can go overseas to a new country once or twice a year. I make the choice to not eat out every night of the week because I would rather spend that money on a flight, train ride or road trip to a place I've never been.
For those of you who drive nice cars, live in big houses or spend $500 a week on eating out, ask yourself if those things are really making you happy? Do you really care if you had a glass of $300 whiskey? Does it really matter how many bedrooms your house is when you live alone? Do you really need to spend $6 a day at Starbucks or would you rather put that $120 a month towards something else?
Life isn't about bravery, it's about choices. We choose, after a certain age, what we want in life. We make the choice as to what makes us happy. We choose what to have by the sacrifices we are willing to make, or by the sacrifices we aren't willing to make.
Every choice you make leads to either your own personal joy or your own personal suffering. After a certain age in life, you have no one to blame for those choices but yourself.
Are the choices I make in my life brave? I don't think so, but maybe for some people, they seem that way. Maybe for some people walking away from a stable 9-5 job is the bravest thing a person can do. For me, however, it was the only thing that made sense in order to have the life I knew I wanted.
I work a "normal" job when I need the money right now because I have yet to figure out how to make a living doing what I love. I, however, will not allow a "normal" job to control my life. I will not punch a clock when I would rather be walking in an art gallery in Dublin or along a beach in Thailand.
Everyone has the ability to live whatever life they want. They just have the make the choice to do it and sacrifice what they need to along the way in order to make it happen. Life doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to make sense to you, for you, based on what you want to get out of it.
My life is far from perfect but I can say with 100% confidence that I am infinitely happier today than I was a couple of years ago. I own about 1/3 of the things I used to own. I spend about 1/4 of the money I used to on eating out and going places with friends. I cleared out all the debt I had (with the exception of student loan) in order to put whatever money I can make aside to use for traveling.
When I travel, I do so in an unconventional way so that I can stretch as much money, as far as I can. Sometimes that means taking 4 flights with layovers and 36+ hours of travel just to get to somewhere I could have been to in 12 hours on a direct flight. I do this because the cost savings of traveling this way allows me an extra day or two in a place I've never been. This is a sacrifice I'm willing to make in order to follow my dreams and be happy.
I'm not any more courageous than YOU are. I'm not any more of a brave person than YOU are. I'm simply not willing to settle for the things I want out of this life. I'm not willing to settle for anything less than what I think my life should be. If you see that as courageous and brave then I'll take it, but please don't use that label as an excuse for why you can't do it. The truth is anyone can. YOU CAN! You just have to want to be happy more than you want the security of what you know.
What are you willing to sacrifice in order to be happy?