Let me rephrase that — I didn’t choose a life of travel. It chose me.
I haven’t always known what I want to do with my life. For most of my life, I went with the flow just like everyone else. I thought I was doing fine until I came to that point where I felt clueless, lost and confused about my life and my existence.
There was a time, whilst taking a shower, when I asked myself these — Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t I be just like anyone else? Why can’t I be content with having a stable job, a house and my own family?
I’m not always like this. As a matter of fact, I started off just like anyone else. I got a degree, and even a post-graduate degree, worked in the corporate world for a decade, and tried to work my way up the corporate ladder.
I was doing well. I was promoted several times and even got a work assignment in another country and stayed there for a year. I had the money and comfortable lifestyle. I can do whatever I want and go places because I had the resources.
But somewhere along the way, things changed.
Going to work felt like prison. Interacting with friends and colleagues felt superficial. And in spite having a comfortable lifestyle, something was still missing in my life.
I was not happy.
I tried to ignore it for sometime, thinking it was a just a phase — a quarter-life crisis as some would define it. But it grew stronger, the more I ignore it. And so I gave in and I let it consume me.
For weeks at that time, I would just lay in my bed, stare at the ceiling, and ask Universe [or whoever is out there] a million and one questions.
What do I want out of life? What do I do with my life? What do I really want in life? What can’t I be happy with what I have?
It sounds like I’m being an ungrateful bitch. The thing is, I never really asked for anything specific that I want. I believe I got what I deserve because I did the work and hustle hard.
I’m not asking for more money, or for a brand new car, or a luxurious travel trip to wherever. I wanted something more, something deeper. To nurture my soul and find meaning to my life.
So when nothing seemed to make sense anymore, I started questioning my mere existence. I started to look back at my life, hoping to connect the dots. But I got nothing.
Because of my INFJ personality, analyzing the situation, overthinking and always looking for answers were my second nature. I didn’t want to stop until I got an answer. An answer that I can be satisfied with.
So I tried to explore different options to somehow turn my life around. But nothing seemed to stick. It will always start as an idea and I will get excited about it, but after a few days, it will die down.
It was depressing and frustrating to say the least. And it went on for a few more weeks up until my birthday. At that point, instead of asking more questions, I asked for CLARITY as a birthday wish.
It didn’t come as a surprise when I got what I asked for. Universe is always conspiring, didn’t you know?
What was the answer then?
One of my closest friends shared an article with me about a Filipina who made a life out of traveling. I read her blog nonstop for days, did a lot of research and after 2 weeks, I made the decision to start a life of travel.
And it stick.
From that point forward, everything I did was related to starting a life of travel. I plotted my exit strategy at work, started selling my stuff, moved out of my place to save money, did nonstop research on how to survive a life on the road, and more. So much more.
I didn’t care that I was putting my career at risk or throwing all those years of hard work to waste. It didn’t bother me that I won’t have a permanent address. And I didn’t even hesitate giving up my comfortable life.
At that point, I was done with my life and my heart knows that it’s time to start living.
Just like most of long-term travelers out there, I did the same thing — quit my job, sold everything I have and traveled to the other side of the world. I didn’t know anyone, I barely had enough money to last me 3 months, and I was aware of all the health and safety risks but I was more than ready to take the jump.
And I did. I took that leap to the unknown.
For 14 months, I traveled solo in South America. Those 14 months were the happiest I have been in all of my 34 years of existence. I didn’t have much and everything I needed was inside a 65L backpack. And that was more than enough.
To say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made that completely changed my life is an understatement.
When I got back home, I was a totally different person. You’d think a lot would have changed after 14 months but nothing changed, only me.
Truth be told, going home was bittersweet.
I felt disconnected with the world I used to live in. I felt more alone at the place I grew up in, the place I once called home. My family and friends, I love them dearly.
But I’m different. I want different things. I want a different life. No matter how much I explain, no words will be right or enough. You have to experience it firsthand to understand.
It has been a year since I got back from that trip and not a day goes by when I’m not wishing and longing to be someplace else. To be at a hostel again or in the Amazon, interacting with travelers and locals, embracing a new culture, and creating wonderful memories.
Have I given up that life of travel? No, not just yet or maybe, never.
Because truth is, once you start a life of travel, you can never go back. You can only move forward to new destinations, create new experiences, and live a crazy beautiful life just as I am meant to.