I’d had my eyes on it for more than a year. It was this a grand finale, looming in the future for so long I thought it would never arrive. Time passed, and I worked my tail off to make it happen. I filed the paperwork, got the visa and booked the plane ticket for a journey of a lifetime.
Ever since I left Australia in March of 2013 I had been planning a return. I wasn’t eligible to receive another visa for Oz, but I could obtain one for New Zealand. And I certainly was never one to hesitate on the prospect of dropping myself off in some foreign country. I was a traveler, wasn’t I? I’d lived in four countries, and touched down in more than 20. This was my lifestyle. So as I boarded that plane in sunny South Florida, all packed and set to embark on my next great adventure, I was surprisingly relaxed. And ready to put that 12-hour flight from Los Angeles behind me. I’ll never forget the view from my window seat as we cruised into Auckland. The green hills, the gorgeous water, the sun poking over the clouds to bathe the landscape in a glorious light. I was so excited.
I followed my usual routine upon arrival. I had an AirBnB booked, and proceeded to open a bank account, file for a tax number, set up a local phone number… all the little life details. I joined a gym and registered with a recruitment agency and even found my first position as a temp worker. All in less than two weeks. Sounds like things were working out perfectly, right? Except they weren’t. My heart wasn’t in it. You see, I had worked hard in Florida. I set up a blog, started writing freelance, and had gotten to the point where I was being published regularly with a local magazine group. I had to give that up to move and follow this dream I’d concocted almost a year and a half ago. I wasn’t there anymore.
I had changed. My priorities had shifted, and I was no longer that person who was so desperate to stay overseas. I had built the beginnings of a solid life back at home – the one place I never thought I’d end up, not in a million years.
But life is funny like that.
So I left New Zealand, after a mere three weeks. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, and there were plenty of tears involved along the way. But deep down I knew. I knew that I had gone more than 8,000 miles in the wrong direction. This was not where I was supposed to be. One doesn’t have to fling themselves halfway across the world to find out the path isn’t quite right. It could be a a job, or a relationship, or a new project. Sometimes they feel right, and sometimes they don’t. Those little intuitive feelings are our strongest and most reliable guides, if we have the courage to listen to the whispers. It was Marilyn Monroe who said, “A woman knows by intuition, or instinct, what is best for herself.” And it takes guts to step outside the lines and justify your actions based on an intangible feeling. Many of us are out there trying to create our own careers. We’re carving out a little niche in an otherwise crowded world of noise and competing talent. And it can get disheartening. Others may tell us to give up and step back into the normal mould of a nine to five job. I may not have found success in New Zealand in the way I imagined, but I did learn. I learned loads, about myself and about what I really want out of life. And I want to keep pushing on. I plan to keep building my freelance career, even if that means I have to hang up my traveling shoes for a spell.
The legendary Steve Jobs probably said it best when he uttered these words. “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Thanks Steve Jobs, I think I will. And so should we all.