A year ago, I would’ve never imagined I’d be jobless, single, travelling alone in Asia – and happy about it.
In my 28 years, I can’t think of another year where I’ve:
– Experience as much change in my life
– Cried so much, out of happiness and anxiety
– Worked through so many fears
– Followed my heart and took so many leaps of faith
– Made new friends and reconnected with old friends
Every month was different from the one before and it felt like I experienced more change and excitement this year than the last 4 years combined.
Highlights From This Year
- January – Leaving my job started to become reality. I had an idea of what I’d do with my year off, enough personal savings to fund it, and if I didn’t quit now I’d still want to leave months later.
- February – Handed in my resignation letter and silently prayed things would turn out okay. When colleagues started asking what I’d do with my year off, I was scared as hell and all I could say was I was going to “explore for a year” (which later became the name of this blog). Meanwhile, my long-term partner had just moved out of our apartment to take a job in another country.
- March – It sunk in I was really leaving my job next month. Becoming more confident in my decision to quit, I started better articulating what I was going to do for the year: pursue my interests in the web area and travel solo for the first time.
- April 1 – Last day at my job. After being asked a few times if I was going to blog about my time off, I wrote my first article about leaving my job. If documenting my journey inspired even one person pursue what felt right instead of what they were “supposed” to do, I’d be feel happy.
- April 2 to May – Flew to London, UK for to visit my partner. At the end of my stay, my long-term partner of 4 years and I wished each other well and parted ways due to the distance between us (Toronto and London). While the break-up was initially tough, the hardest thing was telling my family (it took 4 months for me to find the courage to tell them.)
- May to September – Back in Toronto, I took a full web design course. The knowledge I gained was important, but most memorable were my zen-like teacher and a new friend I made from Spain.
- September – With the lease on my apartment ending in November and planning to travel but not sure when or how long, I spent many nights debating between staying in my 2 bedroom apartment, moving, finding new roommates, subletting out my room while I travel, travelling sooner and putting everything in storage, selling some things but storing others and combinations of these options.
- October – Took a leap of faith and decided to sell all my furniture on Craigslist and to start travelling the next month. With the help of friends and many kind strangers, I sold and donated all my belongings within about 3 weeks.
- November – After a debate between buying a packaged round-the-world ticket, open jaw tickets, and setting dates for future flights, I took another leap of faith and I bought a one-way ticket to India.
- Mid-November - With my departure date nearing, I had major anxiety about travelling solo. I worried about being lonely, homesick, getting pickpocketed, losing my belongings. Days before my flight, I cried at the idea of being away from home for Christmas for the first time.
- November 25/end of Nov - Spent my first solo day in Delhi. It felt exciting and liberating. None the fears or worries around being by myself materialized. Days later, I joined my small group tour and had an unbelievable 3 weeks through northern India.
- December – Flew to Thailand where I spent Christmas Eve with a relative of a friend, Christmas Day at a beautiful temple, and camping in the mountains for New Years. Having travelled for over a month, I surprised myself that I hadn’t felt lonely nor homesick, and in fact having a great time.
Biggest Lessons from This Year
- When in doubt, choose change. It’s easy to stay with status quo instead of following what your gut tells you. Maybe its seems too risky, unconventional or just plain scary, but each time you push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of, you grow more into the person you’re meant to be.
- Anticipation of pain is more painful than the event itself. We spend a lot of emotional worrying about what might happen, imagining what-if scenarios, building contingency plans for worse case outcomes. In my case, worrying about people’s disapprovals or about feeling lonely, homesick. When then the actual event started happening, things weren’t nearly as bad, in fact they turned out quite great! If you find yourself worrying, rehearse the best case scenario instead and know that whatever difficulties you imagine or experience, they will all pass in the long run.
- Things will work out and you’ll have help on your journey. When we start going off the conventional path, you might feel alone or wonder if you’ll end up worse off than you were before. Have faith things will be fine. If you pursue your dreams and open up, you may be surprised by the amount of help you’ll get for your journey. Just through selling my belongings, I made a friend who helped me plan my entire trip to Thailand, and a scriptwriter who gave my plants a good home and guide me on how to be a more productive writer (which I’m still practicing).
Thank you to my friends for being part of my journey and for letting me be part of your story too. All the best in health, happiness, love and success, and cheers to another year of new adventures. Happy New Year!
>> What do you remember the most from your year? What was the biggest lesson you learned this past year?