I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been extremely content here. This has a number of driving factors, and in the last few days I’ve really been thinking about what it is that has changed between my life in Canada and my life in Australia that has contributed to this. There are the obvious things, of course. The sun, the beach, the fact that I’ve been funemployed for the majority of this trip so far. But that’s not entirely it. I’m employed at the moment, living in a city that has the unmistakeable feel of fall in the air – knits and boots popping up in shops, crunchy brown leaves on the ground, and a chill that (overnight, at least) makes you want to huddle up in front of a fireplace – yet this is where I have probably felt the happiest. It’s almost impossible to pinpoint or accurately describe why or how this has manifested. As I’ve said before, I was certainly happy in Canada as well, but this is somehow just … better.
I believe the root of it comes from living my life, at least for a period of time, completely, shamelessly, and fully for myself. For the last six months, I have made decisions nearly solely on what I want, and I have done exactly what it is that I want, no more and no less. I have always strived to make decisions that will make me happy at home, but there is always an element of compromise, of doing things you don’t want to, of making decisions based on other people’s desires. And I’m not saying there shouldn’t be. I will, no doubt, find myself doing this more as I become settled in Sydney and have a job, friends, and a relationship that require my time and energy, and I’m very much looking forward to this. As much as doing what you want all the time can be fantastic, it is also easier to fall into the trap of not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, becoming too settled in your ways, and not trying anything new. It is important to put yourselves in situations where you are driven to explore the unknown, and surround yourself with people that push you to do so. I am happy to have be in a place that encourages me to do this, and to have people in my life – one in particular – that consistently challenge me.
That being said, I do think that the word selfish has far too negative of a connotation. I believe you must be happy before truly making anyone else happy. And I’m in no way saying that all of these things that I have wanted to do are strictly for myself, as I get happy from making others happy, so it just creates a big happy circle. (We could get into a discussion on the ethics of this – is it really a good deed if it stems from making me feel good rather than pure intent of goodness? – but lets not.) The point that I’m trying to make here is that living in a completely selfish manner for a few short months has been an exceptionally freeing experience. I have learnt things about myself, what I want, and – probably more acutely – what I don’t want. I’ve become more balanced , both literally and metaphorically. Even in the weeks before I left Canada (a few of them happily unemployed as well), I had trouble holding a balancing pose in yoga. Now my ankles tend to get sore in tree pose before I begin to tip. I’ve had the strength to turn down opportunities that I know will not make me happy, and I’ve realized I have certain requirements for any job that I do take. One of these, as trivial as it sounds, is that I very much want to be able to keep the collection of bracelets that I’ve accumulated while travelling – the standard pseudo-hippy traveller arm. I’ve realized any job that is a bit too professional where I would have to take them off just wouldn’t sit well with me, that’s just not what I want at this moment. I’ve become more comfortable expressing myself and what makes me happy, and this is an example of that, though it may seem superfluous.
I don’t like the word blessed, and lucky seems to not give enough credit where credit is due, but you get where I am going. I am fortunate enough to have a family that supports this type of life. My brother, though exceptionally different from myself in many ways, is similarly chasing the world despite – or, in my personal opinion, because of – his endless potential and boundless intelligence that would enable him to become any number of rich and successful things. My parents have, without fail, supported our decisions to do this, as well as every other endeavor we’ve embarked on. I have no doubt they will continue to do so. This has been instrumental in my life, as making the decision to come here was not necessarily an easy one, though it may have appeared to be. It was simply set in motion for much longer than most people realized, so the final purchasing of a plane ticket didn’t take any deciding at all. It wasn’t even necessarily Australia that I would be going to, I just knew I would go somewhere. I completed a four-year Bachelor of Commerce degree and, despite Dalhousie University’s best intentions, came out of the program with a rather bitter take on the business world as a whole and very little interest in diving directly into the rat race. I chose to remove myself before I even got started, and took a position in a hotel that I was severely overqualified for. This made it easier to quit my job after just over a year and depart to Australia, to chase my real dreams of travelling the world. As happy as I am with this decision, and as much as I plan to continue this type of life for a lot longer than one year, I have watched many of my commerce counterparts become Chartered Accountants, sales managers, and alike. It’s almost like watching an alternate life that I could have had, one with savings, investments, a career, a car, and a house. I certainly can’t imagine it, don’t want it, and am pleased to watch from afar, but it is rather fascinating to see how completely different our choices make our lives. I am not unique in my choices either, by any means. A few people who graduated from my program made comparable decisions to live or travel abroad; one woman volunteered in Africa for several months and is now studying to be a doctor.
So, after that rather long and rambling post, the moral of the story is that life is good at the moment. So good that I feel almost obnoxious for having this good of a life, but simply refuse to apologize for it, because I’ve worked my arse off to get here, and because being selfish is good sometimes : )