Recently I decided life is too short and became a digital nomad travelling around the world. For as long as I can remember I have felt restless. Not unhappy, quite the opposite most of the time, just restless. Always looking for the door, never quite feeling settled, never really feeling like I belong.
I think I always wanted to travel, I envied friends we took a gap year to work in Ibiza, longing to live somewhere warm and close to the sea. Unfortunately, at 18 I also liked designer clothing and shoes. So much so that I managed to get myself into a fair amount of debt which made my dreams of packing it all in and running away impossible, I had bills to pay. I had to be responsible.
So I kept working, going from job to job, never really feeling settled or like I was utilising my whole brain. Eventually, I found my way into the Royal Navy (you can read about that here). It was the only way I could see that I could have the security of a regular income whilst using all of my skills, and travel the world. For 5 years it did just that and when I left I had a new confidence and focus. After spending 3 years at University I set up a Dance Company (Exim) where I stayed for 5 years as it’s Artistic Director. I knew from the word go that I wouldn’t stay forever, at the back of my mind as much as I loved it (especially the people I worked with) I was always thinking about how I could leave. Lucky for me two things happened: 1) I got pretty good at fundraising and Social Media Marketing and 2) I helped train and mentor a wonderful person, Laura (who was also my travel buddy for the past few years), who I knew I could not only trust to take Exim on but who could also do what I couldn’t, and take it even further. So there it was, my open door.
I remember a conversation with Laura, who knew how much I was struggling, about leaving. It went something like this:
Me “But I can’t go yet, it’s too soon there is too much to do.”
Laura “No, you need to decide what you want to do. The rest of us will just have to work around it.”
So that was that. I knew in that moment that there was never going to be a good time. I was never going to be able to tie everything up in a pretty bow and then hop on a one-way flight. Life isn’t neat and tidy. It’s messy and unpredictable. It wouldn’t have made any difference if I’d had waited those extra few months. I would never have felt ready. There always would have been reasons to stay. If fact there are so many reasons to stay it makes my head hurt and my heart ache. But I couldn’t stay. I felt like a bird trapped in a cage. I build the cage and I loved the cage, it was/ is beautiful, and there was a door so I could come and go. But it was making me ill. I’m just not someone who can stay in the same place for long, sometimes I wish I was different, but I’m not and it’s taken me 34 years to realise its ok to want to be free.
I have always suffered from Anxiety and occasional Insomnia, over the past 6 years I have also been having crippling stress related Migraines. People are often surprised by this revelation because on the surface I seem confident, and like someone who really has their life together. If you know me well or if you have lived with me you will know about the days I’ve spent unable to leave the bedroom, that I don’t reply to messages or answer the phone because I panic about what to say, the parties I’ve missed because I couldn’t be in a room with so many people and the times I’ve cried in my car before going into a school to teach a class because I thought I was the worst person in the world. The more trapped I felt the worse things became and I felt like if I didn’t do something I would keep getting worse.
So, I made the decision, I sold ALL of my things, and I bought myself some plane tickets! With every piece of furniture and item of clothing, I sold or gave away I began to feel lighter and lighter. I left Plymouth and moved home to Liverpool to spend time with my family and I felt lighter. I came off all the pills that kept me calm and helped me to sleep and I felt lighter.
So here I am 34, single, no dependents, no commitments, no home. But I have a plan and I’m ready to jump into the unknown. I have no idea what’s going to happen or if I’ll stick to my plan (probably not) but what I do know is if I didn’t jump I would have fallen, hopefully, this way I’m light enough to fly…
So this is my travel plan for 2016-2018
December – January: NYC
January – April: Guatemala (Learning Spanish)
April: NYC and UK (Popping home for a birthday and wedding)
May – August: Costa Rica and Nicaragua (More Spanish and Surfing)
August: NYC and Hawaii (My Mums wedding)
September – February: Columbia (hoping to teach English here as part of a government scheme)
February – March: Ecuador and The Galápagos Islands
April – June: Peru
August – January: Argentina (Teaching English and learning to Tango)
I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and who knows maybe it won’t be for me either but when I feel a little wobbly about what I’m doing I just think to myself “Be brave Claire” and I take a breath.
I just have one last quote as this really sums up how I feel right in this moment…
If you are on a similar journey I would love to hear from you! Especially if our paths might cross on the road. Drop me an email or comment below. I always reply 🙂