What do you do?
It’s a question I’m certain you have all asked, and been asked on numerous occasions.
The well rehearsed answers
I have sounded off my own generic response countless times but only now, aged 32, have I actually been able to answer this question honestly.
What do I do? I’m a
graphic designer traveller.
Come 30th September 2012, I will be boarding a flight to India with my boyfriend Lee, and setting forth on an indefinite RTW adventure.
This will be the day that my biggest dream will become a reality, but it hasn’t been an easy process to get to this point. It will have been one very long walk to the departure gates. By the time I am actually winging my way through the skies, it will have taken me 22 months of hard work and sacrifice to make my dream a reality.
When I first began this journey I was in a very different place. Aged 30, I was heavily in debt, to the tune of £15,000 GBP (roughly $24,000 USD), and desperately unhappy with my life. What made matters even worse was the fact that I had hidden my debt from everyone around me, including my boyfriend of three years. I had tried to ignore the matter for as long as humanly possible, but eventually change had to come. The burden of my hidden debt was growing heavier by the day, so I had to make a choice. I told the truth.
As you can imagine, it didn’t go down well. Though Lee and I tried to work through it, in the end we decided to break up. It was at that moment that I finally hit rock bottom.
But as hard a fall as it was, I can honestly say it was the best place I could have possibly found myself. It was the place from which my dream was borne. This was the moment I finally listened to my heart, and admitted what it was I wanted to do with my life; I wanted to travel the world indefinitely. From this point onwards, everything changed.
Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation. – Elizabeth Gilbert
I had been in debt for ten years and had tried to pay it off countless times in the past without success. This time though, I knew things would be different. This time I was armed with a secret weapon; an all encompassing passion to see the world and live life on my own terms. It was game on
I wanted to get out of debt as quickly as possible, and so set myself the goal of paying it off in one year. I work as a graphic designer and earn a decent wage, but it wasn’t enough to make that happen, so I took on extra work – 40+ hours a week of extra work to be exact. I took on three part-time jobs as a babysitter, waitress and shop assistant, and waved goodbye to my social life. Oh, and I also sold 90% of my belongings.
Nine months later, I was debt free.
During this time Lee and I had stayed in touch. He had been moved by my hard work and determination and could see that I was doing all this for myself, not to try and win him back. Inadvertently though, this is what it did, and my dream of travelling the world became ours to share.
Since paying off my debt I have continued to work hard and am currently building my savings and selling off the rest of my belongings in preparation for our departure. It has been a long, emotional and exhausting journey, but one that I am so grateful for having experienced. It has left me forever changed, and fully prepared for whatever challenges may lie ahead. Now there is a new and wonderful path that stretches out before me, and I can’t wait to start walking it.
It’s easy to look at all those ‘lucky’ people out there travelling the world and think the process of getting there has been easy for them. And I’m sure that is the case for a lot of people… but for many others it has been an all consuming and life changing mission.
I wanted to share my story with you to show that aspect, but also to prove that no matter how long and difficult the road ahead may look, it can be done. You can live the life of your dreams – you just have to want it badly enough.
No matter what difficulties you are facing, if you prioritise your dreams of travelling the world, I truly believe you can make them come true. With time and sustained effort, anything is possible.
The bumps in the road may make your path more difficult, but they also serve to make it a lot more beautiful. Be grateful for your challenges; the pebbles in your otherwise unrippled stream. They are the rocks that alter the course of the river of life; your life. So let’s go back to my original question.
What do you do? The answer doesn’t seem so simple now, does it?
All you have to do is be yourself and live the story that no one else can live – the story of your own unique life.- Unknown
Hannah is a 32 year old traveller, writer and truth seeker. Having paid off $24K debt in just nine months, she will embark on an indefinite RTW adventure with her boyfriend Lee starting September 2012. Along the way they also plan to get married, have babies and set up a charity. Follow their journey as they map out a new life on the road.
Big thanks to Hannah for submitting The Mellyboo Project’s first ever guest post.