Amy on the RD - The Beginning - You Don't Need to Be Brave to Travel
June 25, 2015
So I have been on the road awhile now (blogs are inevitably published a month or two behind) and I am getting a surprising amount of messages and comments about each one. I didn’t think anyone would actually read them! It’s awesome to get feedback and I’m so glad you’re enjoying my haphazard adventures but here’s the thing, lots of people start their messages something along the lines of “wow you’re so brave, I could never do anything like that”. I felt I had to write something just to say no, no, no, I’m not brave, I’m not special I didn’t even really choose to do this, it just kinda happened and if it can happen to me it can happen to any of you. So I wanted to write a bit about how I ended up traveling so you can understand how not-exceptional my choices really were and that you can do this too if you want. I’m not brave at all, I’m just an ordinary girl, I’m just Amy!
Amy - the formative years
I’m just your average Melbourne girl, born and raised in Mooroolbark, East Melbourne. I have loving parents that are, by some miracle, still together. I was essentially a typical Australian kid, I did a Bachelors of computer science at RMIT and though a few too many parties took their toll on my grades, I graduated by the skin of my teeth. I worked, I studied, I decorated my crappy little flat, content that I was succeeding as an adult human. It wasn’t until my actual graduation months after I had taken my last exam that I realised that there was nothing in my life that I had really chosen.
The moment of truth
At my graduation dinner my father, who works at a big Melbourne IT firm called Intellplus, announced that his company had an internship in data base administration opening up and I could start in two weeks. He didn’t ask if I wanted the job, just said finally I could get out of that crappy retail job and work in my industry. My industry? I went from elated in my black cap and gown to defeated in about 20 seconds. My industry? I could see my future laid out working up through the IT ranks, fighting for promotion, finding a nice guy and commuting from our house in the suburbs to sit in front of a computer all day. And just like that I realized I didn’t even like IT! I felt trapped, like everything I had ever achieved was just following through my parent’s hopes and dreams for me. I didn’t want a career in IT, a husband and family, a whole life of being told what to do.
This realisation laid me out flat. What could I do? I didn’t want to disappoint my folks but I just couldn’t go along like this was all ok. Later that night cruising the internet in a despondent funk, I came across a travel blog illustrated with pictures of exotic locations all over the world and I knew I had found my out. I would spend 6 months travelling and “finding myself”. It was an acceptable thing to do after graduation and I knew it would buy me some time to come up with a plan. Of course my Dad didn’t think it was acceptable at all! How could I turn down a job with a chance to kick start my career on a whim? How could I risk my life on some crazy holiday in a foreign country? I could see he was disappointed that I would even consider it; he thought I was just being flighty and I would get over it and learn to enjoy the job. The more certain he got that this was a flight of fancy, the more I realised I had to escape. To go far away and discover who I was, who I wanted to be without the constant subtle pressures of my friends and family.
I had always known I wanted to travel but didn’t have any idea of where to start. A quick look at my meagre savings convinced me it would have to be somewhere cheap and the internet did the rest. Two weeks later I had tickets, a list of countries and no freakin’ idea what I was doing! Looking back I can’t believe how much of a clue I didn’t have, but I was just as stubborn as my father, I was a grown woman, he couldn’t forbid it and damn it, I was going.
So you see, I didn’t get here through an act of bravery or ideal lifestyle design. I am here because I was stubborn, because when faced with an option that was unacceptable I ran away, simple as that. To say I’d never regretted my decision would be a lie, but I am fiercely glad I did it! The things I’ve learnt about myself and the “real world” in the last months is an education sorely lacking at university. It hasn’t all been easy sailing, I was unimaginably unprepared for what a life of travelling required and when I read back over my early misadventures, I have to laugh out loud at my naivety but I wouldn’t change it for a second. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve seen, the learning to stand on my own two feet, those things are priceless.
Anything I can do, you can do better
I had no experience in the real world but still I stumbled through. If I can do it without preparation, without a five star budget or a travel companion then so can all of you. If you want to make that change, you can do it. I am not an exceptional person, I’m not brave or wise, I am just a typical Australian girl.
I flew out three weeks after I graduated and my father didn’t come to the airport. I wasn’t brave, I was a blubbering mess, the only thing that got me on that plane was the non-refundable ticket. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! I don’t know if I will go back to Melbourne, if I’ll end up working in IT, I don’t know if my Dad will ever speak to me again but I do know that these last months have been the best of my life. I took a chance that wasn’t a chance. I made a decision that wasn’t a decision. I followed where my gut lead me and anyone could do the same. I’m not exceptional; I’m Amy, Amy on the road.