Throughout my childhood and up until my late-twenties, my dream was to travel. I’d tell anyone who’d listen how I wanted to travel the globe, finishing off with a permanent move to Australia. Or maybe Europe.
So when I embarked upon a teaching career at 25, a big part of me saw it as a passport out of England – a skill that I could escape with. I envisioned myself, laying on the beach at half past 3 every afternoon; frolicking about the country each weekend; living the good life.
Years later, with only a few cheap holidays under my belt and no plans of emigration, Mr. G and I began to argue. Resentment festered in our relationship as I repeatedly pushed the idea of emigration to Australia, and he repeatedly pushed back.
“How can you talk about moving permanently to somewhere you haven’t been?”
“Why do you even want to go?”
Now – this might sound ridiculous – but this question stopped me in my tracks. Despite a lifetime of telling myself that this was what I wanted, I had never really stopped to unpick the reasons why I wanted/needed to go.
After a lot of soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that it was all about escape.
Escape from miserable weather. Escape from my job. Escape from normality.
Escape from myself.
My completely unrealistic dreams of a life abroad, which had very little to do with the realities of moving and working in a foreign country, and somehow saw me miraculously transformed into a stunning, surfing, Elle McPherson look-alike, were all just about being content.
Once I realised this, I knew that I didn’t want to emigrate. I just wanted to be happy.
And relief washed over me.
From then on, I decided that my goal should be to work out how to be happy. And then if I still wanted to emigrate – because I do enjoy frolicking on beaches – then I could. But it wouldn’t mean anything. Move or not, I wouldn’t be any less of a person.
Recently, I keep seeing the same Seth Godin quote doing the rounds on social media: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life that you don’t need an escape from.” This hits the nail on the head for me. I’ve found that the more I worked at being happy in my daily life, the less important holidays became.
Last year, Mr. G got a 3-month IT contract, working in Amsterdam. It was a good job, working with lovely colleagues, in a fantastic place. Seriously – have you tried a stroopwaffle?! Everything went so well that he was actually away for around 8 months and they offered him a permanent role, with free and frankly gorgeous accommodation. I had just left my job. We were renting our house. It was perfect timing!
And guess what happened? Yep. I wouldn’t go!
At the time, I was just beginning to form an idea for my business, Skills with Frills, and I knew that I wanted this to be in Yorkshire. More than this, I knew that as perfect as this seemed, it just didn’t feel right.
So I said what my twenty-something self would have been aghast to hear, “I know Amsterdam is amazing, but I’m happy here. I want to be here right now.”
And here I am.
Would you benefit from thinking about the why behind your biggest dreams? Have you already done this and found similar conclusions? Have you let go of something that you thought you wanted? I’d love to hear your thoughts: