In 2014, I wanted to conquer the world but I wasn’t too sure where, what and how. Fast forward a few years and now, in 2017, I’m about to scratch off an itty-bitty yet awesome part of my scratch-a-map.
2 ½ years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would manage to achieve a personal bucket list dream to go out and travel for an extended amount of time. I even wrote about it here!
I’d given myself 3 years to financially and mentally feel ready and responsible enough to take a year out, to *pause* my life in the name of awesome sunsets, meeting inspiring people who will have a completely different experience and to see what can be possible when I leave my front door.
Disclaimer: It’s my parents’ front door.
And now it’s really happening!!! I’m ready or…as ready as Russell ever was to tackle his adventures in Up! Only female, thinner, 3D and physically less durable. I no longer sit comfortably in the spring chicken camp.
And I’m flying out in less than two weeks’ time!!
In lieu of leaving, I thought I’d complete a quick review of what 23 year old me had hoped for and to evaluate how 26 year old me actually measured up! There were a few commitments I’d made a few years ago. The first major step and barrier for most people is the finances.
So what have I actually managed to do? I gave myself a few goals to help me achieve the travel dream but to also develop as an individual.
Well no thanks to the current state of affairs- I can literally see my beloved sovereign British Pound value dissolve my very eyes.
Oh Mr Raccoon. You have my complete empathy.
It’s honestly quite disheartening! However, when push comes to shove I did save up money despite not completely scrimping away as I thought I could. I’m taking approximately £12,000 with me.
This is less than the £15,000-20,000 budget sum I’d committed to save. However, considering in that space of time I’ve taken multiple holidays abroad, paid rent, bought a car, paid for my braces (which I absolutely love) and even splashed out on a memory foam mattress topper- I don’t think I’ve done that badly! The reality is, living expenses are just high so saving up £500-600 consistently was ambitious and perhaps a little naive of me?
Taking my destinations in consideration- of which 80% will be in South East Asia, I think it’s safe to say it’s a very reasonable sum to allow me to take in all of the sights and flavours.
Approx. daily budget: £25 (accommodation, overland travel, food and fun) and £5 (flights)
How my daily budget rises and falls is really dependent on which country I do end up travelling through and how my beloved GBP currency does in the upcoming year (stop bloody falling, please?) I will also be very honest and say that I won’t be taking all of my money, so I can definitely flex my daily budget for that must-do activity. On top of that, I’m also leaving the rainy trust fund behind because I don’t want to be financially vulnerable when I come home either! I’m sure the upfront rent deposit will hurt as much as before.
I had wanted to improve my Chinese for multiple reasons but thinking about it now, I think my biggest motivator was embarrassment. I also reasoned that it would open up potential opportunity for me if I ever decided to go and live in Hong Kong. I’d started off well, sourced a local-ish Chinese teacher in Manchester and bought multiple learning books. However, Cantonese suffers from being nonsensical and my literacy remains pretty dreadful. I have learnt to recognise symbols such as duck, chicken, cow and meat. But that really is about it. I’m definitely striking this off as a somewhat failed goal and a potential future with food poisoning, indigestion and constipation in Asia awaits! I’m bringing the drugs to cope for when this happens.
More positively, I recognised that I no longer feel compelled to work in Hong Kong and that, even if I had managed my language goals, it would not have been enough for a cosmopolitan city that pretty much demanded Mandarin too.
Result: Let’s not talk about it
Music Goals (personal development)
Since the age of 7, I’ve always been able to play an instrument. As an aspiring stereotype, I’d picked up the piano and violin and, dare say I, I was good. Not Asian good, oh no, but decent enough.
It’s with some shame to say that I don’t have any piano repertoires up my sleeves. I have not touched the piano and violin in months. I’d even admit that I’ve not properly practiced for years and I’m just glad my music teachers aren’t around to see my downfall.
On reflection though, I wanted to achieve this goal because I was embarrassed and felt guilty. Now, I’m less embarrassed by this fact because I no longer feel the need to measure myself as a musician. I think in a lot of ways, we’re really guilty of being nostalgic and holding onto aspects of our past identity and berate ourselves when the present self no longer measures up. But I’ve changed and I’m much happier lowering my pass bar in this department!
Graphic / Adobe Goals (personal development)
2 ½ years ago I’d also felt limited by my lack of ‘tangible’ marketing skills. I really enjoyed presenting my messages visually but I could barely recognise, let alone use, the brush tool on Photoshop. Now, through continuous use through work, I’ve been able to gradually use the programmes to a basic level and feel comfortable enough to write the words on my CV. I also feel able to improve my general photography and touch up my overall photos which will be really nice for my trip.
Interestingly, there’s been a decline in actually drawing, painting and using more traditional mediums. Perhaps we are simply given a creative quota to spend?
Result: Pass / Working Progress
There’s been a lot of times when I’ve felt that I’ve not achieved enough. The early to mid-20s have been really difficult in many ways and the constant reminder that you’re not quite enough yet is always there. Everything has demanded more time and effort than I’d first imagined. It takes that much longer to get established in any job, let alone a career. The concept of an adult relationships, ha, let’s just let that bit wither and die until the next hypothetical blog post.
Despite all of that, I can’t help but feel like the hard work does pay off. On reflection I think it’s perfectly fine to admit that when values change over the years and that you’ve not quite managed to reach goals no. 2, 3 or 4. In addition, I feel more grown up and responsible and I’ve achieved other smaller goals that were never on my initial agenda, such as running a 10k race last year, fixing my teeth and leading a healthier, more stress-free life which I feel are suitable replacements.
In summary of the summary, (as I attempt to create a more logical voice in this blog, I’ll work on it) I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s really important to set goals. It’s a real achievement to actually say I did stand by my word and made my past-self proud. Dreams can come true, not because you started the steps towards it, but because you didn’t stop after the initial momentum and steam ran out.
Adulting 101: Nothing really happens overnight, even though on the surface it may look like it. You’re in it for the long haul and everything will take longer than you initially thought, but if you keep at it, you will definitely get there- if you genuinely wanted to get ‘there’.