For a year, I’ve been posting about the wonderful places I’ve visited, the nice people I’ve met, and about how much fun I’m having. That’s the beauty of having your own blog. You can post anything you want while leaving out any details you choose. This blog is not like the others. It's not about my latest adventure, country visited or funny story. It is, however, honest. Despite popular belief, a year of travel is not all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes life gets in the way.
I try to be the person in my emails, social media posts, and blogs who’s stubbornly independent and infinitely fearless. Sometimes I even succeed. But it’s easier said than done. The fact that I've not been happy every day of the last year may come as a surprise to those who follow my blog or social media feeds. After all, I am on an adventure of a lifetime. I’m in good health. I have enough money. I don’t have to work. I decide where I go and what I do. What could I possibly have to be sad about? So when I’m feeling lost or sad, I also feel incredibly guilty. For that reason, I rarely admit it to anyone.
However, arriving in New Zealand brought with it a new low. After months and months in the sunshine, Wellington's spring rain and wind sent a chill into my bones that I had long forgotten. It didn't help that the day after I arrived, the country suffered a major earthquake closing stores, restaurants and buildings for weeks (I swear it wasn't my fault!). I also quickly realized that even though I had arrived in New Zealand, my heart was still in Australia. I missed people who had made my three months in Australia so memorable. I started to question whether I should carry out my original plan - stay in New Zealand to work - just for the sake of being independent - or should I go see the sights and then book it back to the place and people that made me so happy? Thanks to changes to the Australian working visa this fall, working in Australia was now an option for me. Moreover, New Zealand was the last country of my original trip plan. For the first time, I had no plan. While I knew I didn't want to go back to Canada, I had no idea where I should go.
Don’t get me wrong. I've done so many fun and exciting things this year. I have travelled to ten countries – all but two were completely new to me. I have learned to scuba dive and have even become a Dive Master – something I never would have believed I'd do a year ago. I’ve gone to many of the most amazing and remote dive sites in the world. I have tubed down a river, repelled down a canyon, and rafted down rapids. I’ve watched the sun rise from the top of a volcano and I’ve seen it slip behind the ocean’s horizon. I’ve sipped cocktails by myself in a hammock, with old friends now living abroad, and with new friends who were once just strangers at a bar. I've surveyed incredible shipwrecks, toured museums that moved me to tears, surfed the sea, skydived over a crater, bungeed from a bridge, sailed down a sand dune, and visited many beautiful vineyards. I even got to share part of my adventure with my parents. As my bucket list gets shorter, there's no question that my collection of wonderful memories gets longer.
Even still, all of this has seemed meaningless at times. While I’ve been searching for adventure, I’m not afraid to admit that, yes, I’ve also been keeping an eye open for that elusive thing called “love”. I'm not looking for mere company. I have plenty of friends and quite frankly, I like my alone time. I'm comfortable in my own skin and I'd rather not waste my time on people who have no intent to stay. But after a long day spent alone and feeling a little lost, it's hard to stay positive about solo travel, trying a new food, and conquering the latest extreme sport. They seem pretty trivial compared to finding someone I can trust with my heart.
At 32, I think I'm a good judge of character. But time after time, I continue to be Iet down. It’s incredibly unnerving when you think you’ve really connected with someone, only to realize that the feelings aren't mutual or at least, aren't strong enough to make it worth the effort of a relationship with you. Now I know everyone has an inspirational quote on their fingertips to make me feel better - "When it's meant to be, it will be", "don't settle", "the right person is out there for you", or "you deserve better" - but please refrain from leaving them in the Comments section below as they make for poor plasters. To make matters worse, I don’t love by halves. I never have and I can't start now. It's not who I am. I’m picky about who I let in but when I do, I make them a priority. It's a blessing and a curse. Inevitably, I am left incredibly exposed and easily hurt. Just once, I'd like to be loved just as I love. It's at these times that my backpack feels a little heavier, the temperature a little colder, and the rain drops a little bigger.
So when I don't know what I'm doing or where I should go, I just do what I know how to do so well. I adjust my straps, zip up my sweater, and pull up the hood of my raincoat. I book one spot on the next dive trip or a single airline ticket to the next country. I request a table for one and apply for a job in any country my heart desires. I post photos or recount the times when I'm happy and I try not to feel guilty about the times when I'm not. I may not always have a plan or a partner but whenever these things get me down, I can always go jump off a bridge and remind myself of how lucky I am to be really, and truly, alive!