From a young age, I had my future mapped out in the stars. I was going to graduate from a prestigious university with a degree in journalism and write for a national newspaper in a big city like London or New York.
As my meticulous plan came to fruition, it soon became apparent that the stars were not mapped by destiny, but by the unimaginable pressure to live my life according to other’s expectations. After my first year studying journalism at the University of Sheffield, I realised I had been playing a part in an existence I did not want to live. A future I believed was my purpose in this world was one I no longer desired.
After quitting university, my life was thrown into turmoil. For the first time since I was 15, I had no purpose. I found myself mind-numbingly depressed, jobless and stuck in a toxic relationship that my whole life was financially and emotionally dependent on. My stars had faded into the darkness along with the fire in my belly.
I was entirely unaware that my destiny had not vanished and my fire had not been extinguished. My destiny was never divine, but that of my own choosing. Less than a year later, I had become committed to finding my own success, to writing my own story. That’s why I decided to leave everything behind, travel the world and then move to New Zealand, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
By November 2017 I had worked at an Australian themed bar for 7 months and entered
into a new, non-toxic relationship with my current boyfriend. A South African born New Zealand citizen, he had come to England with the plan of travelling and rock-climbing his way around Europe. Days before I turned 21 we had quit our full-time jobs and planned a 3 week trip to Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges and Paris.
Afterwards, we returned to England with the plan of moving to York, with some bar jobs lined up. We packed what little we could carry on a train and blissfully contemplated having a fresh start in a town we loved. During that moment something struck us almost simultaneously. We came to the bleak realisation that we were not using those bags to cross borders and create experiences, but to return to the mundanities of everyday life. So in rejection of monotony, we turned down those jobs and spent the next few days planning a 2-month long trip.
We had 2 thousand pounds each to spend on accommodation, transportation, food and sightseeing. We sacrificed our privacy by staying in dorms, ate sandwiches for every other meal
and boarded 9-hour buses between cities just to save a few euros. We wanted to see as much as we could with the limited budget and time we had. It was exhausting, frustrating and tested every aspect of our burgeoning relationship. We experienced more in those 2 months than many couples – or individuals – do in their lifetime.
We travelled to 14 cities in 9 European countries, spent two weeks in Florida with my family and then embarked on our final journey to our new home in New Zealand. It consisted of more than 20 hours on a plane, 8 hours sleeping on the floor of LAX and losing a day of our lives, but it was worth it.
We gave up the tumultuous backpacker lifestyle for a one bedroom apartment in the small town of Rotorua, homecooked meals and the sense of permanence that we once loathed. Our life is now settled and conventional but it is far from mundane.
I now live my life to repudiate every expectation set for me. The level of my formal education and size of my bank account does not define my success. Instead, it is the memories and experiences I have created for myself. The fire in my belly is as tenacious as ever and I long to suck out all the marrow of life.
I have chosen to share my life with someone who makes every moment an adventure. We avidly plan future trips and spend even our lazy days surrounded by the awe-inspiring nature our home has to offer.
My future is not mapped out in the stars, but unknown, and so inherently more exciting than anything I could envision. My life could not be more different than the one I had initially planned, but I would not give it up for anything.