DL: Are you going to have a hashtag?
Me: *wrinkles nose* No… too much work
DL: Oh come on, you have to! How else will we follow your travels?
Me: No. Too lazy
And that, my friends, is how #onelifechangingyear came to be. My dear friend DL planted this seed in my head that stayed with me for weeks until I came up with the perfect hashtag. A hashtag that had yet to be claimed and a name that is reflective of my upcoming adventures.
It will indeed be one life changing year as I spend my time travelling around Asia. Living overseas to experience life outside of Canada was the original dream, but it has now evolved into perpetual travel. Well, just for a year or so.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
I must have come across Les Brown’s famous words at a young age because I have been dreaming without boundaries for as long as I can remember. And I’m lucky to have parents who are supportive of my nontypical thinking. As a child, I’d share my crazy ideas with my dad, to which he said “You can do whatever it takes to make you happy as long as you try. If you don’t, then you’re squandering the privilege you have by being born in Canada and wasting your potential. So just try, it’s ok. But FIRST, get a proper education and build a good career. You need financial stability because, without that, you have limited choices. Everything else, do it on the side but focus on those two things”.
So I took his advice
I followed societal norms and expectations to a T, studied like there was no tomorrow and got my designation. But the whole time, I had this romantic notion of living in Australia for a year. And it was very much within my reach, especially since my designation is recognized in Australia.
Did everything as expected
Lived life by the script and worked like a maniac while studying during almost every free time that I had.
One day, some day, I told myself. I quietly went back to my usual routine while intermittently reminding myself of my dream.
One day… someday.
Over time, that some day became the day after I finish my studies.
When I completed my studies, it became the day after I work a few more years to build up my resume.
But then I had issues as a tenant and needed stability in my life. I was tired of living a transient life where I bought furniture based on ease of reselling (Hi Ikea) when it came time to move. Because I moved around a lot in that period in my life. Eight times to be exact, in less than a decade.
I’ll never forget the first day in my home. Finally, a physical place to call mine! I was so happy and so excited that I ignored that lingering voice inside my head as I lay on the ground of my empty condo. What about your dream? What does this mean for your dream?
I brushed it aside and continued with my life. What’s meant to be will find a way. That was my excuse.
But then I cracked over time…
On the outside, my life couldn’t seem more flawless. But on the inside, I was losing my identity and could barely recognize myself. My life seemed so perfect, but I didn’t want perfection. I wanted to be free, to feel free. I wanted what I had always wanted. Just a short period in my life to wander, explore, learn and feel small in this magnificent universe. You know that feeling when you watch the waves crash in a hypnotic flow? Or when you look up into the sky and see a gazillion twinkling stars? And when you start to think of the age of each star, you realize how insignificant you are? Yeah… that feeling. That’s what I call feeling small. It’s the most powerful and humbling feeling in the world. That is what I love most. That is when I feel alive.
But instead, I was following what others expected of me. It’s not even their dream, just their expectations.
For more than a year, I woke up every day with one thought; my life is not my own.
Travelling was my wake up call from the autopilot life
Gary and I booked an impromptu trip to Iceland with some friends. It was very last minute, and I had no expectations at all about the mini vacation. What I didn’t realize was how alive I felt throughout the trip. Was it from seeing the magical Northern Lights for the first time? Was it because I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? I don’t know what it was; all I remember was crying my eyes out while listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast on my way home from Iceland. I knew something in my life needed to change. And I needed to take action because I was miserable.
That thought was the beginning of the journey of pursuing my dream.
Up until this point, I had done everything that others have expected of me. Made my job happy, made my parents proud. But just this once, just this year, I want to do something that makes me super duper happy. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just one year.
What is your dream?
As I slowly opened up to people about my dream (or my One Life Changing Year Project, as I now call it), I had an array of responses, ranging from “You’re crazy” to “I admire you.” What stood out to me is the number of people who shared their deepest dreams and what holds them back from chasing after what they want in their heart.
Most of the time, it is fear that prevents them from chasing after their dream. Fear of failure, fear of what other people will think of them, fear of not knowing where to start.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t stop dreaming. If it warms your heart and the thought of it puts a smile on your face, take my father’s advice.
Try. Just try.
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