“Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” – Paulo Coelho
Traveling opens your eyes to new possibilities, empowers you with an abundance of confidence and social skills, and forces you to become self sufficient. My travels have helped me gain focus on who I want to be and what I want to do in my life. This is how traveling helped me get my shit together, finally.
When I was young, my stepmother asked me to write down what I wanted to be. She said, “Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to do?’ Then write it down. First, write it out on a whole page. Then, write it again in a paragraph. Keep writing it over and over again until you have one sentence.” I wrote, “Travel the World and Make Art”.
Over the years, however, I became lost.
In 2009, I graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Fine Arts Photography and Digital Arts. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a Photographer, an Illustrator, or a Writer. I felt like I had to chose just one and allow it to define me as a person. I felt trapped trying to decide between them, and completely and utterly lost. Then, the market crashed.
People started losing their houses, their jobs, everything. I had literally just graduated, and students were being told to stay in school for as long as they could, to wait it out and hopefully be able to find a job in a few years. The only job prospects I found were unpaid internships, but with student loans to pay I had to find work. So I floated around, directionless.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
After a year working without any sense of purpose in life, something inside me finally woke up. I decided right then and there to buy a one way plane ticket to Thailand. I saved all that I could, left behind my amazing house, boyfriend, and life to find what I was looking for.
I had about $200 in my pocket when I started as an English teacher in Thailand. For two and a half years, I taught the cutest kids in the world how to speak English by playing games and singing silly songs. In my time off, I traveled throughout Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. As a solo female traveler I never felt so empowered in my life. I felt like I could do Anything! Still, something was missing. I wanted to utilise my degree that I had spent over $40,000 for in student loans. I wanted to travel and make art.
With a bag full of hippie clothes and my accordion, I set out on a trip that would change the course of my life, on a mere whim. It’s funny how sometimes, if you just make that giant leap of faith, things work out in the end. I didn’t know where I would work or live, I just went for it. Something about Australia was calling to me, I felt it down in my very bones. All I knew was that I had to go, so I cast the pebble and watched the ripples start to expand.
In Australia, I met other “Creatives” who opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility! People who were just as overly ambitious as I was, and brimming with far more talents than having “just one”. I slowly realised that I too could work as a Freelance Creative, doing all three of my passions- Photography, Illustration and Travel Blogging. I didn’t have to choose between them, in fact, a lot of jobs preferred employees who could do a bit of everything.
In fact, I found out that most Australians usually take a gap year to go traveling in between high school and university, or sometimes just in between jobs. It’s almost like a right of passage for most Aussies, and living here has made me realise just how many people in the United States never travel. Most of us don’t even own a passport! As a nation, I think we could probably benefit the most from traveling. If not for our entire country, than just for ourselves.
Here in Australia, I realised that I could pursue all of my talents – but that meant I had to get serious. Actually get my shit together and work three times harder than before. I had to stop daydreaming about what I wanted to do, and actually go out there and do it!
I started working as a Wedding Photographer, documenting couple’s in love and various Destination Weddings. I also started illustrating Children’s Books, designing logos and stationary, and working on my first full-length travel comics, Love and Travel. And I started writing this travel blog, Destination Artist. All while working a full time job to pay the bills and allow me to travel.
Most days I’m up at 5am to work on a blog post or illustration for a client. My days off, I can usually be found editing a wedding or photographing a maternity session. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I’m determined now more than ever to continue traveling the world and making art along the way. Traveling taught me how to be confident once more, helped me find focus and new opportunities that I might not otherwise have had. There is a whole world of possibilities out there, all you have to do is go out there and make it happen.
“Every Morning You Have Two Choices: Continue To Sleep With Your Dreams, Or Wake Up and Chase Them.” -Carmelo Anthony
Traveling has opened my eyes to what I want to do in life and helped me finally get my shit together. I no longer feel lost, wondering who or what I want to be. I am just me, a creative artist and writer exploring the World, one day at a time.
Has traveling helped you focus on what you want to do in life? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below!