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Into the wild. Against the stream. The road less taken. No matter what I refer to my decision to venture overseas as, it can’t be made any less mind opening, challenging and life changing.

I recall the times I sat in my office looking outside at the sun. Feeling the agitation in my restlessness. Wishing my day allowed more time for nature.

I recall the times I would feel under appreciated for how hard I was trying. Early mornings, late nights, the contribution of ideas were often unnoticed.

I recall the times that what I did accomplish at my job, wasn’t anything I felt proud to tell others about. From early childhood I had a fascination with heroes. As I grew older I learned you don’t need a cape or physical strength to make that difference.

I recall the times I consoled myself by remembering that there are others worse off than me. This made me feel obligated to do something where I could, and when I did, I enjoyed it. From working with youth organisations and at a hospital.

I recall the times, even with the things I had, my life had felt like it was taking place in a snow globe, without the snow.

Growing up in the same area for my whole life, although a place of enormous privilege in contrast to where I am now, in ways, such as through the lack of variety, it was becoming a prison.

Largely inspired by buddhism, I always appreciated Buddha’s decisions to live a life void the pleasures he once knew and took for granted. Having both parents come from less developed countries, as much as I was told that I have a good life, I never understood life being any different given I was born into a country privilege such as Australia.

Similarly inspiring was  Christopher Mc Candles and the movie/book Into  The Wild which details his decision to escape modern / routine life and live amongst nature.

I don’t claim to be saint, I love the indulge, but I also have an interest in personal and spiritual development. For this reason I could relate to the decision made by both Mc Candles and Buddha and often fantasised about ‘escaping’.

It may just be part of the human condition, but even with a daily practice which involved expressing gratitude through my writing, I still felt like I was sleep walking at times. Going through life on auto pilot, missing the beauty in the everyday and everything.

With the diverse and ‘out there’ personality I had, my working life was also rather bland in comparision.  Being unemployed, running out of funds, I was also running out of options. The burden on my shoulder to be ‘successful’ was gaining weight and I was losing sleep. It was a rough period of my life.

On my last birthday in October , almost handed by fate, I was given the opportunity to take a role in Tonga through a Government funded program.  There certainly was a debate wether to accept the position, but quoting the last words I said to my mother before leaving, I knew in more ways than one, “this will be good for me”.

I was familiar with the saying “there is no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone”.

So here I am, uncomfortable. Very. The mattress is sinking as I sleep, the showers provide no more than single drops of water at a time. The food is heavily starch based, processed and fried. Making the 50% obesity rate expected, but still extremely saddening to see.The sun burns and the insects bite. Time seems to be moving at a frustratingly slow pace, and the condition of standard infrastructure and facilities is a reminder of what a developing country is.

But in contrast to someone who has known these conditions all their life as home and feels rather happy in them. I’m already feeling the change.

I’m already gaining an appreciation of what I do have back home. What and who is the most important to me.  I also feel without my environment, I’ll find out which aspects of my character and personality are internally based rather than dependent of where I am, what I have, or who I am with.

I feel my mind opening to accept other cultures and ways of life. The youth I know back home have iPads and Facebook accounts. Here I’ve met kids who are happy spending their leisure time doing flips off jetties. Families don’t work overtime, they spend time how they wish, because that’s how life is. Having grown up in a large city, I don’t think I’ll ever lose my ‘rat race’ and growth orientated mentality, but I hope to loosen up and remodel my concept of ‘happiness’.

Lastly, I sought to put my name onto something I could not only be proud of, but that would open career opportunities for me based around positive contributions and social / developmental change.

This blog has allowed me to take that responsibility on in my personal life, but work wise, there is an educational organisation here that has asked for someone with my skill-set, so I will do my best to improve their capacity and contribute.

The pacific islands are known as holiday locations, and i’ll certainly get the escape from my familiar town and regular routine.  However, beyond the blue sky and beach, lies a series of challenges. Making new friends, new hobbies, new foods, learning a new language, new customs, basically living a new life without the support of friends and family which I honestly feel I’ve leant on too much at times.

The strength of a species is found in its ability to adapt so that is what I’ll have to do, and find out how strong I am in the process.

Tags : community aideat pray lovehappinessinternational aidjourneylife changeMotivationsouth pacificspirtualitytongatravelvolunteering

9 Comments

  1. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. It must be amazing to see yourself grow and appreciate things that we take for granted. “Going through life on auto pilot, missing the beauty in the everyday and everything.” oohhh..how many of us have made this a permanent aspect of our lives. Truly great to be read about your journey.

    Im going to have to read this a lot more over the couple of months – Im quitting work, selling my stuff and moving overseas for a year (or 10..or forever).Wrapping up my 9 years here. I am so freaked out (x10,000) but I know I had started to lose resilience to manage life’s ups and downs and I told myself it was time to take myself waaaay out of my comfort zone to find my strength, to open up myself and learn more. Yikes! 🙂 I’ll be reading your posts a lot as the time to leave gets closer.

  2. Thanks Lily. Keep me updated.

    It sounds like a big decision, but I’m sure in ways you don’t expect, it will be worth it.

    It’s not always going to be easy, but why would we want that.

    My lovely co-worker said it beautifully today when I asked about the culture here.

    “we don’t have a lot, but we are always happy for what we do have”

    I replied ..

    “and we don’t have that in the west”

    tell me more about the wrap up of 9 years ? Where will you be going etc and doing what ?

    there are many organisations which have be able to help you make the move or provide a chance to use your skills in a positive way

    1. Heya!

      Ah yes, isnt that amazing? To be happy for what we do have. That is brilliant, that takes great courage and real appreciation of the bright and dark days. Its great that you are spending time with people like that. What an adventure you are going to have!

      Yeah, I hope it will be worth it. Actually, no, I KNOW it will be. I was telling a friend the other day that even at its worse, I would have traveled, met amazing people and grown a hell lot. Anything on top would be icing on the cake.

      Well, 9 years in Melbs (I arrived as a wee-21yr old) and Im quitting a job I LOVE, friends I have made to move to Europe. Its something I have been wanting to do for years but circumstances havent allowed me. Im hoping to head off in May. I have no job to to go but I think thats me pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I want to travel but also volunteer in not-for-profit organisations as I travel (I have spent several years here in the NFP sector, love it, cant imagine in any other sector). And maybe on my way back, a couple of months volunteering in Africa and Cambodia…BUT..lets see where life takes me.

      I think the wrap up is hard because Melbourne is where I grew up – came face to face with my depression and anxiety,whilst struggling to keep myself here and working and productive. It has made me who I am, it is home. So it’ll be very sad to leave but it’ll always be home (the one where my heart is). But I need to go, I need to do this, I need to feel a bit of agony to toughen up. And to appreciate having what I will always have.

      I read this on Tiny Buddha today “Finish your duties here and step into the unknown world. You never know what you might discover. You should be out there seeing the world and helping people with your beautiful smile and kind soul.” I think it is my sign 🙂

      Id love to know more about these organisations you are talking about. I wonder if I can help them while in Europe??

      Keep us posted on your trip. Always great to read 🙂

      Cheers
      Lily.

      1. Sounds like a big decision. Where are you originally from before Melb ? I think where we grow up has a big impact on us too.

        Also interested to know about you NFP work in Melb. I’m not sure where I will want to work in Aus after this .. or another country. I plan to visit NZ in July, depending how that is. I may try to work there after my time in Tonga. You just never know where the road will lead once you get a feel for the way the wind blows.

        There is a saying, i would rather the darkness i know than the darkness I don’t.

        Don’t be afraid of taking chances, but make them calculated.

  3. Im from India but I lived in the Middle East as a teenager before moving to Australia after high school. Its been amazing growing up all over the place, it gives me a great deal of cultural awareness and Im very adaptable. Sometimes hard not to have any family here though.

    I think if you wanted to work in NFP, Melbourne is great! So many amazing organisations to work for and they are doing really well. But if you got something overseas, that would be brilliant too. Im not sure of NZ and what the NFPs there are like. Im actually heading to NZ for a week at the end of this month. What about somewhere in Asia or Africa? I work for a children’s charity here in Marketing – we help DHS with foster care placements, disabled kids and young adults that dont fit into the regular school system. I work with a passionate bunch of people with very kind hearts!

    Yes, this decision took a while. A lot of internal consultation + consultation with family and friends for over a year before I made the decision. I knew I had to save up enough, make plans and learn a new language before I moved. Its still all a bit scary but Im just going to have to jump. I know in the worst possible circumstance, I am back here in 3 months and I start over. Still not too terrible, I think.

    1. I’m Sri Lankan and work in Marketing ! Law of attraction in the works here ?

      Melbourne is definitely a consideration I think, it wasn’t before but only 1 week away has opened my mind up to possibilities. When I’m back to aus your input on melb would be highly valued, so stay in touch !

      There is a Boy Under the Bridge Facebook page too, you can send PM’s to that anytime 🙂

      Worst possible scenarios always help. There is a big difference between our minds and the reality of them. I feel a bit of them at the moment as i’m still adjusting, but the people i’ve been meeting and their passion / energy are making a massive difference.

      Proud of your bravery in the situation.

      You’ve come fair way since mr whats-his-face wasn’t replying your messages. Told you that you would forget soon enough 🙂

      1. Thats so cool! You are in Marketing too and from the same region. Thats nice!

        Sure, more than happy to provide a few tips if you choose Melbourne as your new home. It is a beautiful city. Im a Melbournian at heart so I might be biased 🙂 Also great to hear that you are enjoying your time there – always such an amazing experience meeting new people and learning from other cultures. I hope you feel increasingly comfortable and open to all the amazing things your trip will bring.

        Haha! I dont know, I had a big cry session about whats-his-face just last night. So Im still a while away from being ok, further from forgetting. At the moment, I am between sad-angry-disappointed-think its all unfair-sad…but thats ok, that just how life and heart-disappointments go.

        Thanks 🙂 Ive been told by several people that Im very brave and daring, it doesnt feel so at the moment but I usually look back and know that I have shown great courage.

        Im not on FB but I’ll stay in touch!

        Cheers
        Lily.

        1. I have been there three times. In 2011 for Eminem, and then early 2013 for a cousins wedding. Actually woke up the next morning and got my finger tattooed with the word ‘maktub’ from the book The Alchemist. If you haven’t read it, go down to your local book store and get a copy ! Very related to this stage of your life.

          Sometimes things from the past / recent wounds split open when in general things are rough. Like this big decision your making probably has you under a fair bit of stress, making re-injury more probable.

          I’ve got 100 books on my kindle to read for inspiration so I’m sure there will be more content coming along with my own experience to write about.

          But do stay in touch 🙂 and keep me updated

        2. Hi Lily,

          Not sure if you still drop in time to time, but I wanted to let you know I got my job in the non-profit industry. I’ll be moving to Sydney in a few weeks. I’m both scared and excited. I hope you made it overseas!

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