The first time I went overseas on my own, I had just separated from my ex husband and was about to relocate to another city on my own. I’d just experienced a year of constant earthquakes, watched my home, city and marriage crumble, and I needed to run… In this particular fight or flight moment, I was all out of fight and needed a flight! A flight that would lead me somewhere that would allow me to be anonymous for a little while.
I chose a safe option of Melbourne. Australia and spent a few nights in a backpackers meeting new people and finding independence from the myriad of thoughts going on in my head. I needed time to reflect, time to unwind, time to make sense of the year that was. Most of all, I needed time alone, far far away from other peoples opinions and unsolicited advice. I spent my final night in Melbourne at the Stamford Hotel and treated myself to a night of luxury. I returned to New Zealand a week later, ready to move forward with my life and settled in a new city.
A year or so later I was in a new relationship and was living with him. This was my first relationship with someone of a different culture, a culture that didn’t support or a encourage a woman’s independence. I struggled with this a lot and while I wanted to make it work, I needed some time and space away from him in order to make some important decisions about my future and whether I wanted that future to include him. Again, I turned to travel and booked flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. This was my first time in a different continent and it was a very challenging and confronting experience. These experiences helped me regain the confidence and self esteem that got lost during these broken relationships, and gave me the insights I needed to make the right decision about the future of our relationship. We broke up a few weeks later.
The following year, the company I was working for underwent a large restructure which resulted in redundancy. This situation really broke me. Suddenly, everything I was working hard for and what felt like the only stable aspect of my life had been taken from me. I received a large redundancy payment, sold almost everything I owned and I left New Zealand with no return ticket. I traveled throughout South East Asia for 3 months and when the money started to run out, I returned home. While I was away, I spent time thinking about what I really want out of life. What do I want in a career? What do I want in a relationship? What do I need to do to make these things happen? Once I returned home, I enrolled in University as an extramural student (I don’t have a degree and entered the workforce directly after High School) and after starting in the first job I could get, I kept applying for the kind of job I really wanted and didn’t give up until I got it.
As my 30th birthday was nearing, I decided that I wanted to celebrate at the top of the tallest building in the world. I wanted to take time to reflect on my life, my achievements, my challenges and the failures/heartbreak I’d experienced along the way. Again, I needed time to myself to explore my mind and gain a broader perspective. On this trip, I went to Bali, Singapore, UAE, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia. I took my Uni studies with me on that trip and continued to take on new challenges, learn more about the world and this time after 30 years of self loathing I learned to be kind to myself. It was on this trip that I finally started recognising my worth.
Last year, my studies were going well and I had taken on a 3 month secondment for a job that I’d been striving for. I told myself that if I was made permanent in that role, I would go to Kuwait. If I wasn’t made permanent, I would go to Brunei. So either way, I was going somewhere new to admire some incredible architecture. Lucky for me, I got the job and quickly started planning my trip back to the Middle East. On this trip, I needed to let go of some heavy emotional baggage that had been weighing me down, and in my airbnb condo in Manila I got hideously drunk and cried. I cried for my loss, I cried for the mistakes I made and I cried until my tear banks were depleted. From that moment on, I vowed to never treat myself so badly and to believe in myself.
In 8 more sleeps, I’m off again. This time to Thailand, Russia. Oman, Qatar, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. And of course I have an agenda for the emotional and mental challenges that I need to explore and address. My focus this time is to learn to love again. I’ve dealt with my past and the brokenness that wore me down. Now I need to map out some personal goals and think about the men in my life and what I want in a future husband.
Travel isn’t all parties and sunsets, there’s a whole lot of personal growth that goes on too. It’s probably cheaper for me to pay for actual therapy, but I feel like this is a far more effective option for me. Bring on the next adventure!