Your Story is a series by WonderfulWomen where you will read inspiring Guest Posts from women around the world. Here they share their experiences, stories and things that matter most to all women.
Today’s guest post is by Jo from YouChooseTheWay.com. Jo is a nature-loving adventurer with a passion for words (both writing and reading them) and living life to the max. She loves encouraging others to see the beauty in getting off the beaten path and find their own authentic trail. You can find some of her ideas and tips for living authentically on her blog! Read the journey of her life to unleash the free-spirited adventure loving girl in you!
Finding my Place
I can remember the moment I realized that I didn’t want to stay in my hometown after I finished school. I was 16 and had just gone to Mexico for a week on a family holiday. This was the type of holiday Canadians regularly do mid-winter to remind themselves of the beauty of the sunshine. The trip did help me defrosted a bit, but something much more important than what happened. I got my first bite of the travel bug.
According to plan, when I was 22, and done school, I left. It originally started as a short-term adventure plan: I’d go live in X place for a year or so, I’d find a job and a short-term home and hang out a while. I’d have fun and see the world a bit, then I’d go back home to start “real life”. Well, as you can imagine, things didn’t go according to plan. The gallivanting just kept happening. After coming home from my adventure in X place, I then moved to Y place for a little while, then I randomly found work in Z place. Next thing you know, it’s 10 years down the road and I’m still not settled back home with the white picket fence that as a child I thought awaited me.
Growing up in the suburbs, I always felt like the default path (finish school, get a job, get married, buy a big house…) wouldn’t fit in my life somehow. Even when I was too young to know what that meant, I knew I needed to live a different type of life. In my 20s, I struggled with this a lot. I had been convinced that no matter how much wandering I did, that I some point, I had to get on the conventional path and do things as they are done. So instead of fighting that, I searched and searched for a place where conventionality might not feel so wrong for me.
I searched high and low, big cities, small towns, touristy places, isolated nooks and everything in between. Nothing drew me in. As a rolled into my 30s it started to become clear to me that something about this search wasn’t right Although it felt pretty clear that I was looking for a place to call home, it seemed as though some of the parameters that dictated my search that were a bit off. I was looking for a place that would get me excited about settling down, but maybe what needed rethinking was what settling down meant to me.
I had only ever known settling down to mean the big, fancy wedding, the 2.1 kids, the big house, the white fence and the fancy job. I hadn’t ever considered if there were other ways of doing it. I started realizing that my issue wasn’t that I couldn’t find a place I’d like to stay and live in for a while, but what I expected myself to do in this place was the problem. I didn’t want a fence, I’m not into big houses and I’m really not a fancy-job kind of girl. Some aspects of conventionality made me feel squeezed into a box that I didn’t fit into.
Slowly, I started to rethink what settling down meant for me. And this time, I’d let myself think as far outside the box as required. If I was going to find a place for myself in this world, it would really help to have a better understanding of the type of life I was looking to build. The funny thing is that as soon as I had this realization, life naturally started settling into a new version of itself. It’s like if once I realized that settling didn’t have to be what I had always thought it was, then it didn’t seem so distant from my own world. The main difference was that now, I was 100% in charge. My life would be built my way.
Four years later, I’m the most “settled” version of myself I’ve ever been! I now realize that my disinterest in settling wasn’t ever really about loving travel and adventure (like I thought I was, although I do), but rather not wanting to compromise on the type of life I was looking to create. I want to live my life, my way. So now, that’s what I try to do. Every day I try to live as authentically as I can. That doesn’t mean avoiding buying a home or having a family if that’s what I decide I want. But the important thing is consciously deciding that those are things I am actually excited about doing, instead of just doing them by default.
I feel like I’ve now found the place I was looking for, and it’s been right here all along. Feeling home and in the right place, is now something I find within. The adventure is now about making my life as in line with my dreams as possible.
Connect with Josee
Her Blog youchoosetheway.com