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Published: November 30th 2014
At this stage of my travels, given the amount of photos I post on Facebook in which I appear to bouncing from one European country to another, I am understandably getting some questions from people in my life. The main is, how exactly are you doing all this travel?
Obviously, I'm not a millionaire. But I've learnt two simple, albeit highly important, things about how to live. The first: live more and have less.The second: if you want something bad enough, you'll make it happen. So, when I was home for three months in Australia after teaching in France over the European spring/summer, I realised I wanted to stay abroad. This wasn't going to happen magically and I knew I needed a way to support myself.
Not only did I work three jobs back home to save some money, I also set up a foolproof career path: freelance writing!
During my university days, I spent some time doing paid writing on the side. At this point I'll say that I am very grateful to find writing easy and enjoyable, it is a gift I don't take for granted. My whole
education speaks volume of how much I love writing: history, literature, English at high school; a Bachelor of Arts degree; and a postgraduate primary school teaching degree. And now writing has become not only a passion but a means of survival and a key to living the life I desire.
Freelance writing is my ultimate dream at this stage of my life: I am living abroad with no physical ties and able to control my schedule. Certainly, this takes self discipline and self-directed motivation. But the incentive is more than enough for me...I can literally go anywhere I want. I've found a dangerously appealing combination for my future: teaching English abroad and freelance writing.
The biggest challenge I find with living a writer's life is having credibility and conviction. With anything artsy, it is hard to have people take you seriously. I've always been a writer, but it's like a hidden part of myself that I've felt I needed to justify with a 'real job'. Freelance writing isn't forever, and perhaps it isn't a career. But for now it is all I need.
Now, what exactly do I write? I work
as a freelancer for a few different companies. Whatever the editor sends me in the brief, I write. Some articles are on a travel writing which I find easy to relate to. Others are marketing blogs with 'how to' information and handy tips. I think of this as common sense put into a blog, and I get paid for it. Basically, each article is different and there is no consistency to it. I love this and I love learning new information and presenting ideas in new writing styles. I am a ghost writer which means my name isn't published on anything, I write for someone else. This is fine with me, because like most writers I am my own worst critic. I like my work better with someone else's name on it.
So now a clearer picture of my current circumstances. I am living in Ireland on a house sitting assignment in the countryside on the west coast. Here, my American friend (also a writer) and myself are looking after the house and the two beautiful cats while the owner is away. And guess what...the owner of the house is a published author! If this isn't fate,
I don't know what is.
I've never had the confidence, time or space to feel that writing is a legitimate life direction. But now finally, for the next two months, it really can be. I'm incredibly grateful that I have found these circumstances and intend to make the most of my time here.
So, although it is winter (and my first real, cold winter!) Ireland feels like exactly the right place to be. I'm set for two months with days of writing, patting cats, drinking tea, reading books, and exploring the Irish countryside either cycling or hiking.
The thing when you make a big life decision is to ensure you won't regret it. Nothing about my life abroad is spontaneous or last minute. I've thought it through and weighed up the pros and cons. There are reasons why not every does what I'm doing, no matter how many times people always say 'I'm so jealous of your life!' I firmly believe that anyone could be doing something similar, if it's what they truly want.
The unfortunate truth of living abroad is that in order to have this, something
My American parrot
Best friends live crazy adventures together!
else must be given up. I miss my cat. I miss my dog and my horse. I miss my friends and family. I am traveling on 17 kilograms and the reality is that all my clothes fit in one drawer when unpacked.
It's not always glamorous and there are days of insane transit hours, like the 25 hour flight time to get from Australia to Ireland. Or going from Spain to Ireland and being on a bus, train and plane all in the one day. Sometimes exhaustion is painful and your eyes can barely focus, and there a moments where you have to accept that it is you who smells that bad. Your feet hurt from walking kilometres in un-sturdy shoes and there are nights you barely sleep because of noisy hostels or unclean beds.
But you learn to appreciate the little things, and eventually you just forget about the times that suck. Seeing the world is a beautiful thing and the people you meet on the road are often the best people in life.
Life abroad, whether long term or just for a holiday, requires compromise. Any life choice does, really. It's about balance and sacrifice and ultimately having courage in your own decisions and sense of direction.
But the most imperative factor I had to consider before going abroad again was this: where am I going to be the most happy with myself?
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