On my first big solo travelling adventure I was setting off to London. I’d been dreaming up ways to get to London for years, and finally I’d come up with a way to make it happen. Something that satisfied the rational, ever-achieving, achingly “good” part of my brain – and one that filled my soul.
I’d found a way to study abroad on a summer programme at the London School of Economics. The subject I was taking would contribute towards my Australian degree + put me in great stead for an honours programme at a big cool university.
But really, I just wanted to go to London.
The best part about my grand plan was that I had to be there for at least 6 weeks (it was a summer intensive subject). Which suited me just right!
I’m not entirely sure where the first seed was planted for my love interest in London, but by the time I had come up with this grand plan it had been years germinating in the ground. There was something magnetic about the promise of adventures, bustling cafes, a diverse mix of people, culture, foods and endless tiny country towns to explore by train.
My best friend from grade 1 lived over there and I hadn’t seen her for over 16 years (although we’d remained constant pen pals). I wanted that feeling of independence and adventure. I wanted to know what it felt like to ‘commute’, to ‘study’, to sit in coffee shops with my notebook and pens.
That decision, that plan, that experience has been a catalyst for so much transformation in my life. It showed me how possible things are when we are willing to get creative about how to bring them into our lives. It gave me a sense of power and strength in creating this journey entirely from scratch and being capable of all that it entailed. And, it showed me that sometimes, in amongst all the rationalising and logical analysing, actually the most critically important part of the process is that you always, always come back to your heart.
I remember calling my mum from the side streets of bustling Holborn in London, crying. The classes were tough. Completely out of my comfort zone and far from being an area of expertise for me. I’d chosen the class to satisfy some tick box requirements, but quickly came to realise it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need this type of learning to continue on the pathway that felt great to me at the time.
Yet, I’d committed. To the class. To following through. And I’d spent a lot of money to make it all happen. I felt like a complete failure!
At least, in my head, I felt like a failure. In my heart, I felt only pure joy. Like a friend tugging at my hand to come and play – joy was there guiding the way. Asking me to sit at the coffee shop at lunchtime and people-watch instead of stressing about studying for the exams. Asking me to delight in the exciting mixture of tiny tubs of ice-cream and mini Rolos I’d never seen before at the grocery store. Asking me to sit up for hours and hours talking to my dear friend, re-enacting scenes from Chicago, as if we’d never left each other’s side.
I chose joy. And I’m so grateful I did.
I let go of the need to ‘complete’ the exams and came home with the experience instead of the piece of paper.
And with that experience came so much more than I could have wished for. To this day fragments of that time remind me to come home to myself. To enjoy what is in front of me. To follow my joy. To trust in my heart’s calling.
Those 6 weeks created the past 8.5 years – where I called London home, and where I fulfilled what felt like a lifelong dream.
Maybe I never needed that complicated advanced macroeconomics class to show me the way to my dreams. Maybe what I really needed was my dreams to show me the way to my heart.
Are you holding out on your heart right now? How could you soften today? Let those tears run free and choose joy. I promise you, there are profound experiences and possibilities waiting for you when you do.