People do it all the time, if you think about it. They leave a perfectly comfortable lifestyle for one of great uncertainty. It could be relocating to a new city, a new job, going off to college. Or in my case, quitting my corporate PR job and moving across the world to Sydney, Australia.
Living in a foreign country had always been a dream of mine. And at twenty-seven years old, I figured it was about time to stop dreaming and start doing. I was at a job that required a lot of my time. Technology is a beautiful thing, but it also allows other people to constantly be able to get a hold of you. As much as I wanted to shut it off, I was getting to the point where I just couldn’t. I loved my job, my co-workers, but I needed to disconnect. My passion for travel was far outweighing my passion for a 9-whenever PR job. I could always come back to that. After 14 months of researching, planning, and saving, I set off on my adventure down under. I traded my publicist attire for a restaurant apron. My (not so) spacious Manhattan apartment for an even less spacious studio apartment that I shared with my travel buddy, Michelle. I traded an American winter for an Aussie summer, my hair straightener for no hair straightener, and an iPhone I was glued to 24/7 to limited access to Wi-Fi.
I am sure my family – as supportive as they were – thought I was nuts and slightly stupid for going when I had spent my first few years in the workforce living paycheck to paycheck. They would ask me – How will you pay for everything? What will you do about a job? And I would answer, in true Katie-form, I know what I am doing, stop asking me questions. I managed to save enough to get myself to Sydney, sublet an apartment for the first month, live comfortably for a few weeks without needing a job, and have some fun. I figured out the rest from there because I believe – wholeheartedly – that everything happens for a reason, that I would figure it all out. After all, I was going there to get away from stress, not bring it with me. And I did it – turning any doubters into believers.
I learned a lot about myself in Sydney, which surprised me because I thought I had myself all figured out. It took getting out of my comfort zone, learning to live in a new culture, and challenging myself to realize that I am never going to fully understand myself or my purpose unless I take advantage of these experiences. And now that I’ve been back in the states for a few months, I’ve realized that the best way to live is to surround yourself with people you love and who love you; to stand by people who support you and share the same values that you do; and to cheer for people when they do something outside of the box. By celebrating the small things, shutting off your phone and talking to people, taking vacations – long ones(!), eating great (and new) food, going on runs, taking naps, laughing and sharing stories, embracing your weirdness, being aware of your surroundings, making mistakes, having many role models, treating everyone the way you want to be treated, being appreciative, being patient, truly disconnecting, and living simply and happily, life is that much sweeter.
As much as my time in Australia was about finding myself, it would not have been what it was without the amazing people that I met. A group of individuals from around the globe who were in it together. Some of them I will never see again. Some may invite me to their weddings. Some I may travel with in the future. This is for you – Mike, Kylie, Cath, Belen, Matt, Sofia, Jackie, Sofi, Mica, Cass, Jess, Dan, Paul, Nancy, Cat and everyone else who made my 10 months in Australia the best decision I ever made. Thank you for being my team.
You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else.You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.
– Jamie Tworkowski