A Letter to A Distant Dreamer

distant dreamer

Dear Wandering Soul,

You’ve drifted a long ways. All the way from the coast of Florida to the shores of Auckland, New Zealand. You’ve stepped off the plane, taken a look around, and begun to soak in your new surroundings. You’re on your own, but this is nothing new. Solo travel has been your thing for years now – almost your entire twenties in fact – and you make friends quite easily. This is no different.

Except that it is.

You haven’t realized it yet, but you’re not the same person. That girl who returned from Australia in March 2013 is not the same girl who took off half way around the world again in October 2014. There’s been a subtle shift, one hardly recognizable, but there all the same.

The thirst for adventure is alive and well, but your tastes have become more refined. You thought your dreams lay in a far away land… but your intuition is telling you otherwise. It’s not that you hate it; it’s actually quite lovely. But your heart’s not in it.

No longer do you have the desire to strap your meager belongings to your back and truck off to shared accommodations. Not that you were ever a backpacker, even in your younger years. You have an affinity for your creature comforts and that’s okay.

It’s that little voice. It’s telling you you’re in the wrong place.

It will creep up slowly, whispering in your ear that something isn’t right. You’re chasing the wrong dream. You see, the 18 months spent in Florida was not just a little downtime between trips. You worked hard, and built a brand new career for yourself, one that was just starting to take off and show promise. You put it on hold, and why?

It’s not that you can’t write in New Zealand, because you can. And it’s not that you aren’t capable of sticking it out and adjusting, because you are. You are independent, and talented, and perfectly able to carve out a niche for yourself anywhere you choose to.

You are also wise enough to know quickly when something doesn’t feel right, and strong enough to make the necessary decisions. You’re going to realize that the thrill of a new destination is not enough – you need a purpose.

So you’re going to leave Auckland, after a mere three weeks. You’re going to board a plane for another long flight far sooner than you ever expected.

And for the very first time since you donned the label of “expat,” you’re going to recognize in yourself a sentiment of so many who went before you:

It’s time to go home.

So you do.

  • Wow, how great that you’re so intune with yourself that you knew it was better to leave than stay. Sometimes it’s so hard to figure out whether you’re uncomfortable because you’re scared or you’re uncomfortable because you’re not following the right path; it seems like all your years of traveling and independence have prepared you to tell the difference.

    • Thank you Shannon!! I am grateful to be in tune with myself enough to recognize the difference between just having an adjustment period and not feeling it. I know that coming home and picking up the projects I left behind is the right decision, and I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds!!

  • LC Yamaoka

    Oh wow Amy, too bad it didn’t work out but even better you were able to recognize it wasn’t right. Very wise and look forward to following wherever you go because I know it will be great and full of heart. Cheers.

    • It was beautiful and the people were gorgeous, but I started to feel like I’d put so many opportunities I’d worked so hard for on hold, and that just didn’t make sense!! It certainly wasn’t New Zealand itself – I’m dying to go back one day – now just isn’t the right time. Nothing wrong with that! 🙂

  • I’m so sad NZ wasn’t for you, but super proud of you for recognising that it wasn’t. It’s so hard to figure out what you want in life, but it’s always an adventure figuring it out.

    • You know, if I would have gone straight away after Australia, or even a few years ago, I would have been in a different place. I think I’ve just used up all the energy I have to try and immigrate without a clear job at the other end lol. I so want to go back one day as a visitor, when I can tour around and relax and have an amazing time without the pressure of where my next paycheck will be from!

      • Yeah, as much as I’m still up for new adventures, I like stability to come back to after not having it for so many years!

        • I’m up for new adventures for sure, but that stability is key! And as I look back, most of my travels had an element of stability – I had an apartment overseas, had a home base, etc. I’m sure I could have set that up in NZ, but it’s always so sad to get just settled and then leave again. I will be back though, mark my words! 🙂

  • Wow. Great note, Amy. Life is too short to spend it somewhere and doing something not right for you.

    • Call it a learning experience if you will, and I learned more in 3 weeks than I could have ever possibly imagined!! New Zealand was amazing, and when I make it back there as a tourist or an established travel writer, I’m sure I will have an absolutely fabulous time! 😉

  • Props to you! You would have never known it wasn’t right for you if you hadn’t gone in the first place. On to the next adventure!

    • Thanks Vicki!! Can’t force what doesn’t feel right, and yes, on to the next adventure for sure! Even if it means I’ll be Stateside for a bit now lol. Only good things are going to come of this! 🙂

  • Aww, Amy! I’m happy you spend what little time you did enjoying New Zealand and that you knew yourself well enough to know when something wasn’t working out. Too often I think we hold onto certain dreams that were formed a while ago and never do we stop to reevaluate how we’ve changed. Excited to hear what’s next!

    • I did enjoy the time I had there – it’s a beautiful country and the people are so incredible. If I had tried it several years ago, I’m sure it would have gone differently. I just don’t have the energy for the backpacker lifestyle now. But I don’t have any intention to stop traveling!! And I’m sure I’ll make it back to NZ one day – when I can do it in the style of my own choosing. 😉

      • Yeah, I’m seeing this trend a lot happen in the long-standing travel blogger community and completely understand it. They’ve done the traditional nomad style and now are all settling down—but never stop traveling 🙂 While I was backpacking around in Europe last spring, I did feel the fatigue that occurs after a while!

        • That’s just it! And in all my past long-term travels I had a base – an apartment in the city, somewhere I could leave my stuff while I did weekends or weeks away. I like that style, even if I didn’t see as many different places. I certainly won’t stop traveling, but the next great adventure will be where to sort out that home base now! lol

  • Wow! I’m sad that it didn’t turn out to be what you wanted, but I’m happy for you that you realize when something doesn’t feel right! Lately, I’ve been struggling with the question of what is my purpose too. Before when I had a job (even if I didn’t like it), I knew I was doing something good for people, at least. But now that I’m just traveling… yes, I’m happy with my life now, but at the same time, I feel like I don’t have a new purpose. I’m glad you came to terms with what you want in life! I’m excited to hear about what’s next for you. And I’ll be following your adventures whenever they take you!!

    • Thank you Anna! Traveling around is a fantastic experience, and not one I would ever trade. I guess after the last 7 years of basically being a wanderer, I’ve finally got that itch to finally unpack somewhere for a bit! And when I look back, all the times I was living overseas previously it was for a reason, whether it was school or work. So it’s back to the States and back to writing, and of course to many more adventures of a different variety to come! 🙂 I’ll be following yours as well!!

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  • I think that’s the bravest thing to realise when something isn’t right and do something about it…

    • Thank you!! It’s sort of weird being back home now post-adventure, instead of gearing up to take off again, but I’m sure the adjustment period will pass. 🙂

      • When I was thinking about what to say after this, I saw BavarianSojourn’s comment – and that sums it up completely. It takes a lot of guts and self-knowledge to say, “Hey, this thing is not right for me” and take action rather than try to convince yourself that it’ll all work out. Good for you!!

        • Thank you Kristin!! I’m back home now, and seriously questioning what’s going to be my next move, but I know wherever I go next will be for my career. I had a fabulous 7-8 years traveling around the world, and now it’s time to set up some roots somewhere, even if it’s just for a little while. 😉

  • I think that is something that makes travel worthwhile and meaningful – travelling with a purpose. The bits of travel I do are because of conservation and my job as an ecologist. I get to see culture and history and art and nature because I have a purpose for being in that place, something to keep me focused. And I’ve found you experience a hell of a lot more about a place when you are there for a reason.
    Good for you for realising it’s time to go home – onwards and upwards to the next adventure!

    • Thank you Rachel! It’s certainly a mind-opening experience to realize that something you’ve been looking forward to for over a year isn’t actually what you want. But you definitely learn tons about yourself, and next time I keep all those lessons in mind. We’ll where the next adventure takes me!

  • Boy, do I relate to this post. It seems as though I’ve built a lifetime habit of constantly moving from place to place, always looking for the “next thing” in my life. So much so that I didn’t even realize I was happy right where I was until I left it. I think it takes a lot of courage to realize that what you told yourself you wanted, you didn’t, and to accept that your heart is somewhere else. I’m glad you got to have this amazing experience, though, and that it showed you where you were meant to be. 🙂

    • Thank you Mandie!! I think it’s kind of like finally getting to date that really cool guy from high school/college, and then realizing that he isn’t so cool as an adult lol. Not that NZ isn’t fabulous, because it is, but I think I put the adventure on such a pedestal that I didn’t stop to think about the realities of it. And the reality is I don’t have the energy to be a backpacker, and don’t have the budget yet to do it the way I want to. I’ll go back one day, with a travel buddy. 🙂

      • Well if you’re ever in need of a travel buddy…I would volunteer! 🙂

        • I should take you up on that offer!! What’s your 2015 look like? 😉

          • Psh, I don’t even know what my next month looks like. 😉 But it would be a good goal to save for! Haha

          • Haha you and me both!! 😉

  • Nice writing Amy! It’s amazing how much you can change over time or how much you can learn about yourself in these kinds of circumstances. It took me a few hardcore trips through SEA to figure out I liked the comforts of my home base too as well and there’s nothing wrong with that. Glad you were still able to enjoy NZ though!

    • Thank you Stephanie!! It is incredible how much we can change, and yet you hardly realize it day to day. I really believe though that we’re better off getting out there, trying new things and finding out firsthand what’s best for us than sitting back and wondering. Eve though the year in NZ didn’t pan out as I thought it would, I’m still really glad I went and tried it out. 🙂