What an adventurous life feels like

Every now and again a comment someone makes about my life catches me off guard. A few weeks ago, a friend whom I met several years ago while we both enjoyed a few nights off the beaten path on the coast in South Africa said, “Wow, You’ve been living such an adventurous life these last two years.” I hesitated and pondered and wondered, “ah, well, yeah ah… hmmm, I guess, could be,” I said to myself. A few days later a new visitor to my blog and fellow traveler blogger said, Wow, what an adventurous life you lead…”and then (thankfully) acknowledged the difficulties and challenges that can come with it too. Exactly, I thought.

 An adventurous life. An exciting life.

I guess I do. My life has been filled with it’s ups and downs, fears and challenges, upsets and heartbreaks,  just like the next person experiences.

Looking out on the city, Valencia

 My life is adventurous.

I won’t deny it. But it doesn’t always feel the way it’s likely perceived because it all depends on what lens you’re looking through. And because sometimes when you’re living the adventure, there are many parts that aren’t so easy. 

For many Americans who are living the American dream, aka working the minimum 40 hr workweek and many just trying to make ends meet, I can see how my life in Europe seems adventurous; a dream.  Take the typical American or even Spaniard who is following the cookie cutter plan, societal expectations of all the steps to take; graduate high school, go to college, find a guy/gal, get a good job, buy a house, take your 2 week vacations every year and consider having a family .. or in some similar order. The way we’ve been taught our whole young lives through various media outlets: TV shows, movies, commercials, school, likely are parents, extended family and grandparents (if you were so lucky to have them, I was not).  Diverting from this route isn’t as common, though in my realm of existence of being connected to fellow travelers, expat bloggers, and having friends in many places in the world as well as making friends while abroad makes it easy for me to forget that the path I’ve chosen isn’t the typical one.

So yes, My life is different. 

Looking at life through a different perspective! Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

Looking at life through a different perspective! Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

At 19 I was exposed to another world when I lived in London for three months with a host family and coined my motto: “Defy Convention.” It was then I told myself I wanted to take a different path and I’ve managed a balance of working jobs I enjoy that give me perspective, fulfillment, and educate me about my world. When they’ve come full circle,  I’ve hit the road by either traveling or living abroad.

 I’ve carved my own path and made my own little road.  

I took myself on a grand adventure to the unknown: Africa. The only way I managed  9 months traveling solo in the amazing but challenging continent was a perfectly mixed combination of naiveté  craziness and being brave. Folks, I’ll be honest with you, there is no other way I could have survived! Diving in head first, without knowing what the hell I was getting myself into, was  the only way  because if I had the slightest idea of what I was attempting to do, I would have said a BIG F#%* NO, are you crazy?

Which probably explains why when I tell most people I’ve traveled solo in Africa, they’re mouth drops open and they say, “WHAT? You traveled alone? In Africa?” Or “Damn, That’s impressive!” Or “Weren’t you afraid?” To which I reply, “Yup, I did” and “No, I wasn’t afraid.” For the entire 9 months, I felt comfortable and the few times I likely should have been afraid, I was pissed off and frustrated about the circumstances…” (I don’t tell them that my last 2 hours on the continent in the wealthier area of Jo’burg a guy attempted to mug me on a busy street at midday but this is another story)

I’m so grateful I dove in. Thank goodness for youth and the unquestioning belief we can do anything.

Camel riding in the Sahara desert, Morocco

Camel riding in the Sahara desert, Morocco

Three years later, I listened to my heart and pursued my next dream: living in Spain. I took the leap, left what I knew behind, left my friends, family and boyfriend to follow a dream of improving my Spanish. Spanish is something I will continue to have to improve upon, work on, practice by speaking and writing, when I say my fare-well to the Iberian peninsula this June.  I  have been forced to acknowledge learning Spanish will be a longer journey than I ever anticipated because languages don’t exactly have an end-point.

Living abroad definitely is an adventure navigating a  country and a new city, different culture, trying to grasp the language while you have many misunderstandings, getting accustomed to new meal times, learning about the gastronomy and trying strange and delicious foods. It’s all apart of the experience. And traveling. Oh yes. Traveling often and easily because I’m living in Europe. It’s true, it’s not every day in America, I can hop on a plane to London to visit family for a weekend or visit a friend in Ireland or have a weeklong getaway in Morocco for spring break or experience the magic of la feria de Sevilla in April in beautiful Andalucía. Living abroad is full of adventures. And just like life, it doesn’t matter where you are because the ups and downs find you, just as I confessed expat life isn’t as glamorous as it may appear. 

  Life in Basque country is living life. 

But Why?

Well, glad you asked.

Because

  • I have a job (that’s not always fulfilling but I do it anyway. Teaching kids who aren’t interested in being taught= felling like a fish trying to swim upstream)
  • I have a routine (Thank goodness, Routines give me structure, especially on those “what the heck am I doing days?”)
  • I deal with bureaucracy
  • I wonder what comes next in my life (because teaching English in Spain isn’t my long-term goal)
  • I’m still human. I’ve got worries, self-doubt, and a little box of fear that I try to keep closed shut and out of sight but likes to make an appearance every now and again.
We don't always know where the adventure will take us...

We don’t always know where the adventure will take us…

Social media allows us to portray our lives however we want and an album of photos from our travels or life abroad can make others envious quick, without them knowing the real feelings behind each photo or what difficult situations there may have been.

Though my life is atypical of the American dream and the typical Americana, I still question myself from time to time and like the next person wonders what comes next. Yet, I’m curious and fascinated how my life appears to others and the occasional comments let me know. Maybe that’s  the difference because when it’s your life and you’re living it with all the worries and uncertainties that you have to face in life, the adventurous life you’re leading doesn’t always feel like an adventure. It doesn’t always feel spectacular as it seems to an outsider, someone who doesn’t know what this world looks like. A lot of the adventure comes from making the decision to do something different, stick with the decision and ride out all the hardships and see where it leads. 

I’m grateful for the road I’ve paved for myself and know that living an adventurous life isn’t always as simple as it seems but it sure beats wondering what an adventurous life would be like. 

Despite all the challenges and uncertainty, I’m so happy to know what it’s like to live and accomplish a dream, to have adventures and know that just like life, living an adventurous life has its ups and downs, the good and bad and for me, is so worth it!

Are you a traveler or expat? Can you relate?  Have you been surprised or taken aback when someone has commented about how they perceive your life? How does it feel?

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9 thoughts on “What an adventurous life feels like

  1. I agree with the way our lives are portrayed via social media, and I’ve seen this come up a lot recently in blogs. People back home think that life in Spain is all fiesta, tapas and travelling, but there’s also a lot of routine in there, whether we want it or not (we have to survive financially, too!) Life always looks different through selective photos and short and sweet updates.
    I love life in Spain and making the most of it (trying to make the most of it) while I’m here, but I still find I am sometimes doing the same things as back home (travelling to/from work, going to the bank, checking Facebook). Having said that, there are definite perks. I now get to go for runs on a beautiful beach instead of around a neighbourhood, and I get to travel pretty frequently 🙂

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      It’s nice to hear I’m not the only and others struggle with the same thing. I agree, there are lots of perks and occassional I pinch myself when I’m able to take day trips or weekend trips and it almost becomes to normal to just be in another part of Spain or somewhere in Europe!

  2. I think that people honestly believe I’m on a permanent vacation. They don’t get that A) it’s just regular life here too, and B) sometimes it’s even harder because of other factors.

    It’s an adventure, but not exactly how people who’ve never done it think it should be. But it definitely beats sitting at home wondering ‘What if…?’

  3. “Thank goodness for youth and the unquestioning belief we can do anything.” Amen! I’m so glad I moved abroad at 18, when it seemed like such an obvious and natural thing to do at the time. Now the older I get, the more I question and overthink things so I don’t know I would have the guts to do half the things I did when I was 18! So very thankful for that naivety and youthful energy.

  4. People often gawk when I say I live in Spain, but sometimes I find myself having the reverse fantasy. I’ve been living abroad for five years, and sometimes I dream of having my own apartment, good paying job, and a dog. I guess it is just the longing to feel settled. Then I go eat some tapas and forget about that fantasy haha.

  5. Very true, it is the road we pave for ourselves. I’m glad that I’ve chosen this route, even if it has been a mostly uphill battle – I know it’s making me (us expats) stronger and that it will be much easier to do it again should we want, need or have to.

  6. I am told the same everyday, when I tell just a 10% of my life, everyone thinks that my life is amazing, they want to do like me blablabla…they don’t realize about the sacrify behind this!
    great post! I felt fully identify!

  7. During my first year, I heard the “Wow! You’re living the dream!” every time it was mentioned that I had packed up for Spain. Now, it’s just my life and the decisions I chose to make. Sure, it may be someone’s dream (mine included), but it’s pushing me to look for even bigger dreams!

  8. I will be leading a more adventurous life in about 6 months. Up until now I’ve graduated college and have been working in a cubicle. I decided it was time for a change. In October I’ll be teaching in Spain, assuming I get accepted. I aspire to have an adventurous life like yours!

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