Today I am sharing the 7 life lessons I’ve learned while travelling and living abroad. The last few months have been overwhelming and busy, each day has brought a new experience or challenge. Sharing the details of this journey has felt impossible because I have still being processing it all myself. I live slowly, valuing quality over quantity in every way, so it was necessary for me to take a break from blogging for a while.
Small life update: In January Josh and I moved to Cambodia. We are living happily in a lovely one bedroom flat in a cool area of Phnom Penh. I’ve desired to live abroad for some time and wasn’t sure it would ever happen for me. I never wanted to travel for travelling sake, it needed to have a purpose. So I was pleased when an opportunity arose.
We spend our weekends relaxing and meeting friends, there is always something going on here. But for the most part, I have been working. Volunteering time to projects, staying up late preparing for college, running my classes, marking, creating tech packs and consulting for Fairsew or working with freelance clients.
Before travelling or living abroad, many things sound so difficult; sorting your visa, finding a new home, Learning about different cultures, but it gets easier every day. Time is going fast here, but, finally, I am over the hardest part and ready to share some things I have learned along the way.
Say Yes and Screw Perfectionism.
Over the last few months, there has been little time for procrastinating. I’ve had to turn up every day to get things done. I have always loved being a yes woman. This Year I have said it a lot, yes to this move, yes to teaching, yes to new clients and changing my career path.
This is all new for me and the pressure to seek perfection is always lurking. Sometimes, to open ourselves up to new experiences we have to let go of control. Trust me, it is better to show up and do the best you can at that moment, than never turn up at all. You are probably doing a lot better than you are giving yourself credit for too.
I am so glad I said yes to this opportunity. It has been an intense learning curve and a hectic juggling act, making time to relax and actually enjoy it. Organisation has never been a strong skill of mine. But, I can’t tell you how much happier in this moment, compared to my rigid 9-6 office job where I had stopped learning anything at all.
Know What You Are Good At.
Designing is what I do best, I just get it. There is always a million things to learn, especially now with many sustainable advances. In the past, I have downplayed my abilities, intimidated by older designers in my office with huge personalities.
I have learnt my value. I don’t ever want to lose the skill I’ve spent years cultivating. When I left my job in fast fashion I was surprised to find I missed designing and drawing like crazy. It was a huge relief to discover, it is not my craft I dislike, but the places I was doing it.
I had a renewed sense of purpose, embracing my skills not running from them. This enabled me to bag my first ever freelance design client. I hope the first of many. It was such a proud moment.
Take 10 When You’re Overwhelmed.
I’ve started guided meditation again, something I started in Bali. Does anyone else manage to play out all the worst case scenarios in their mind about how the day could go?
When I am stressed it’s truly helpful to take 10, breath and stay present in the moment without overthinking. Most mornings I try to get up half an hour earlier, get ready calmly rather than rushing around and make time. It is an invigorating way to start the day. When I feel overwhelmed often my first instinct is to sleep through the problems, but this gets me to work through it instead, and I feel like a better person for doing it.
Enjoy Living With Less.
One thing is for sure we are living the minimalist dream here. We couldn’t bring heaps with us and can’t afford to buy much here. I have enough clothes to mix and match to help keep my outfits fresh, many pants, 3 pairs of shoes because I had to bring one pair of docs. We bought a couple of plants because a house isn’t a home without. Some zero waste supplies and essentials and that’s about it. My life officially fits into a large suitcase and I feel so free.
Just to clarify living with less means purely living with less stuff, enough to keep a tidy flat and mind. Never live with less love and happiness, there is always enough room for more of those.
Create Your Own Opportunities.
When starting this blog two years ago little did I know it would lead to us moving to Cambodia two years later. Through blogging I took my life into my own hands, it built my confidence and released a lot of frustrations and held me accountable for my actions.
This platform has opened many doors, that would not have been there to open without it. I am so grateful for the people I have been able to meet and the connections I’ve been able to build through common interests and tenacity.
Now maybe starting a blog isn’t the answer for everyone, but think hard about how you can take actions to help create opportunities for yourself when you feel you have none, no matter how big or small. You never know what could stem from it.
Trust Your Journey.
We can’t predict the future, we have to have faith it will be good. Instead of worrying about the end goal we must focus on the here and now.
During a travelling low point, I reached out to a friend we made in Cambodia to say we would either be going home soon or come back, but we were torn. Cambodia is the place we really enjoyed and felt the deepest connection to while travelling. She replied and really helped me find the courage to take a leap of faith and draw the trip out just a little longer and it ended up changing our path.
We are all at different points in our journeys, allow it to unfold organically, without comparison, sometimes life can surprise us and take us in a different direction. Trust your own unique intuition.
Missing Home Hurts
Missing home can be really hard. I miss my family (friends included) and many home comforts, daily routine and regular wages. Home can mean many things. The familiar. Of course, I miss it all.
It has been hard learning to process things without friends and family, 7-hour time difference makes quick calls home a big deal. You have to learn to push through that feeling, they will always be there when you get home. Embrace the Fomo, how nice it is to have people in your life to miss, it will all be worth it in the end.
You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To.
Some of my deepest insecurities still haunt me, I am still working on myself everyday. We all have our dark days, wracked with fear and self doubt.
Moving to Cambodia to teach and work independently has been the biggest step out of my comfort zone I’ve ever taken. I never imagined this is something I could do. Successfully completing my first term feels like a huge achievement. I have imparted knowledge not just on myself but to my students. It feels good.
While sat watching my students work away on their projects I had the biggest realisation of all:
I can do anything I set my mind to. Really.
I am tenacious and rise to a challenge. I didn’t think, that through teaching others, I would learn so much about myself.
Here is to the rest of our journeys and learning every step of the way. I hope this has helped anyone who is travelling or living abroad or feeling a bit stuck in their day to day. Let me know your best lessons in the comments below.
Love, Lottie xx
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