Let me take you a couple of years back in time. I’d just turned 25 years old and I felt that every piece in my life was just the way it should be. I was so profoundly proud of myself and felt that there wasn’t a one single thing in my life that I wanted to change. I was on the top of the world. I had just graduated from a business school, and after years of intensive studying I had gained my master’s degree in marketing. I was married to the most perfect guy who was just the type I’d been dreaming about as a young girl. I had been lucky and got a permanent position as a management trainee in the largest bank in the Nordic countries.
But deep inside I felt that something was missing.
It was a rainy October day in Finland. The pouring rain, mustard-colored leaves, naked trees and dying grass were constantly reminding me that I would have to wait many more months until we’d have summer again. Luckily, I was watching all this from the comfort of my nicely decorated home. I was sitting on my beautiful, expensive white leather couch, drinking warm tea from my designer mug and having it as nice and cosy as you possible could in Finland during October. I knew that I would go to work tomorrow, and on the day after tomorrow, and on the day after that. My whole life was just one predictable, almost dream-like cycle of regularly recurring activities. It was just so easy to turn my brain into an autopilot, relax, and let the days go by.
I changed the viewpoint and started observing myself from the outside of my body. I saw myself in the eyes of an outsider. There I was, living that perfect tiny life that I had worked so much for. I knew that I should feel proud of my accomplishments and be able to convince myself that this is how success feels like. However, as I kept observing myself, everything started looking completely different. Suddenly I began to notice those things that were lacking from the picture. I started seeing what was absent, missing, invisible. I started realizing what I had been trying to hide with all the expensive furniture, designer stuff, fashionable clothes and other nice possessions. I understood that I had filled my days with studying, working, watching Netflix, planning, schedules, to-do lists, hobbies and acting perfect, and in this way, I had managed to squeeze down the space where the life itself should happen, and I had done it to the point where it was almost nonexistent.
From a spur of the moment and without even thinking of it, I opened YouTube and wrote: “Australian birds singing in the morning”. Immediately when I heard a funny sounding bird singing, I bursted into tears. I cried out loud, and my cry stemmed from somewhere really deep inside of me, and I couldn’t recall when was the last time I had felt anything that real. I cried because suddenly I could remember that girl that I used to be, but who had been lost for so long.
I cried, and the more I cried, the clearer it was that my life would never be the same.
It’s been now two years since I stepped on a plane in Helsinki and travelled to Australia. These two years have sometimes been anything but easy. Many times I’ve felt utterly lost, homesick, scared and depressed. I have had time to distance myself from my previous life, question my decisions and criticize my choices. In my mind I’ve broken my life into different pieces, scrutinized and evaluated each one of them and asked myself “do I really want this”. And one by one, I have left behind pieces of my life. I’ve done it to the extent that I’ve been terrified that at the end of this time, my life is going to be just an empty shell without any substance.
But never have I felt any regret.
I have given my life some space just to happen. I’ve stood in the rain and smiled while the drops make my face and hair wet, I’ve got lost in a new city, I’ve slept under the stars, I’ve climbed on the top of a mountain at sunrise, I’ve seen the sky exploding from fireworks, I’ve spent days snoozing in a hammock, I’ve tasted foods that have foreign names and I’ve just let life to happen. I’ve let my life to consume me, torn me, hurt me and tear me and I’ve let it to lift me back up again.
I have redefined success, and realized that success for me means just this. My life looks, tastes and feels how a life should be. It is crazy, silly, unpredictable, surprising and funny. It hurts sometimes. But it also makes me to laugh, to jump out of joy and to fall in love. It teaches me lessons. It gives me memories. I claim it, own it, love it. It’s just perfect. Just the way I want it. It’s mine.
Every day I feel gratitude for having had the courage to do this.