There have been moments in my life over the past year that have been more defining than I ever could have imagined. It’s been the biggest and most courageous year of my [almost] 24 to date. As both the one year mark heads our way since we started this journey together to find ourselves and our new life, we also approach the big trip home.
It seems to many, travelling abroad is just a phase, a short chapter in a life to be able to say “I done this, I done that..” this being the intention in the beginning as fear, anxiety and the unknown are at the forefront. But as you continue to break down barriers, push boundaries and become more courageous you soon find yourself so far away from your comforts, your in some kind of twilight zone. If we didn’t like it we could always go home, if we only lasted a year or two? Great. It was never a big deal forced upon us by anybody, it was all our own choices and dreams. Why travel & move abroad? I’m not entirely sure how to answer that question and many people would consider it to be a career driven move on my behalf. But believe me, it has been much more than that. I’m not shy to knowing what hard work looks like, known to some, but for those of you who don’t know me; I come from a hard working, middle class Irish family in which I am the youngest of 6.
I was in some ways a lot more cushioned, as a “Celtic Tiger” baby, born in the early 90’s and teened through out the “good times” in Ireland. When money was a flow, everything was in reach. I therefore, being the youngest, was of course exceptionally lucky to hit my teens at such a great time for the economy. Trips to New York and Paris during my school days being the highlight. Thankfully through out this all, my dad remained a grounded role model. Being a small, one man bussiness, he never became greedy and continued to remind me of his humble upbringing. My dad was the eldest son of 11 children, whom has worked since the age of 12 and continues to do so up to this day. He knows the true values of life and how indispensible money can be.
Through out the 2000’s as the economy continued to flourish, investments in property and banking became a huge part of family life in Ireland, but not ours. My family invested time in each other, we would continue to go away on our camping trips and family weekends. Never losing sight of what would always be, when you have nothing else, you always have family. These family trips and memories are what kept us all grounded.
Graduating from school in 2008 and the most common word in conversation became the recession. One day I sat down and asked my dad what that word really meant, “Jules, unfortunately I never thought I’d see the day when Ireland would see another recession after the 80’s. But people are living beyond their means, which means the country has no money”. OH. But how does the country have no money all of a sudden? Being a 17 year old naive teen and ignorant to the fact that life could change that suddenly, I didn’t realise until opportunities began to be taken away. Getting in to college? Check. Getting a job in my desired field? No. Getting a full time job anywhere? No.
Soon I began to realise how closed off my life was going to become if I stayed in Ireland. Was I happy to be working 12 hours a week? Or did I want more? Yes. Yes I wanted more in my life, I only have one shot at it after all. Like my two brother’s before me, I too would have to fly the nest if I wanted to make anything for myself.
So thus began our journey.
I’ve spoken of it before and I’ll speak of it again – Luck & timing can be everything. Through out preparing for leaving and upon arriving in Canada I never once imagined I would be working in a buying office. And just like that I got my foot in the door [part luck, part timing and part determination]. My foot was in the right direction for once! I firmly believe that, as my dad has instilled in me, you have to be happy in your work and then you’ll happy in other aspects of your life. Working takes up 80% of your life time, which means you spend a lot of your whole life in this place. What if you wake up every morning hating it? You’ve got a very long road ahead of you until you reach that retirement exit. So as I began my new career, I also found a new mentor in my boss. Not someone to just pass on the work load, but someone who would also pass their time and knowledge too. I was beginning to not only learn more about the bussiness but about myself also. I then met my friends, life was really looking up! And on top of all of this, we had a whole new city at our finger tips, explorations at every corner. This lead to our weekends being filled up with all things new. When we could save up we would, and then we would travel. Cottages in the country, Niagara falls in the Fall, New York at Christmas. Our big trip to NYC, which lead to even bigger things, our engagement.
I truly do believe that with independence comes happiness. All of a sudden the mondane every day life we had been living before on a small 12 hour work week, became so much more when we pushed ourselves. We got both a happy work place and new home, a life consisting of exciting and fun times. Our very own happy place. We had both known immediately this was for us, this was our good life. My dad continues to remind me, that this time round its my turn. This is my chance at creating the life I want for myself. By pushing myself that much, I stepped into my independence and in return, found my happiness.
Standing in central park with Gary by my side, the NY skyline looking back at us, the sparkle shining off my ring and into my smile. This was the first time, the surrealness left and reality kicked in.. my life is but a dream. At that moment I realised how fighting for what you believe in, pushing yourself from deep down, breaking through the boundaries and all kinds of zones until you land in that blissfully happy place. I can’t imagine how our story would have ever played out any other way. More often than not, I need to remember that this isn’t all a dream, this is the life we created.
In working hard and living a fullfilling life, I still keep my family close. The biggest trip we have been planning for 2014 so far, is happening next week. Being away from home, makes you cherish the times together even more. I cannot wait to spend 19 days with my nearest and dearest!
P.s Yes I am Beyonce’s biggest fan and yes those are from her documentary. Bye!