I used to be really wrapped up in having things. Nice things, new things, beautiful things, things that people noticed and recognised, that impressed them and told them I was great. All the things that checked the boxes to indicate success. For the longest time, I was chasing things and the trouble with that is you’re never really happy, are you?
Once you get one thing, you need another and another and another. I saw someone with a big house the other day and they were out the front gardening. This is what went through my mind: Big house means a big yard. Big yard means lots of gardening. Lots of gardening means a need for lots of gardening tools, equipment, mowers etc. All of the yard waste requires disposal, which requires a trailer, which requires a large car to tow, which requires fuel and registration. It made me feel sick just thinking about it.
One of the biggest impacts travel has had on my life is the change it has made on my perspective of things. I’d like to tell you something really admirable like, “It’s because I’ve seen people living happy lives with much less than I have.” But the truth is my perspective changed because all the things I once wanted stopped making me happy.
Nothing I bought made me feel as good as those moments of being free do. That’s why I travel, for that feeling of absolute freedom. As soon as Matt and I start to accumulate too many things we both start to feel restless and edgy. It’s like each piece of furniture and clothing, each appliance and plate is adding weight to us, pinning us to one place. It’s crushing.
I shared a photo on Instagram a few days ago and told people I’d worn a $30 dress to a big awards evening, done my own hair and makeup using drug store products and had felt a million bucks despite not spending much at all. I also told people they shouldn’t feel pressured to spend money, they should save it for more important things like plane tickets and big adventures and that I’d rather Peru over Prada any day.
Normally I wouldn’t share something like that because I think it’s just my inner hippie ranting and people will think I’m mad. But so many people related to it, so many people commented and said they agreed. It got me thinking, how many others are there out there who feel the same way?!
It gave me a lot of perspective and I realised all those supportive, positive people were showing me, reflecting back at me, how much change I’ve gone through and how far I’ve come. Sometimes you don’t realise you’re a whole new person until good people show you.
Around 4 years ago I was dreaming of a big house full of lots of nice stuff, driving around in a big car and having so many lovely things. Now all I can think about is how I want to have as little as possible. Just the necessities so I can do what I love, like my laptop and camera. Other than that, the rest doesn’t matter anymore. I didn’t realise that I could be so happy and fulfilled just doing a job I love and living a life I love, without many things. Now I do, I feel liberated!
If you had told me 4 years ago that I would end up doing a job for the love and not even thinking about the money, I would’ve told you you’re mad! How ever will I buy my collection of things without money? Me no compute!
There are many, many reasons why people travel. They travel to find themselves, lose themselves, have a big adventure or just meet new people. Some people never want to travel, in fact, I met a man on a bus a few days ago who told me he hated it. He had asked me what I do for a living and when I told him I’m a travel writer with a travel blog he promptly said, “I don’t like travel. I hate it.”
But hey, that’s cool! He went on to say how he loves Australia and just wants a really big piece of land to call his own, to set up a little house where nobody bothers him and he can do whatever he likes in peace. The more I reflect on that the more I realise he sounds like a serial killer.
Whether you travel or don’t travel, it doesn’t matter. You make the choices that are best for you and whatever you end up doing, you’ll always learn the life lessons you’re meant to. I feel like a big lesson of mine has been this transition from wanting everything to wanting nothing.
I’ve had a few awkward moments with people who have invited me to do something, be part of something or buy something that doesn’t interest me and I’ve said no. Their immediate reaction is one of awkwardness and I can tell they think I’m saying no because ‘money is an issue’. Truth is, money isn’t an issue, it’s never been less of an issue for me but I guess I mean that in a happiness sense and not in an ‘I’m filthy rich!’ way. I say no to people because I just don’t want to spend money on doing something or having something I don’t like.
I’m very lucky to have close friends who understand this, girls who love to shop at op-shops and think designer stuff is stupid. Girls who are happy catching up over home-made burritos at someone’s house. They’re the most pure, honest friendships I’ve had and it’s so nice to know your friendship is about loving each other and not just being seen at a cool bar all tarted up.
When I think about it, it’s kinda funny. I stayed in my crappy job for so long because I thought I wanted to earn a lot of money to be all the things I wanted. I was scared to leave my job in case I didn’t earn enough money and couldn’t have things. Now I’m free and I love my job, I’m not scared of not having money anymore because I don’t want the things anymore. All I want is to be loved and to be free.
So, with all of this in mind and the support I got sharing the photo on Instagram, I’m going to try to be a little bit more open and share my newfound perspective and hopefully it helps a few other people out there listen to their own inner-voice telling them what they really want too.
Whether you want things or don’t want the things, whether you want to travel or want to be a serial killer on a large property in remote bushland, just make sure you are doing whatever you want to do and whatever makes you happy, because nothing else matters as much as what you want matters. And as I’ve said before, that’s not selfish, it’s just smart.
Watch: our “Drunk Travel Tips’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.