An Unexpected Journey Toward Identity

I’ve lost and found myself several times on this “unexpected journey.”

But when you move solo 6,700+ miles away from your comfort zone to pursue your dreams, that is bound to be expected.

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When I began planning for this move over a year ago, I thought I had all my ducks in a row. Now, I’ve gone through every range of emotions on a daily basis (similar to how NZ may experience four seasons in a day).

If this was my dream, why do I feel so lost?

And the road goes ever on...
And the road goes ever on…

This isn’t a new revelation. In high school, I wrote a column about decisions for my career. After my first year at the Disneyland Resort, I experienced my first large quarter-life crisis. This move seems like chapter 2 of my quarter-life crisis now.

I constantly push myself to be, learn, create, and dream more (like most Millenials). However, it’s a blessing and a curse, for it’s been a personal struggle to find true happiness (all-around) for many years. This inherently implies the type of person I naturally am: A born planner who has too many passions and thinks she can do it all (but in reality, that’s not the case).

I’ve changed drastically even from month one to month two of NZ. Prior to October, I was a fool (of a Took). I thought that my dream was to travel “for the rest of my life.” I thought that my way to start a career in the travel industry was to move across the globe. For some, that probably works. For me, who has never lived abroad before, it was frustrating to say the least. I was angry at myself for feeling uncertain and for talking so big beforehand, as if, “I’d never return to California, because it’s what I know.”

And here I am, in the middle of a NZ summer Christmas, now thinking about settling down in one spot after my year here. Settling down?! ME?

But yes, the one thing keeping me sane right now is my desire to eventually go back to America for my home base.

The one thing I’ve taken away from Wellington (and the country overall) is that it’s incredibly limited on resources: electronics, products, food, etc. For a vacation, it’s amazing! To live here, it’s definitely beautiful, but various factors take lots of adjustment.

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Contrary to my belief, I’m not meant to be a backpacker. I’m not comfortable with the day-to-day or week-to-week uncertainty of living in hostels, couchsurfing, and just “winging it.” And while I’m living in the middle of Middle-earth, I think that my heart knows where I need to be once this blissful working holiday is over.

For this reason, I’ve focused on what I do best and love the most: Creativity. I’ve found myself gravitating toward inspirational creative blogs (such as Lesley Myrick) amidst all this identity uncertainty. I have enough faith in myself to know that my creative passions will allow me to travel through vacations or business if I just focus my energy on them.

Being around Weta talent has also re-sparked my creative juices. My funky fashion sense, constant desire to alter my hairstyles, non-conformist ways, excitement over getting an Elvish tattoo before my adventure here ends… I’m meant to be around creative people. They allow me to thrive, grow, and challenge myself regularly. I know that you should always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, but in all honesty, I never expected to meet some of the most creative, artistic people in such a small country. And you never have to walk too far in Wellington without running into someone wearing a Weta crew hoodie… 😉

I’ve had the pleasure over the past couple days to house (and dog)-sit for a Weta Digital animator. It’s a change of scenery, a chance to bond with a beautiful dog (Chompers!) and a chance to experience even more serenity with myself. The walks around the neighborhood are jaw-droppingly beautiful on a sunny day: Lush, rolling green hills on one side of the street versus billowing clouds, tiny homes clustered together, the ocean and mountainscapes painting the other side. Mornington is one of the many suburb areas of Wellington, which I love. I’m a suburb girl, not a city girl (hence my dislike for Wellington CBD: central business district).

Chompers!
Chompers!

I’ve also realized that I tend to get frustrated with myself more often here than back home. I put too much pressure on myself, and when things don’t go as planned, I freak out. Today, I chose to calm myself down by venturing into Central Park (in Brooklyn, Wellington… fancy that, NY). This was my second visit, although I was able to explore every nook-and-cranny this time… four hours later, I was fulfilled from all the twists and turns in each trail. I felt like I was walking in Jurassic Park because the ferns and sky-high trees shrouded the sky. NZ has beautiful parks and forestation, that’s for sure. And those bridges! The amazing play equipment at the playground! The kiddie ziplines (that are actually pretty legit)! I’m incredibly happy when I get to be alone, exploring NZ’s finest nature.

I scale jungle gyms and play equipment in my leisure time, thanks.
I scale jungle gyms and play equipment in my leisure time, thanks.
Breathtaking...
Breathtaking…

As the extended edition featurettes for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” play in the background as I write this, I realize that this move has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I have an incredible new array of perspectives on life, Lord of the Rings, travel, living abroad, and appreciation for quality cuisine now that I’m here. You never know what something might lead to if you don’t try, right?

To anyone who has traveled, wants to travel, or is on the edge of toying with quitting their job to pursue their dreams: Do it. Just know that challenges are bound to await, but it’s how you handle them that helps shape you into an even stronger, more open-minded person. And remember that dreams are the foundation of creativity.

Yeah, the views aren't too shabby out here.
Yeah, the views aren’t too shabby out here.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
-Dr. Seuss

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