I’m not normally one to get away from travel stories, travel tips or travel advice as this is mainly a travel blog but I’m starting a new series as of today. Don’t Stop Living will be 6 years old on Tuesday!! I’m excited about that and have a few things planned. You might know my regular features on here and I have been doing almost daily posts for the last 10 months or so, these ones…
Until now, weekends have been free from a “daily feature”. But that changes today.
Welcome to Sunday’s Inspiration. While this won’t be every single Sunday, it will be something I’m typing up and sharing on selected Sundays from now on. As I hit the ten year mark of being away from my home country, I want to share some of the inspiration and incentives and self determination that have helped me live away from Northern Ireland for so long. I’ll be sharing that inspiration on Sundays. I get a ton of e-mails each week from young and new backpackers on the scene, all asking for advice and tips on how to make a start and I’m really looking forward to sharing some of the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. I’m wanting to inspire people to get out into the world and travel and stop listening to others and conforming to what they are told they should do. It’s a free world for the most part you know…
Remember I was working as an assistant on a salad and butchery counter this day ten years ago. I’ve since managed to get a degree, work in over 50 jobs and visit almost 80 countries, all 7 continents. All this because I took a plunge. So without further ado today, here’s the first Sunday’s Inspiration: Taking The Plunge
Have a think about these four things in your life:
– Are you happy with your job?
– Are you happy with the place you live in?
– Are you happy with your friends?
– Could you take a plunge if you’re not happy?
So the story begins…
It was August 2002. It was a boring drab normal routine day for me. I arrived in work and prepared the salad and meat counter for the first hour of my shift. I helped with the bread deliveries and I said hello to all my regular customers. I served customers for about 8 hours. Then I tidied up and went home. I worked behind the butchery, salad and cheese counter at Steenson’s Food Centre. Steenson’s Food Centre was a local shop in Ballyholme, Bangor, Northern Ireland. While I loved the job, I was 22 and life was going nowhere on a train. I worked with some great people in Steenson’s. Buy they knew my mind was drifting further afield. I had to take the plunge.
“Here am I, going nowhere on a train. Here am I, growing older in the rain” – Noel Gallagher
Even my best friends from childhood were working in office jobs thinking they had suddenly “made it” but that concept bored the hell out of me. I had already had about 10 jobs by this point in my life and the ones I most enjoyed were the ones in customer facing environments (bars and shops). I was working more hours and earning less than my mates but I was as passionate as ever. I convinced myself I wouldn’t stick around in my hometown much longer. But nothing comes to those who wait. You have to get out there and do something about it. So I did. That’s all it took. I did something about it.
“Nothing comes to those who wait. Time’s running out the door you’re running in.” – Ian McCullough
I made the decision that within a year I would have a new job, be living in a new country and be hanging round with new friends. Then I went and did it. I took the plunge.
One day the foot and mouth crisis hit our shop and we had no meat. As I was working on the meat counter that day, they asked me if I wanted to finish work early, so I said yes. It was a turning point and I didn’t know it then. With nothing to do I went into the old tech (read: college) in Bangor and enquired about any FREE courses I would be eligible for. I basically told them I wanted to take a plunge and do something new. I had never really cared about my education (and to be honest I still don’t really – the real world is more important than a few qualifications on paper). However I knew it was an easy option to get away to university, with the added benefit of a loan to help pay your rent. I didn’t have a lot of capital, yet I owned a car. To move away I could have sold my car, but I gathered I might need it at some point to get to work in the place I would end up in (and I was right).
“Damn my education, I can’t find the words to say with all the things caught in my mind.” – Noel Gallagher (him again)
As I was over the age of 21 I was able to get onto a free government education course at the local tech in the town I was born in (Newtownards). They offered me a full time course on part time hours basically, which meant I could still work 5 or 6 shifts a week in the meat counter in the local shop, save a load of money and get a qualification. So I enrolled on the course and told my boss at the meat counter I wanted to change my shifts pattern. Everything was cool and I had taken the plunge. I was happy and things evolved from there.
Cutting a long story short, I started hanging out with my Northern Irish friends a lot less. I’d see them down the pub and for football matches and that was it. I worked hard in my job and then I worked and studied on the course I was doing. I was busy but I had made a start on my dreams. Then it came to picking a university, which would sow the seeds for where life was about to take me.
I looked at the alphabetical list and got bored by the time I reached letter B. I chose 3 universities I think, Bournemouth, Bath and Brighton. I only had one intention however – I wanted to move to Bournemouth. I had no real idea why, but it just stuck. I had been there once before with my family, perhaps that was why. So I set my sights on moving to Bournemouth. In the back of my mind I knew it was a beach resort with hotels, bars and restaurants. This meant I would easily get a job there and have a beach. They also had a football team and is only 3 hours away from France.
I took the plunge, within a year I moved to Bournemouth, got a new job, new friends and life had changed. That was 10 years ago, and I haven’t been back to Northern Ireland for longer than a week since (with the exception of one time I broke my foot in 3 places and I spent 3 weeks there with family! Story not yet written…). It’s hard to believe it’s a decade now, but that’s life.
From that day on, I’ve been on an endless journey round the world. It all happened because I took the plunge. Lots of people have taken the plunge, including Adam Pervez who I interviewed before, Adam tells his stories on his Happiness Plunge website.
So folks if you’re sitting around doing nothing and bored of your life, take a plunge and do something about it. You just never know where you will end up.
“You know it’s never too late to make a brand new start” – Paul Weller