Trail Thoughts: Adrift

It was good to be back in Bangkok again. Its highrise offices, dirty canals, airconditioned shopping mazes, and bustling alleyways held a promise of unlimited possibilities. My familiarity with this microcosm of concrete, glass and palm trees allowed me to quickly set myself up for a month; I found a place to sleep, rented office space and connected with old friends to put me into a comfortable daily routine during those first few weeks.

The plan was to find a job to wait out the winter months in comfort while I prepared for next year’s wanderings through Eastern Europe. My travels in Japan put a dent in my budget; finding a job afterwards to balance out my finances was the main condition I put on my visit to the Land of the Rising Costs. Luckily, I met someone in Osaka who could hook me up with a freelance English teaching job here in Bangkok. The only problem was I needed to compete with other teachers to even land the job in the first place.

After weeks of waiting for students to choose me as their teacher and spending money on proper teaching attire, I still didn’t have a single student. No new job opportunities arose, and there was no money coming in. To make matters worse, none of my recent article pitches had gotten even so much as a single reply.

When the well dries up,

you dig a new one.

Up until now, my choice to give up my old life in the Netherlands for this roaming lifestyle had proven to be the right one. The wind had been in my sails ever since I left for Istanbul at the start of this year. Apart from witnessing myself grow as never before on a personal level, Beat The Trail saw a steady increase in both followers and site visitors and my freelance writing jobs had gone from ‘non-existent’ to ‘Hey, this could actually work’ as well.

Now, however, I found myself without my usual travel momentum, stuck without a plan in a city of temptation. I was eating deep into my savings, spending money that was meant for next year’s travels. For the first time since I started travelling fulltime, the winds had stopped blowing and I found myself becalmed, my little boat of plans adrift on a sea of possibilities, unsure of which course to set sail on.

It seemed that as soon as I stopped making plans, I lost my momentum of fortuitous opportunities and universal goodwill. My need to settle down put me back in the same gloomy situation I was in back in the Netherlands: No direct goals, a dwindling savings account and a general unhappiness with my current situation.

The same situation, perhaps, but I was definitely not the same person anymore.

Not willing to give in to despair, I took matters into my own hands. When the well dries up, you dig a new one. And when the winds of fortune stop blowing you either start blowing into your sails yourself or you jump overboard, keeping your eyes on the horizon at all times.

Cutting myself loose from the idea of settling down in Bangkok, I set my eyes on leaving Asia sooner than planned and finding work in Europe. I quickly found several promising leads in Athens, from where I could easily travel onward when the summer season came around again. I booked a ticket and said my goodbyes.

It marked a turn of the tides

My determination paid off. A day after arriving in the Old Continent, I met with a recruiter and got the job. Fortune, it seemed, really does favour the bold.

And while the act of moving back to a familiar continent might not seem all that bold to the casual observer, the ease with which I changed my plans according to my long-term needs and set myself to act decisively –rather than passively waiting out opportunities– marked a change in myself. It marked a turn of the tides, setting myself apart from the person I once was, the person I tried so hard to get away from when I set sail onto this new wandering lifestyle.

Looking back on the past year, my life has been in constant motion. And rather than give in to the chaos, it seems I found a way to thrive despite of it. Not just in terms of managing my business, but also in my personal development. Growth can be hard to measure at times, and it is not until we stop and look back on where we left our marks that we can fully appreciate how far we’ve come.

So from me to you, my dedicated readers and occasional visitors alike, I wish you a merry Midwinter and a prosperous 2020. May the winds of fortune blow you wherever you need to be. Just don’t forget to create your own momentum whenever you find yourselves becalmed.

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