8th Dec 21 – An anxiety filled morning

I returned from my run this morning feeling good – full of belief and optimism. However, it didn’t take long before anxiety and worry started to fill my mind. My brain is in overdrive, constantly trying to figure out what I want to do next – but it seems the more I try, the busier and more jumbled my mind seems to become.

So after my shower I knew I had to meditate – one of the techniques I use to relax and bring myself back to the present; it didn’t have much impact. And here I am now – mind still busy – sharing my thoughts.

Here are some of the thoughts going through my head:

“people from my old job are laughing at me – leaving my job, and still haven’t produced anything of value”

“I’m going to run out of money and have to take a job I don’t enjoy”

“I don’t know what I want to do!”

“why is it so hard to have clarity?”

I have started to feel myself drift into a place where I’m lacking self-belief and doubting my abilities; and when you lose hope, it can start to spiral into dark places.

If I lose belief in myself, then it’s more than likely that my actions will reflect that, and it’ll become a self-fulfilling cycle. But there’s no reason for me not to believe in myself! I’ve overcome challenging problems in the past:

  • defeated depression
  • graduated with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering
  • ran a 1/2 marathon
  • completed the David Goggins 4 x 4 x 48 challenge and raised over £2,000 for charity
  • delivered projects worth in excess of £4M
  • etc.

It’s time to start believing again!

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Oct 29th 21 – I was super self-conscious

The man you see in this photo is me, but a very different version of the man I am today.

A very self-conscious man, whose entire identity was tied to a role within a Fortune 500 company! Why did I take that photo? I wanted to portray an image – look at me flying business class, wearing a Hugo Boss suit jacket, whilst sipping on Champagne. 

I was imprisoned in my own mind – not fulfilled but handcuffed to a job through fear! Fear of not being ‘enough’. Fear not being worthy without a fancy job within a big company. 

I had what many young people would’ve given so much for – yet I was sitting on that plane not enjoying it, but thinking about what I could ‘show’ others. 

Honestly, those business trips to Houston were so fucking lonely! I’d come back to my fancy hotel room and be super lonely, but of course, nobody on social media would’ve known. 

If you’re doing a job that you hate, but the status is holding you to it – don’t let it control you! I was so scared of quitting my job. But now that I’ve done it, I don’t know why I was so scared! I’ve removed the handcuffs and freed myself to build a life FOR ME! We’re the designers of our life, and we should build a life for us – one that we believe is important and fulfilling.

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Oct 28th 21 – Time cannot be reversed

My time on the island of La Gomera is up tomorrow, as I head back to Tenerife for some surfing.

It took me a long time to change my focus from ‘making a living’ to ‘living’. I’ve felt ‘alive’ on this trip – a stark contrast to the monotony I began to feel sitting at my desk, day in, day out.

I’ll always be able to make a living; despite some fears we have, finding a job that pays the bills (provided I live modestly) isn’t that hard. But, I won’t be young forever – or indeed healthy. 

This is hand on heart the best thing I’ve done, but if it had been a terrible experience, it would’ve still been the right decision. Why? Because I wouldn’t have spent the next decade wondering ‘what if?’

“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So is regrets.”

Marilyn Monroe

Wondering ‘what if’ is a terrible position – because time cannot be reversed. At some point you reach a place where you can’t do anything about it; is there a worse feeling than being helpless?

A few people questioned my decision, and that’s ok. But they wouldn’t have had to live with my mind and thoughts. To live with peace of mind, I need to do what I believe is right.

If there’s something you want to do, my advice would be to do it as soon as it’s practical to do so – time has stolen a lot of dreams, don’t let it steal yours!! 

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Oct 26th 21 – You don’t always get what you deserve

After hiking for over 5 hours, and reaching an altitude of 1487 m, I’d reached the summit of Alto de Garajonay (the highest point of La Gomera). 

Expecting to be met with views across the island, and views reaching the other Canary Islands, I was met with thick fog!! C’est la vie!

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25th Oct 21 – Travelling solo whilst in a relationship

To some it may seem strange that I’m travelling alone whilst my girlfriend is at home, and I can understand why some people have that perspective. So, i thought I’d share my thoughts …

I’ve never travelled solo, and felt that it would be a character building experience, pushing me outside my comfort zone with only myself to look at for the answers. It would be far too easy to rock up to a hostel with your partner and just do your own thing.

Rock up alone, and it’s either be lonely or get involved!

“The inner journey of travel is intensified by solitude.”

Paul Theroux

It’s a good test of trust in a relationship, and what you want for each other. It is a testament to my girlfriend that she fully supported this solo trip, and if anything, has pushed me into uncomfortable situations from afar. She has encouraged me to get involved with people from the hostel. 

It’s an opportunity to be selfish, and do what’s best for you. I know this sounds terrible, but I think it’s important in relationships to take time away to do something for you and only you. Out here, I’m just thinking about what I want to do day in and day out – it’s effortless.

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24th Oct 21 – An emotional rollercoaster

I’ve spoken at length now about how transformational the last few days have been from a personal perspective. 

Of course, there’s been many positives but there’s another side to travelling alone that maybe doesn’t get touched on so much – everyone possibly wants to portray how amazing everything is. 

Travelling alone is an emotional rollercoaster; especially when it comes to meeting new people.

That, without question, has been the best part about travelling solo. However, it’s also the hardest part. Let me elaborate …

You can quickly build relationships with people, and it’s great returning to the hostel to see familiar faces with whom you’ve already build rapport. But just as quickly as you build the relationships, people move on – and it can be quite sad saying goodbye.

And so the process begins again, and again, and again. 

Fortunately, because everyone in the world is unique, building these new relationships is effortless. And people travelling tend to be open minded, and nobody has their guard up – nobody feels they need to prove anything. With this type of person it’s easy to strike up new conversations, and before you know it you’re taking day trips together and going out for dinner.

As I was just passing through Tenerife, tonight is my last night here before catching the ferry to La Gomera.

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23rd Oct 21 – Don’t plan, it’s restrictive

Malaga … it’s been great! Onto to Tenerife now as a pit stop before arriving on the stunning island of La Gomera.

I’ve spoken before about my past obsessiveness over plans. When I travelled the USA back in 2014 for 6 weeks, I had every flight and hotel booked before I even set off – talk about restrictive! 

Since then – through experience and the wisdom of others – I’ve come to realise that extensive planning does more harm than good.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Firstly, when I have a plan, rather than enjoying the present, I’m too busy thinking about what’s next on the plan. Will we be on time? Will it be fun? Etc. However, if there was no ‘next step’ then there’d be nothing to think about other than what I’m doing in the moment.

Secondly, too restrictive a plan leaves no room for spontaneity! Already on this trip – where I had no plan for Malaga – great things have happened by chance: catching the sunset, going for dinner with new friends, great conversations on the hostel terrace, finding great places to eat, etc.

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22nd Oct 21 – Am I really travelling alone?

Empanadas night at the Urban Jungle Hostel, washed down with a mojito (or two). 

The food was great, and the people even better! It’s been so refreshing to meet open minded people who look at life differently – where interesting stories are shared of travels and experiences.

Are you ever really travelling alone? I don’t think so – there’s an amazing sense of community at hostels. I’ve met teachers, medical assistants, business students, engineers, all unified in their desire to explore and experience more.

Nobody is interested in the car you drive, the house you own, or whether you’ve been promoted recently – conversations are much deeper and engaging. 

There’s nothing to prove here – just be yourself, be kind, and respectful. 

“You only live once, but if you live it right, once is enough.”

Mae West

I’m really content right now, with peace of mind that I’ve made the best decision of my life! It was the toughest decision I’ve ever made – but stepping into this new bubble, it makes me realise that when you’re surrounded by open-minded people, these decisions aren’t so tough. 

Sometimes you have to get outside of your city – especially if you grew up in it too – to really see the bigger picture! 

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21st Oct 21 – An introvert solo travelling

Make no doubt about it, I like my own space and I’d put myself more in the introvert camp than the extrovert. So, when my girlfriend suggested that instead of looking to Google for my next restaurant recommendation, I speak to fellow guests at the hostel and join them, I felt uneasy. 

It’s just not natural for me – it’s outside my comfort zone. As such, when I returned to my dorm room yesterday evening, it was to look through Google for places to go, not to ask my fellow guests where they were off to.

However, after chatting briefly with two other guests staying in my dorm, they asked if I wanted to join them for dinner. I accepted! 

For forward a few hours, and I was delighted I did! We had a great conversation, I learnt a lot about a lot of things, and it felt amazing to be asked! This experience has taught me so much.

Admittedly, if I was with my friends at a hostel, it’s unlikely I would ask others – I’m not rude, but for some reason it’s just not my ‘go to’. However, after experiencing yesterday, this has to be the ‘go to’.

When the shoe (or in my case, sandals) is on the other foot, it feels so nice to be asked – and that’s the perspective I need to remember.

That was yesterday … today I visited Ronda (about a 2 hour bus ride from Malaga). That’s me photobombing the incredible Puente Nuevo.

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20th Oct 21 – I’ve arrived in Malaga

It’s the first time since my teens that I’ve gone away on holiday without being constrained by time. Whilst working, I was at the mercy of my annual leave allowance. This freedom will allow me to take my time, and avoid having to jam pack my schedule.

It’s also my first time travelling abroad solo, so it’ll be interesting to see how I enjoy my own company. 

And in terms of packing – I’m usually lugging around the biggest suitcase I can find! Whereas on this trip, I’ve managed to squeeze everything I need into a 38L backpack weighing less than 10kg. Already I’m enjoying how freeing it is to carry less.

A Netflix documentary called Minimalism inspired this decision – check it out, it’s a great watch.

Finally, I’m usually a pretty obsessive planner (spreadsheets galore), but on this trip I’ve left it fairly open – with only the first few days planned. I guess that’s one of the benefits of having plenty time! 

Starting point on this trip is Malaga – I chose this location as my start due to the £15 one-way flight from Aberdeen, and the high temperatures at this time of year. A couple of days here before I head to the Canaries for a more active time …

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