I cannot believe that it was exactly two years ago today that I first went to South Africa. It was two years ago today that I ventured out by myself, and travelled across the globe having no idea what to expect, and knowing there would not be a single person that I knew within 12,000km.
It was exactly two years ago today that my adventurous life began, that I knew what I was put on this earth to do, that I found what truly makes my heart happy, and that I discovered that I could fall in love with not merely a country, but the way that it could make me feel.
I travelled to South Africa to work as a conservation volunteer on a big 5 game reserve in the Eastern Cape when I was 19 years old. I was incredibly apprehensive and pretty nervous, even crying myself to sleep on the first night because I just wanted to fly straight back home.
But the whole experience was truly magical. It opened my eyes to not only a new country, but a new culture, new animals, new ways of thinking and a whole new view on my existence, as well as gaining likeminded friends for life.
At this time I was just about to enter into my final year of university. So as great as my experience in Africa was, I had my degree to focus on, and like many things in life, the things that you want get pushed to the side over the things that you ‘need’.
It was a year and a half later that I travelled back to South Africa, immediately rekindling the same feelings of wholehearted happiness that I had previously forgotten, due to ever so quickly falling back into my daily routine at home.
I recently read an article that asked, “If money was no object, what would you do with your life?” And it really got me thinking that actually, if money really was no object, I would still be doing exactly what I am doing with my life right now.
Sure, it would be a lot easier. I wouldn’t have to be working full time in an unrelated job alongside working day and night towards my dreams, I wouldn’t have to wait so long for things to happen as I could fly around whenever I wanted to to move things along at a much faster pace. But truly, I would still be making wildlife documentaries, I would still be fighting for animal rights and I would still be wanting to make an impact in this world in the same way that I am currently aiming towards.
Sure there are many days when I get intensely disheartened; when one thing doesn’t go right or doesn’t work out like I imagined it would, then suddenly everything seems to go wrong. I’m quite an independent person, I keep myself to myself when I’m working on something, and because of that when I get in a negative mood, nothing that anyone can say or do will get me out of it.
But then (and it may sound silly), but I give myself a talking to; I pick myself up and I realise that there are so many things in this world to be thankful for and to be happy about, that just because something doesn’t work out the way that you wanted it to, doesn’t mean that it won’t turn out to be the best thing in your life.
I used to struggle with understanding my purpose in this life and wondering what I had been put on this earth to do…I never wanted to work a 9-5 job, going to the same place everyday and seeing the same people, I always wanted to explore…but explore with purpose. And that is exactly what I am working towards now.
Philosopher Mark Nepo says, “the soul’s only interest is to be as alive as possible, the aliveness of our soul is our career.”
As happy as I am with my friends and family at home, filming wildlife in South Africa is the only place where my soul truly feels alive, and to be able to make a career out of the thing that sets your heart on fire is the best thing ever!
You can make excuses forever, but the moment will never be perfect. You will never have enough money, or time, or there will always be other things that you will convince yourself are more important…but if this is what you really want, then you need to make it your priority to get there.
So do what you can with what you have, and every little bit of progress in whatever your venture is, is a step closer to achieving your biggest dreams, and every day that you make that progress, your long journey will appear a little shorter and a little lighter. So much so that soon you will look back and think, wow, have I really come that far already? Have I really achieved those magnificent things in my life that I used to only dream about?
So find whatever it is that ignites your soul, and chase that with every fibre of your being.
Take the leap and you will reap the rewards.
I read a silly little quote a while ago that my mind always seems to drift back to, “don’t let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon”. So don’t let the small problems that you will encounter, and there will probably be many of them, stop you from enjoying the bigger picture, your main goal, and the journey that you are currently on to achieve it.
I’ll finish with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”