Stop playing small…

For most of my life, I have lived afraid. Don’t get me wrong, I lived life, I left my home, I went to work, I took opportunities when they arose — but only ever safely within my limits of comfort. Growing up in the country can do that to you — isolation, a key part of country life where holidays and dreams beyond the town life are just a pipe dream. At least that was the story I had told myself for years. So many of my friends had moved away for the city life, and some had left the borders of Australia to travel overseas and explore the world. But that was never something for me.. A farmer’s girlfriend, a country veterinary nurse, a small town netballer and the occassional holiday across Australia if we were lucky. Those were my dreams. Those were the goals I had set for myself. At least that was what I thought I had wanted.

A sensitive mind is easily influenced by the harshness and strength of others. A small life, was okay… why did I need more when it was all I had ever known? Yet at the back of my mind, I always had this unconscious desire for more… but no, it would surely pass.

Sometimes it is only when exceptional things happen in one’s life that require exceptional changes or an exceptional kick up the arse. The kind of changes that ask you to stop playing small, to grab life by the balls and start owning who you are and what you truly want. The kind that knocks you on your ass, and leaves you lying there, empty, alone and lost.

I could sit there, miserable in my own empty life, accepting small for what it was, or I could pick myself up and use what had happened to steer a new path. It was a longwinded path, with many rocky turns and wobbly bits.

First I decided that living with my parents was not going to help me discover myself so I moved to a cottage over a lake. Secondly, although I was fantastic at my job as a veterinary nurse and had completed all of my study, I bloody hated it. On the back of a whim and a high school dream, I began a degree in education, studying full time after work while continuing my career as a veterinary nurse until the came came when I could finally leave — with every storm comes sunshine, but this storm lasted a solid two years before an opporunity arose. I found myself waking up each day, deciding which job I needed to drive to — part time veterinary nurse, part time early childhood worker, full time university student. Wowwwww, there was no time to think about my old life that was for sure! 4 years on, and I found myself in the best position possible, being selected for a full time preschool teacher position, fresh out of university, fresh out of childcare and single as a pringle! Could life get any better? Of course it could, because we were not made with roots.

At the end of my first teaching year, I had a choice. To stay or to go? If I stayed I would have a comfortable teaching role I loved, in a job I knew, within an arms reach of the family home… Or I could leave, move closer to the city and settle in a new small town location, further from what I knew, in a new teaching job. What to do, what to do, what to do?!

If the past 4 years had taught me anything it was to stop playing small. Stop pretending like the world isn’t for you. Stop pretending like the town you had grown up in was the only place to be. Stop pretending like your family would fall apart if you left. Stop pretending like you weren’t made for this wild, vast and wonderful life.

Instead, I went with option 3. It seems that the opportunities that present themselves where one would assume requires the most amount of thinking, were in fact the opportunities which I gave the least amount of though to. Because, my mind is an overactive mind and too much thought only shrinks my courage until it takes me back to living a small life of small opportunties in a small world.

So, option 3: Give yourself 3 months to apply for a working visa, sign up with a teaching agency, pack a suitcase and move to the UK where the sun don’t shine. Of course, option 3, came with challenges like “How could you leave us!” “You will miss Australia too much!” “The weather is shit!” “You’ll be back before you know it!”. Well guess what? I am on a journey to play life big, because I am done playing small.

And I tell you what, in the 1.5 years since making this decision my life has been the most epic, terrifying, exciting, adventurous, explorative, exhausting and challenging time of my life, and I wouldn’t change it for a second. In 1 week of my new UK life, I moved into the town of Windsor, 200m from the Queen’s weekend residence, I met the love of my life teaching Spanish in my primary school , I met the best bunch of friends— most of which are from somewhere else, because us internationals like to stick together over a Pimms, banter and a good Wetherspoons feed. I tell you what, teaching in an Australian kindergarten has got nothing on English education in a primary school — talk about expectations and perfectionism 101! But with primary school teaching comes holidays, and with holidays comes Europeeeee ***half term in Wales, Easter in Scotland & Italy, Summer in France, Belgium & Spain,a Another half term in the Czech Republic & Germany, Christmas in Spain (using google translate for all family-in-law communication?!), half term in Ireland, Easter back in Australia, and tomorrow I jet off to Budapest for a Hunagrian good time! All the while planning my 6 week Summer across a whole lot more of Europe!***

The timing of life is everything to me, if I had chosen to stay in my shitty job as a vet nurse, with minimal career prospects, I wouldn’t have decided to study a teaching degree on a whim, and find my passion in teaching. If I hadn’t studied teaching in my tiny town believing the story I had told myself then I would never have had the life experiences, met the people I now call my close friends, or found the love of my life on the other side of the world, where my life will now be a solid blurred mixture of Australia & Spain and I now find myself trying to learn Spanish before my future children can speak a language I cannot understand (just imagine the catastrophe of it!)

My life will never be the same and for that I am eternally grateful for my bravery and courage to follow dreams, followed by chances, followed by more opportunties. With every opporunity comes a new chance for change and growth, so instead of sitting back and telling yourself, yea na that’s not for me, think about it and decide whether you’re saying no out of truth or no out of fear? Because fear can only hold you back, and once you stop pretending small or playing small, and you step through those doors of courage and shout “halle-bloody-lujah, world come at me!” then you will never truly know the exceptional experiences, people, cultures, dreams and opporutnties that light your path.

Stop playing small, because the day a small town farm girl wrote herself a new story, her life changed forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *