What does a normal life look like? Ever since I was younger I have had an image in my mind of how a standard life is supposed to be; you go to school, graduate, choose a study from the hundreds that are being offered, and then you start working. You fall in love, get married, get children, and to make it complete you add a dog or a cat to the family. That’s how the life of my parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents looked like. But what if this life doesn’t suit me?
When I was younger I always used to tell my parents that when I grew up I wanted to live in Spain. My dad thought it was a great idea, but my mom wanted to stay in the Netherlands, she is a flight attendant and regularly goes abroad anyways. When I started my studies I had the opportunity to finally go to Spain for a longer period. I had the time of my life and I felt more at home there than I did in the Netherlands. I decided to move to Spain by myself where I met my Spanish boyfriend. In the beginning I had this feeling of guilt towards my friends and family that I couldn’t get rid of. I left them and chose to not see them that often anymore, maybe they will blame me for that. There were certainly a few friends who couldn’t appreciate me leaving, but in the end that made sure that now I am only surrounded by people who love me unconditionally and that the feeling of guilt eventually went away.
So I started with building my own life in Spain. My boyfriend and I moved in together in an apartment that we had to fully renovate ourselves. I have a job in a Dutch company where I enjoy going to every time. One day, my boyfriend and I were walking down the street when we saw a puppy. We ended up having a conversation with the owner who told us that there were two more puppies left but that no one wanted them so they would be brought to the shelter the next day. We went to see the puppies and it was like love at first sight. Before we knew it we were on our way home with a puppy in the car. An apartment, a relationship, a job, a puppy… It sounds like I have everything in my life to be happy, but why doesn’t it feel like that?
Everyone that is close to me knows that I love travelling and making photos and videos while doing so. There are so many things that I still want to do; going backpacking in South-America and Asia, doing volunteer work in Africa, going island hopping with a boat… you name it. Now that I have built up this life in Spain, I have the feeling that I can’t do any of these things anymore, I can’t just leave my boyfriend alone for months and have him take care of our dog by himself. So I tried to accept it and push away the lust of wanting more, not only for myself but also for the people around me. How ungrateful would it sound if I tell people that with everything that I have I am still not fully happy?
One afternoon I was on the phone with my brother, somehow he always says the right thing and confirms the thing that deep down I already know. ‘’It’s okay to want more’’ is what he told me. I realised that this is my life and I am allowed to dream as big as I want. Of course this doesn’t mean that I should be unsatisfied with what I currently have, but it does mean that I can wish for more than that. I want to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, keep growing and discovering, but doing this while having a safety net under me; the life that I have built in Spain.
I decided to talk about it with my boyfriend and to my surprise he responded very understanding; ‘’Go travel and live the life that you want, I will be here when you get back’’ is what he said. I sent a message to my work to discuss the possibilities and they as well responded in the best way possible, they gave me the chance to work remotely! Upcoming November I will be going to Aruba for 1,5 month by myself, a place where I can completely relax and work from the beach!
I’ve learned that you don’t have to settle for something that doesn’t make you 100% happy. I could have kept shoving my feelings back inside out of fear of what other people would think, but instead everyone around me wanted what was best for me, which ensured that I am able to live my dream life. Of course I am going to miss my boyfriend and my now big dog very much, but I know that when I get back they will be waiting for me at the airport.