Giving and Receiving sets the scene.
As I board the plane, my sister’s words echo in my ears: “Always running away, that’s your problem. Why can’t you settle down?” This had always been my problem, never conventional and at 30, still with no intention to settle down and have kids—instead I was off to the ‘teardrop’ island of Sri Lanka to teach them.
Eager eyes stared and small mouths smiled at me, white teeth gleaming from grubby faces. The weariness of ten travel hours faded as my “Hello!” was answered by a chorus of giggles that erupted from behind cupped hands. Tropical heat simmered in the windowless classroom, yet the children focused with rapt attention on my English lesson. Street sounds assailed, but tiny ears ignored the symphony of horns, vendors’ shouts and temple chanting.
That night, supine in bed I thought once again about my sister’s comments. As the days progressed, I realised I loved being ‘unconventional’, there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me! I loved these kids and everything they taught me about humanity, humility and pureness.
This process of going abroad to a culture severely different to my own helped set precedence. My time in Sri Lanka dulled that nagging voice in the back of my head—that it was wrong for a woman in her 30’s to not be ‘settled’ in a conventional, socially acceptable way. This paved the way for me to then undertake my first degree in my mid-30’s, and receive a very good grade for my International Relations study. What followed was yet more travelling, yet this time settling (of sorts) in the beautiful country of Greece.
Being from Europe, ‘travel’ for me was not ‘travel’ unless it entailed a plane journey of over 4 hours, and CERTAINLY it wasn’t really ‘travel’ if it was in Europe. But who would’ve thought this country on the cusp of Europe could offer such diversity in culture, food and mentality? I LOVE it here and have found myself ‘settling’ for the time being (at least the last 3.5 years), albeit still not with the pre-requisite husband and kids, but I am HAPPY. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I LOVE my life…that nagging voice that questions if I am always running away knows the answer: only I know myself, no-one has the right to squash other people’s dreams because they’re perceived out of the ‘norm’ or that person is unconventional.
I hope others have the strength to follow their gut instincts and do what they know is best for them because ultimately, you will be doing everyone else a favour too: a happier and more content ‘you’ benefits everyone else around you. Remember: it’s the unconventional amongst us that help make the biggest changes.
Rebecca Hall’s Bio
At 30 years old, Rebecca decided she’d had enough of trying to fit into everybody else’s view of how to live life: a long term job (never mind that it bored her, literally, to tears) and now time to find a man to settle down with.
So, she sold her apartment, used the money to help fund a 4 month volunteer programme teaching English in a rural, provincial school in Sri Lanka before continuing on her worldwide travels to New Zealand, the South Pacific and coast to coast across the USA.
Upon her return, she undertook her first degree and gained a high score for her studies in International Relations & Sociology, proceeded to further study of how to teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and is settled for the time being in Athens, Greece teaching English, voiceover work and maintaining a blog about her adventures in this beautiful, historical, misrepresented European country. She has also taught in Cambodia, Cairo Egypt and found herself teaching dour, Russian and Eastern European sailors on board a container ship across the Atlantic Ocean!
Join Rebecca on her social media sites:
Sonia Marsh Says: I love your Gutsy, unconventional approach to life; enjoying things while you can, and not being “stuck” in a place or a job you don’t like. Good for you for finding happiness somewhere other than where you were born and raised. I can still relate to the “always running away,” that’s something that has stayed with me, even though I’m much older than you.
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