Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Making the craziest decision of my life, to leave my comfortable life, family, friends and job in Johannesburg to journey off and meet the world has been the greatest gift I've ever given myself. A year ago today, I was chatting with my family about taking a year off. I felt suffocated, confused, broken, like I needed some time out for me to remember who I am and who I want to be.
A year ago it was a dream, something I don't think anyone really thought I'd do and something I didn't think I was brave enough to do either. And yet the more I spoke about it, the more possible it seemed.
Now here I sit in chilly England, a cup of warm tea next to me, having just enjoyed a wonderful festive season with my once-distant-relatives, new friends and adopted family. My heart is full. I've pulled the heels back on, but they're a little lower these days. My hundreds of 4-6 inch stilettos have been replaced by 3 pairs of practical black 2 inch pumps, 2 pairs of ballet flats, a pair of trainers, a set of unicorn slippers and 2 pairs of boots. That's it. I may have stepped down heel wise and career wise, but I've taken a giant leap in experiences and happiness. In many ways I am standing tall at the top of my podium.
In the months past my senses have been stretched, my eyes opened and my taste for life more finely tuned. I've seen 13 countries. I've backpacked with little more than a few pieces of clothing on my back. I've begged a hostel receptionist in Edinburgh for padlock cutters, in the middle of the night, wearing nothing more than a pair of knickers and a shroud of humility. I've been lost in Paris. I've lost my heart to Slovenia. I've been pulled out of the mud on the way to a job interview by a door man called Bob. I've been pushed into eating things I'd never usually touch and into drinking all the wine. I've reconnected with old friends and I've made new ones. I've missed my family dearly and I've made a global one. I've missed the passing of Mandela, the singing of people in the streets, and a moment of unity in Africa. But I've watched my own rebirth. I've felt parts of me die so that other parts can live again. I've pulled off my tiara and I've crawled through the mud.
Sometimes being a little crazy (though I wouldn't suggest everyone should quit their job and go travelling!) can help you find your best sanity. Try something new. Go somewhere different. Make friends with an unlikely companion. Expose yourself to that which could show you new things about the world and about yourself. Dream. We all have the right to dream. To heal. To feel safe. To be accepted for who we are.
First published on 31 December 2013, on highheelers.blogspot.com. Used with permission.