If you saw my recent post on Instagram, you’ll know that lately I’m feeling pretty grateful (and a tad bit introspective.)
Last night, I sat on the beach with a cold beer in my hand and my new husband by my side. We laughed, we held hands, and we talked about the amazing 7 months we have ahead of us. And as the sun set, I caught myself reflecting on all the chapters of my life that have brought me to this moment.
Right now I’m living a life that my younger self could never even have imagined and I’m pretty blown away by how everything has turned out. Seriously, how did I get here?
To be honest … it’s pretty complicated! But when I look back and trace the messy web of my life, I can see the one habit that has consistently fuelled everything awesome in my life.
I know how to take chances – how to push through the fear and take a leap of faith.
I’m sharing this (and I truly hope it does not come across as boastful), because I think sometimes everyone needs to hear that the path you see in front of you doesn’t have to be the path you follow. It’s not always easy, but taking chances is how I’ve learned to grow and change.
The title of this post is actually a bit misleading. At the end of the day, I can’t tell you how to take chances, but I can share one of my stories and hopefully inspire you to be vulnerable, take risks and push the limit of your comfort zone (because that’s where the magic happens!)
This is a love story; one week ago I married my best friend and my soul mate. But I’m going to start with something not so romantic: This is my second marriage. I’ll be honest – even though divorce is ‘common’ these days, writing those words is uncomfortable.
The short version of a long story that I won’t be sharing is that my first marriage was to someone who wasn’t meant for me. I don’t regret getting married and I don’t feel it was a mistake, but it still stings a bit when I talk about it.
I’ve travelled the world alone and I’ve gotten myself into some pretty sticky situations, but still – leaving my marriage was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Before I got married I had a fairly blasé attitude about divorce, but once I was looking down the barrel I honestly could not imagine how I could make it to the other side. I was horribly afraid of letting everyone down.
Which brings me to the first lesson in taking chances: when you take a risk and it doesn’t work out the world doesn’t end. It was scary and painful and my life felt upside down for awhile, but at the end of the day I walked away a bit wiser and a bit more worldly.
Our ‘failures’ (and I use that word loosely) are our biggest teachers.
I met my Englishman (the man I married last Friday) in a backpacker’s hostel, half a world away from home. We were staying in the same dorm room.
I was travelling through Europe alone and, although I travelled alone a lot when I was younger, I was feeling uncomfortable. At 31, I felt old and out of place. My first night in the hostel I was too shy to talk to anyone and I spent the evening with my book for company.
The second night, some friendly folks invited me to play a game of cards. A few beers and a few hours later I found myself laughing hilariously with a charming Englishman by my side.
The next few days were beautiful and I had a typical holiday romance; we held hands and kissed in alleyways and talked late into the night.
Then all holiday romances come to an end, right? The day came and he had a flight booked back to London and I had a train to catch.
But instead, he taught me something about taking chances. Instead of boarding his flight, he caught the train with me.
And we rode into the sunset and lived happily ever after.
Not quite! He joined me on my travels and we spent a few more beautiful, utterly romantic days together, but we were only delaying the inevitable. Soon it was time to say goodbye. (Damn you reality.)
He flew to London and I flew to the States, to stay with my mum and to try to figure out what on earth I was doing. At this stage, the only thing I knew for sure was that I was head over heels in love with a man I had known for precisely 8 days.
Every reasonable bone in my body knew I was being foolish. I had just ended a long term relationship, I was flat broke and staying with my mum. To further complicate things, I knew I really needed to get back to Australia (I’m American but I’ve been living in Australia since my early twenties). I had a mortgage, a car loan, and a adult life waiting for me to come home and sort out.
A serious relationship, with a man I barely knew, who lived an ocean away (adding a third continent to my mixed up life), was the last thing I needed.
Or so I told myself … but the truth is I was afraid – afraid of being vulnerable, of getting hurt, of looking ridiculously stupid, and of all the hard work that would surely come with pursuing this relationship.
But here comes the next lesson about taking chances: ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen?” I was risking pride, ego, time, effort and money … but I’ve been embarrassed, I’ve been tired and I’ve been poor. It’s not fun, but it’s nothing I can’t live with or overcome.
But what I can’t live with, what I can’t face, and what I fear most is regret.
Within the month we both booked flights to see each other again.
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We were apart for 4 months and then spent 5 weeks together, hopping between the US and UK. And then, having spent less than 2 months actually together, we made an elaborate plan.
For the next 8 months we travelled between the UK and Southeast Asia; I maxed out my credit cards and drained my savings; we did everything we could to stay together, until the timing was right and I brought my Englishman back to Australia.
And two years after that, last Friday, we got married.
Now I have a partner (in every sense of the word) who shares my values, my hopes and my dreams. (Remember that wisdom I talked about learning from my first marriage? The best relationship advice I can offer is find someone whose core values are in line with yours.)
And that is my love story, one of the many chapters that has brought me to this point in my life! I hope you’ve enjoyed my story and I hope you remember to listen to your heart, take your own chances, and never settle for anything less than a life you love.
What chances have you taken (or would you like to take) in love + life? Let me know in the comments! x
photo credit (top): Ed Gregory // (bottom) Laura Riccardi // Used with permission