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I’ve just hit the half-way mark on my year-long journey through New Zealand. I’m surprised by how content I am at the moment, considering I’ve settled into a job and a routine here rather than just traveling. It’s even more surprising considering just two months ago I was ready to pack up and leave the country altogether.
Before I arrived in New Zealand, I imagined I’d spend most of my time traveling, stopping only for a couple of months at a time to work. I never imagined I’d find a job two weeks after I first set foot on Kiwi soil, and I definitely never imagined I’d still be at the same job 6 months later. But not only am I here 6 months later, I’m planning to stay put for 4 more months!
Four to six months may not sound like a long time to most people, but to me it sounds like an eternity. For the last 3 years, I’ve only taken jobs for short periods of time, the longest being 5 months back in 2014. Forget the jobs—I haven’t even lived in the same place for more than 5 months since 2014. I move around a lot, and I’m lucky that I’ve been able to find seasonal and temporary work wherever I go.
So yeah, 6 months is like a lifetime. By the time I leave this job, I’ll have spent the better part of a year in one place (10 months). Yes, I did take a 2 month break from this job to wander around New Zealand, but it feels like I never left.
I tend to associate each place I live or spend a significant amount of time in with a lesson. My time working on a farm taught me how to stand up for myself instead of shying away from confrontation. My time in Seattle taught me how to be social and how to be more confident around people. My time in Wyoming taught me how to start working towards bigger goals instead of focusing on instant gratification.
During my 2 month break in June/July, I was struggling to figure out what New Zealand’s lesson would be. I felt like I wasn’t progressing in any way and that really messed with my mood. Suddenly, instead of enjoying my time in a new country, I was so fixated on finding a way to make some big step forward…a step forward to where, I didn’t know.
The anxiety from that whole situation started to weigh me down. I was stressed out and exhausted. I was in New Zealand, free to go anywhere and do anything, but I just felt like I was missing something. Since the moment my plane touched down in Auckland, I’ve been waiting to feel the “magic” of New Zealand—that special something everyone who visits seems to feel. I wasn’t feeling it. I was ready to pack up my little suitcase and catch a flight home. I didn’t want to be in New Zealand anymore.
Luckily, another thing I’ve learned in the past few years is to not make big decisions while anxious. When I’m anxious, my instinct is to run back to whatever or wherever feels familiar. After giving myself some time to think, I realized that going “home” would not make me any happier, it would not make my life easier, and I would more than likely be super upset with myself for leaving New Zealand.
When I left this job at the end of May, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d return. I said I would, and I thought I’d like to, but I was also hoping I’d find somewhere on the South Island to call home for a while. After all the unexpected emotions and roadblocks I experienced over the New Zealand winter, I was more than happy to be invited back to a job I knew, a place I knew, people I knew. It was exactly what I needed.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back here for 2 months already. My first stint only lasted 2 months, and it felt like fooooreeveeerrrr. I was restless because I hadn’t experienced anything else in New Zealand yet. Now that I’ve had a chance to see a bit of the country, I’m pretty content with settling into this one place again for a while.
I don’t know if I’m content because I wasn’t overly-impressed with the rest of New Zealand (blasphemy, I know), or if it’s because I’m starting to crave a little tiny bit more stability. Every plan and idea I had about how this working holiday would go has completely changed. What I’m doing now, what I want to do for the next 6 months, and what I’m focusing my time on is not what I thought. But I’ve found a compromise that I’m happy with. I’ve found out what it is I need here, what I need at this time in my life.
So I didn’t leave New Zealand early and I’m so happy I stayed. My feelings about this country are mixed, but I’m not so set on figuring them out just yet. Lessons only become clear in hindsight—and maybe that’s a lesson in itself.
Here’s to the next 6 months in New Zealand!
Have you ever felt like you wanted to leave a place earlier than planned while traveling? What did you do?
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