Starting again (again) in your late twenties

Brooke Saward | Author of World of Wanderlust

Two months ago I was walking down the main road of Seapoint, a seaside neighbourhood of Cape Town, to my daily pilates class. It was just another week killing time before I could catch a flight “home” to Australia and I use the term home lightly because if I’m honest, I have a fickle concept of what (or where) home is. And then I realised I was here starting again, again.

I often say home is everywhere and nowhere.

And if I can sum up my sense of self in just one sentence, that would be it.

I’ve been living out of a suitcase for approximately eight years. It was back in 2012 when I created this corner of the internet (formally known as a blog) and began documenting my adventure abroad. Said adventure has since been deemed a gap year, which is probably just a term our parents made up to answer their friends at dinner parties when they asked

“So where is that lovely daughter of yours now?”

“She’s taking a gap year,” they would dutifully respond. As if the whimsical term “gap year” could be somewhat more palpable than

“She has no clue what *the fuck* she is doing with her life”.

And for one reason or another, that gap year didn’t stop. My travel journal online turned into a full-fledged career, a product of both great fortune and timing. Normally I would be modest and leave it at that, but I don’t want to give you false hope into believing any part of it was that easy. It was also a lot of work, countless sleepless nights and constant jet lag. That’s not to butter my own crumpet, but just a fact. Managing a multimedia company in your twenties is hard work. “Blogger” is a loose term thrown around for someone who is – in fact – a photographer, copy-writer, editor, marketer, analytical reporter and expectations manager. And that’s not even the half of it.

But there are many bloggers, writers and photographers who have not reached the same heights of their career, despite their work being much better than mine. That’s where timing and great fortune come into play.

Brooke Saward in Paris
une table pour un, s’il vous plaît

If you’ve been following my story for a while now you will know I haven’t had the same great fortune when it comes to dating. That’s not to say I have dated a bunch of assholes (in some cases I have), but the old saying is true: it takes two to tango. Often at times I wasn’t ready, wasn’t the right person or sometimes I was the right person for the right person, at the wrong time. And sometimes the same was true in reverse.

But where am I in the story now?

A little over a year ago I shared with you all that I would be moving to Cape Town, South Africa. It all happened quite abruptly online as it did in real life, as I raced to pack my bags and follow the guy I loved to a foreign country. If you want to know why I did that, you can find some answers here. And if you want to know why I undid that, you will get some juicy details here.

That doesn’t even close to cover it but I’m saving the best parts for a little thing I’d like to call my memoir. If you want to know first when that will be available for pre-order, you can register here. And now that you have twelve tabs open on your internet browser, we can move on with the *current* story.

Moving back to Australia

Just as fast as I moved over to South Africa, it seemed, I moved back to Australia. It was just shy of twelve months for those wondering, but many of those months were spent curled up in a ball on my bed watching the sun travel through the sky from east to west. That was thanks to a little virus we’d all rather not speak by name (Voldemort vibes), of which subjected South Africans and foreign nationals stuck there to partake in a 100-day hard lockdown.

But you didn’t come here for a recount of my year turning pale with limited sunlight and an illegal wine merchant (did I mention alcohol was illegal throughout the lockdown?) You came here to find out what happened to him and why I returned to Australia almost as quickly as I ran from it.

For as long as I can remember I have been running away. There is often a negative connotation attached to the sentiment of running away, but perhaps you could think of it more as running toward… something. I don’t know what, exactly, and I probably never will. That’s the whole trick of this thing called life, you only really figure it out if you settle with the notion of never figuring it out. Comprende?

From the outside looking in, my life probably looks like a jumbled mess. In fact, I hope it does. I hope you don’t look at me and think I have it all figured out (I don’t) and I certainly hope you don’t think I care what anyone else thinks about that.

You see the thing is, I don’t mind if you think I’m a hot mess. Life is messy. The sooner you come to terms with that and swallow your pride (ahem, that happened long ago when I started sharing bad dating stories online), the sooner you enjoy going along for the ride.

So we broke up? So what. Not everyone you meet is going to fill the shoes you have laid out for them.

So I moved across the world and then moved back? My only regret is not being able to fit my smoothie blender in my suitcase on the journey back (i’m still bitter about that).

My point is that almost nothing works out the way you had planned. The sooner you set fewer expectations of yourself, the sooner you skip the whole notion of disappointment.

Okay fine, but, what next?

If I could say anything about the past year it would be that it was ~ unexpected. Could any of us truly predict a global pandemic? (don’t answer that if you’ve read anything ever because yes, it was predicted).

But none of us really saw this thing coming.

So when you move home to your parents’ house or pack up your bags and move countries during a global pandemic and someone asks you “what’s next?” Perhaps ask them the same thing.

The truth is none of us knows. And if I could take one ounce of wisdom from this past year it is to relish in the fact of not knowing.

You don’t know if a relationship is ever going to work out – but you get involved anyway.

You don’t know if you will love a new city or country you relocate to enough to stay forever, but you still go along for the ride.

You don’t know if you’re always going to want to do “that job” with “that degree” that you studied at University. But you still spend four years of your life working towards it, know you will probably hate it, pivot somewhere in your mid-thirties and continue to tell your peers “it was a good life experience”.

Life is, if nothing else, about change. It is about change because change makes you uncomfortable and forces you to adapt. Adapting makes you resilient. Resilience makes you unstoppable.

Stop worrying about what anyone thinks. Do it anyway. And be damn proud for what you did – for how long you did it and who you shared it with.

Wouldn’t you rather tell stories on your death bed instead of wish after the things you didn’t do?

I know I would.

Brooke Saward | Author of World of Wanderlust
Brooke Saward | Author of World of Wanderlust

wearing: tularosa shirt dress // alix yang onyx necklace

Where to find me:

I am on Instagram sharing what I love with the internet

I am working from home in Marketing for Ubuntu Travel Group

I am sometimes baking things at Charlie’s Dessert House, Launceston

I am about to share Youtube baking tutorials + barre workouts. Subscribe!

I will be back sharing my travels in Tasmania in January

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Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

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