My boyfriend and I dreamed about leaving behind the big city lights for a quiet coastal life in a small town. We were done with the Joneses, done with the crime and the noise and the traffic and the constant manic energy that feels like its eating you from inside.
So we moved.
We sold our house in Joburg, packed up our things, our businesses, our four-legged kids, and bought a piece of land near the sea and at the edge of a deep green forest. I still remember the day we left … it felt like absolute freedom. Finally, we had left every single thing we didn’t like about our lives in the dust.
Or so I thought.
The Garden Route was our idea of paradise. It was our ultimate existence. The ideal we’d worked towards for years. We relished the notion of all that quiet space, we clung onto the fantasy of inspiration washing over our creative spirits, unfettered, uninhibited, uncomplicated. We loved the thought of leaving the madness behind.
But we took the madness with us.
Coastal life was everything we wanted it to be. But we were still us. More to the point, I was still me. Everything around me had changed, but I was still the same. Only now I had no more excuses left to hide behind. I wasn’t wasting time in traffic jams anymore, or living behind high-tech alarm systems and burglar bars, or even being side-tracked anymore by shiny big-city distractions. All my big city excuses had vanished.
And I felt completely naked.
I realised that not one of my unfulfilled desires had anything to do with any external influences. I finally had to accept that it was all down to me. If I wanted to be fearless, focussed, and inspired, if I wanted to slow down, write better, be healthier, and live the life I continuously daydreamed about, it would be me that would have to change. Not my surroundings. I would have to dig deep, build a bridge, and kick my own butt over it.
So the change began.
I pushed myself further on every new brief that came my way. I set aside sacred, uninterrupted time to work on my own screenplays. I made a list of things that I wanted do to and started doing them. I got honest about the thoughts and things and feelings that held me back and started to find ways to roundhouse-kick them.
Now I’m having a lot more fun.
I like that I can walk on the beach instead of going to the gym. I love that I see forests and mountains and lakes and the big blue sea instead of skyscrapers and smog. I love the fresh air and the open space. That it can be so quiet I can hear my own heart beating. That it can be so peaceful and ‘real’ and heart-achingly beautiful …
But I still have to consciously face my fears, work through my issues, my emotions, plot my goals, put one foot in front of the other, and remind myself to slow down, to savour it, to be in it, to live it. Constantly.
I am a work in progress.
Read next: Finding Happy