I was 17, when I came across a shockingly inexpensive flight to Ireland in a newspaper, and I couldn’t think of anything that was holding me back. I was sold almost instantly. It was the first trip I took by myself, and my parents were super supportive of my decision. I booked the first few days at a hostel and let the rest of the trip unfold once I got there. I ended up taking a bus out to the cliffs of Moher, and as I was standing on the edge of these great, towering cliffs with the wind billowing around me, I felt completely alone for the very first time. It was honestly one of those formative moments where I discovered myself; learning that being alone didn’t mean that I was lonely.
I’ve travelled to about 28 countries since that first trip. I met my husband while travelling. Coincidentally, I also found my drive. I knew that by travelling on my own, I was doing something so many others were too hesitant to do. I wanted to find a way that I could use my writing to inspire others to experience this kind of spontaneous, independent travel, and also turn it into a viable business that I could take with me anywhere. I have always had a love for writing, and when I found the Creative Writing & Publishing program at Sheridan, it drew me in right away.
When I went into the program, I was more interested in the creative side of it. I had no idea that this program would also reveal my passion for editing. It helped me discover so much more about the industry. I’m in my fourth year now, and since I’ve been in the program, I’ve gained a real sense of direction as to what I want to do and who I want to be. I’m at the brink of graduating with only four credits left, and I'm nowhere near where I thought I would’ve been when I started.
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten was that if it makes you happy, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else. Life is unpredictable, and you’re going to get curveballs hurled at you every once in a while. I’ve based my life around the ability to just pick up and go. I think it’s so important to create the life you want for yourself and to not let all the external pressures sway you from pursuing your dreams. What’s stopping you? If you know what you want, go make it happen.
When you know your own values and passions, life becomes more about who you share them with rather than where you’re planted. I often feel more at home in the middle of nowhere than I do in the home I grew up in because I’ve found home in myself, and in the person I’ve chosen to spend my life with.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that your path isn’t determined by anyone but yourself, and if you spend some time looking inward and exploring the life you really, truly want (not the life you think you should want because of what you see in others) you’ll find a way to get it. For me, it was that cheap flight on the last page of the newspaper.
(Interviewed and written by Hazel Mekkattukulam; photos provided by interviewee)