10 Life Lessons I Learned From Moving Solo Across The World
and how I discovered myself and gained the confidence to be who I truly am.
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Hey guys! It’s Erin here. I am so excited to share the story of my friend and ex-colleague, Shannon Rehsler with you today.
Shannon has been an inspiration to me with her tale of spontaneity and positivity, which you’re about to read. I worked with Shannon for a while in our hometown on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. After going through a breakup, she boldly decided to pack up and leave her entire life behind to go on the adventure of a lifetime, while her friends, family, and colleagues cheered her on from the sidelines.
Her story is important to me because when Shannon was going through a split from her long-time partner, I found out I was pregnant. Both of our lives were changing exponentially, and ironically, they were the opposite of what we thought they would be. Let me explain.
See, Shannon was in a long-term relationship, and I’m sure she thought she would be walking in my shoes by then: having a baby, settling down, making a family.
I, on the other hand, being a career-obsessed designer, thought I would be in Shannon’s shoes: packing up, travelling the world, living spontaneously.
But as it turns out, life had something very different planned for both of us. When Shannon’s life was uprooted and changed forever, I could see life being breathed back into her soul. I could feel opportunities open up for Shannon. And when my partner and I found out we were expecting a baby, life was being breathed back into me in a very different way as well.
Life can change at the drop of a hat, but it worked out perfectly for both of us. When I began to launch my blog, I knew that I had to reach out to Shannon so she could share her story with us.
Here is Shannon’s story and advice, in her own words:
01. Not Having a Plan Can Be the Best Plan
I’m not going to lie — I’m a person who likes plans, making lists, following rules, colouring inside the lines. You get the picture.
But that all changed when I booked a one-way flight to Australia with accommodations for only my first seven days. Obviously, I had ideas about where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see, and how I wanted to spend my time. But, I also wanted to be able to make decisions in the moment. What I learned was that when you don’t have a plan, whatever happens will be perfect.
Because I didn’t have expectations or rules for myself, everything I did was just what I wanted to do, and I can honestly say I have no regrets.
02. Stop the Constant Comparisons
Everyone’s life is different, and we are all following our own path.
It’s normal to compare your life to those around you and think: Why don’t I have that? Why am I not where they are?
I learned to accept that my life wasn’t turning out to be the same as my friends. What I thought I was meant to do and what I thought my life should look like, was not actually meant for me . . . at least not at that time. I could fight it, worry about it, and cry about it… or I could accept it and choose to find my own path, and see where it took me.
I realized I had to find my own path, who I was meant to be, and what I was meant to do. It turns out, what I needed was to move to Australia, completely by myself. What?!
So I applied for a visa, booked a plane ticket and accommodations for seven days. Five months later, I boarded a plane and flew away from my home to find my own path and embrace my new life.
03. Take Risks
This might not be a new piece of advice, but… when was the last time you actually did something that scared you? Big or small. Be honest! Has it been a while – maybe too long?
I found that when you step outside of your comfort zone, you are building your confidence. Put yourself out there and try something new, or go somewhere new!
Making the decision to move to Australia was the biggest risk I had taken in my life thus far, and I am so happy I did it because the outcome was amazing. If you take a risk and things don’t work out, shake it off; at least you know you tried and I bet you will still learn something from it.
04. What My Values Are And What Really Matters
This is something I am still learning, and something that will change and develop as time goes on.
You are the only one that can decide what your priorities are and what serves you best in your life. You do not have an obligation to explain or apologize for what is important to you and what is not.
When you say yes to something (or someone), are you saying no to yourself?
I ask myself this when deciding what to do in my life. I learned how to put myself and my needs first after putting myself last for so long. I am finally spending time doing things I love and things that make my heart happy and full. I have learned to stop feeling guilty about saying no to something that I know will not serve my best interests in the long run.
05. How to Put Myself First, Always
I am so happy to have learned how to value myself, although I still need daily reminders. Self-value goes hand-in-hand with discovering what’s important in our lives.
I spent most of my teenage years and early 20’s putting other people first. I was constantly worrying too much about what other people thought of me, and how my actions would affect them. I’ve finally taken the time to learn what my needs are. I’ve learned how to ask myself what I want in order to become the best possible version of myself.
06. New Friendships Are Possible
I met some truly amazing people in Australia.
Not just people that were fun to hang out with, but people that I traveled with, lived with, and learned lessons from. These are people that were once strangers but that I now call true friends. Even though we’re separated by land and ocean, I know I will see them again.
To be honest, trying to make new friends can be just as scary as dating new people, but this is a risk you should take! You never know who is out there, waiting to share their story with you.
You do not need to move to the other side of the world to make new friends, though. Join a new group, talk to someone you see often at the gym, or your local dog park. You can even reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while and reconnect with an old friend. Don’t let fear get in the way!
You’ll also notice that the more you put yourself out there, the more your confidence grows and the more comfortable you will become just being yourself.
07. How to Be Alone
Personally, I don’t mind being alone. As an introvert, I actually enjoy it.
But actually going places alone — like to dinner, the movies, or the beach — can still be a scary concept. It’s like going on a first date, but with yourself.
I’ve finally learned to enjoy things that were once scary, like owning my own schedule, going where I want when I want, sitting where I want, listening to my own music, and enjoying my own company.
When you learn to be alone, it allows you time to check in with yourself and how you are feeling. Doing things alone is another risk you can take that will help you gain confidence.
Seriously — try walking into a café and sitting at a table for one. Pick any table you want. Order your favourite drink and do something you enjoy like reading a book or writing. You could even just people-watch while you sip your coffee. You can leave whenever you are ready, and when you do, walk out with your head high and a smile.
I bet your date was awesome.
08. Not Everyone is Going to Like You, and That’s Okay
While you are out there taking risks, doing new things, and meeting new people, you have to know that not everyone is going to like you.
You don’t have to like everyone you meet, either. Remember: this does not make you a bad person. I have spent a lot of time during the past two years discovering who I am and learning to be comfortable being that person. We wish everyone would like us, of course, but first we need to like ourselves. When you like yourself enough, it doesn’t matter whether everyone else does in return.
Be yourself and let your true personality shine. The people that you attract and connect with are the ones that are meant to be a part of your journey.
09. You Can Always Go Home
Your family and friends — the people who care about you — are always going to welcome you back with open arms. No matter how long you have been away.
While I was in Australia following my own path, life at home kept moving forward. Situations and people do change, but the feeling of home will always be the same. It’s comforting to know that when you reconnect with people from your home, your relationships can pick up where they left off.
10. You Can Always Leave Again
Knowing that I am capable of moving to the other side of the world, making new friends and taking risks is empowering.
Knowing that I can move again at any time makes my life better in many ways. I am excited to see where my path will lead next as I settle into a new life in Victoria, British Columbia. As I move to a new house and start a new job, I’m sure this next chapter of my life will teach me new lessons.
I am going to try and live in the moment and continue to put myself first in order to create the life I want.
I hope that you will, too. What can life be like when we reclaim that confidence and self-love for ourselves?
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If you loved Shannon’s story, leave us a comment below! Tell us what you’re thinking or share your own personal story with us.
Shannon Rehsler • Guest Blogger
Hey! I’m Shannon. I’m 26 years old and I live in Victoria, British Columbia. I spent a year living in Australia and my time there was so amazing. It was everything I didn’t know my life needed.
I’ve always liked poetry and writing; I had an English teacher once tell me I should write children’s books. However, most of my writing is done in a journal and for my eyes only, until I started my blog Wonderland.
My goal is to be able to reach someone . . . to write something that could help someone the way writing helps me. In my spare time, I enjoy doing yoga, pilates, barre, going hiking or to the beach. A few of my other favourite things include plants, flowers, coffee and dancing.