I know it is actually meant to be a compliment, but I can’t help feeling just a little offended or irked every time someone tells me, “Wow, you’re so lucky you’ve lived abroad and traveled. I wish I could have done that!” I never know how to respond; it’s awkward. And no one seems to believe me when I say, “You could do it to!”
While I agree, I am very lucky indeed; I was lucky to be born into a home filled with love, encouragement, trust, and a lot of space for adventure (not many other kids I knew had their own horse, car, and snowmobile by the age of 12). I was lucky that my parents allowed me to be independent. They endorsed my sometimes obscure ideas, and they loved me through every weird phase (yes, even those dreadful teenage years).
But this kind of luck is a waste, if it is not cashed in. This kind of luck goes sour, if you don’t put in the extra work behind the scenes.
To me the word “Luck” has such a passive connotation. I have spent the better part of the last 10 years living away from home, in as many as 3 other States, 2 foreign countries, and living on board 1 boat. I can look back on every single time I packed up and moved away from home and clearly remember the struggles and hard work I put in to seize each of those opportunities.
I was just 16 years old the first time I decided I wanted to explore the world beyond my backyard. I was lucky to have a mother who was a strong, encouraging force in my corner, who made it possible for me to become an exchange student. I was lucky to have families on the other side ready to welcome me into their homes. But I also had to step up to the plate; filling out applications, sitting through interviews, orientations, and ultimately having the courage to board a plane, alone, bound for the far away land of South Africa.
The time I spent living and working on a private luxury yacht in the Caribbean was the result of some lucky breaks and a hell of a lot of hard work. I walked for miles in the sticky Florida heat to reach marinas where I could distribute my CV and business cards, just praying one captain would be crazy enough to give a novice like me a chance. That eventually happened, but not before my Sperrys were good and worn in.
I have made some lucky connections along the way that have enabled me to move to Germany. Those lucky connections would be a waste if I were not ready and willing to put in the work that it can take to move across the globe and build a life on unfamiliar turf. New customs, learning a language, and making friends can be fun but also extremely exhausting.
I have had some good luck in life, I will not argue that. But I do not attribute the places I have seen, or the things I have done, to a passive chance draw of the cards. I am happy to leave luck to the gamblers, while I continue actively tackling my dreams head on.
wandering around Rome’s Colosseum in the rain