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“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” ~ Anaïs Nin
My mother remembers better than I do the bizarre outfits I would choose for myself when I was four years old.
She always made sure to let everyone know that, “Toby had dressed herself today,” and that she was in no way responsible for the fashion disasters. Stripes mixed with animal prints. Objectively irreconcilable color palettes. I wish I had photo evidence, but you get the idea.
I have never—and I mean never—liked to follow the rules. I have always—and I mean always—sought to express myself, be it through dress, dance, words, art, or life itself. More and more, I have been thinking about how designing a unique, joyful lifestyle can be one of the greatest possible works of art. The beauty is in the process far more than the product.
I have lived nomadically. I have made my home in around a dozen countries. I have called myself author, editor, teacher, farmer, bartender, consultant, storyteller, and content witch. I have lived on farms, at beaches, and in cities. The details (the what or how) may change, but I always put the following values (the why) first: health and well-being, joy and vitality, purpose and meaning, growth, and connection. My life is an evolving piece of living art—my only masterpiece.
Below, fellow wanderer, Sophie, and I will share a few of the tools we have used to design unique lifestyles that nourish our souls, connect us with our sense of self, and make us feel brilliantly free.
We hope these insights may be of benefit to others seeking to break free of limitations and design the lifestyle of their dreams:
1. Ignore the naysayers.
Jealousy or fear of change can sometimes show up in ugly ways when it comes to how other people respond to your life choices. If you are trying to do something different—be it an unconventional job, a long-term journey, an extended sabbatical, a new spiritual path, or any other shift, however small—someone is bound to take it personally. So don’t take anyone’s negative, pessimistic, or even actively antagonistic reactions to your lifestyle as something personal—it’s not.
If you’re wanting to do something different, someone will tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t. Don’t listen. Keep doing you.
2. Keep your dreams a secret until they are manifested.
This can sound so simple yet it can be hard to actually achieve. When one has a new idea or connects with a new soul-dream, gift, or project that may surprise or disorientate their entourage, family, or friends, it is best to not share it straightaway. In fact, if one does, their own idea will start and mix with other people’s opinions and own individual fears about it. The project will still be a bud, it hasn’t even hatched out from the ground yet; however, its “vibration” and energy is already mixed with other people’s thoughts.
A man or woman walking the individual path must understand that other people’s reactions are mainly projections, which means, the way they would feel in their own situation or if they were about to do the same thing. As a consequence, we need to grow our art, self-expression, or travel adventures and work on our dream first. Share with everybody when your project is clear enough in your heart so that external voices can’t affect you.
3. Skip the nine-to-five.
Can you design a rich and nourishing life and work a traditional job? Of course you can! Personally, however, I have found great freedom in working in a wide variety of industries and job types, none of which required office time. From remote work, like editing and content writing, to facilitating yoga, self-defense, and movement classes, consulting, coaching, hospitality, and work exchange, I really have done my best to try a little bit of everything.
Exploring a variety of work options has helped me diversify my income streams (another form of freedom), learn a ton about many industries and worldviews, grow as a human being, and discover what I love to do (it’s a long, growing list!). I don’t think it’s ever too late to begin this exploration, either. I’m still discovering my strengths, learning new skills, and welcoming growth every single day.
4. Understand that your path is unique and that therefore it will differ from others.
On the path of freedom, one must understand that they may quickly part ways with groups and communities where everybody does or thinks the same. The authentic path may feel a lonely road at times, but this is exactly how it should be.
If I take a look back on previous years, I would have never left my nine-to-five job, travelled and lived abroad, or even experienced the relationships that I did experience if I tried to keep following the main road. One must accept that at some point, they will disengage, almost partly, from the social groups they were a part of. They must let go of the need to be approved or to fit in. And each step of the way, they must live their own experiences and trust what they see. This is how they develop their own thinking, reveal deep and unique personality traits, talents, or gifts.
“Some steps need to be taken alone. It’s the only way to figure out where you need to go and who you need to be.” ~ Unknown
5. Trust your intuition.
Ten years ago, I never could have imagined the life I live today. It is important to dream big, create explosions of inspiration in the form of vision boards or journaling, and be intentional about designing the life you want to live. But it is also critical to allow enough flexibility and open-mindedness for that life to find you.
What if you haven’t thought of the life of your dreams yet? What if it’s waiting for you at the next fork in the road? I believe the key is trusting that wise voice of intuition rumbling in your gut, saying, “That way!”
6. Simply, if that can be called “simple,” do what makes you happy.
You see, there is one big secret that is actually life-changing:
Do what draws you. Take leaps toward your dreams. Experience and keep doing what makes your heart sing. That is perhaps the most important thing to know. The vibration of discovering what one likes, and starting to give more and more time to it, is extremely high simply because it brings joy. This joy is what changes you, shows you that you are on the right track, and organically gives you energy to keep going.
I never knew I would share my experiences with others, write articles or poems, and publish a book a few years ago. The path of freedom is not written before it happens. Conversely, it is created and built every step of the way as one pursues their passions, endeavours, and projects that they authentically feel drawn to.
In time, doing what makes us happy becomes much more than only “joyful.” It gives us solidity, self-confidence, and inner strength. In fact, we are now building our life based on who we truly are, at heart. We are gaining inner power in an authentic way; it is not coming from our ability to fit in society’s roles, but it is anchored in the gems that we have revealed from within.