I spent my whole life so far wanting to be anywhere else but where I was in that moment. My childhood in Australia was spent in daydreams wondering what life would look like living in America or somewhere in Croatia. Ironically my grandmother informed me last year that I always said that I’d return, exactly when would remain up to the universe. I lived in London and thought about Barcelona. Barcelona was a cool city to visit but to live, I was too impatient to learn the language. I could see myself in Croatia but I still had my reservations about speaking the language, I understood everything but my speaking skills had my family rolling their eyes. At least I try, that’s all that matters. I embraced the the whole idea of being a ‘digital nomad‘ and often referred to myself as a digital gypsy- no home, just constantly on the go for the next big hit of adrenaline life could give me.
I identified myself as a travel and lifestyle blogger, built connections with tourism boards, digital marketing agencies, PRs, other travel bloggers, restaurants and hotel owners. I did everything right to get myself onto the scheme of ‘getting paid to travel.’ The idea of getting paid to travel appealed to me in many ways but I started to feel tired of feeling disconnected to where I was. I was dealing with depression, I had problems with addictions I had to overcome and I didn’t want to show my world to the world, there was no happiness in sunny Barcelona. I was simply sad on the inside.
Last summer I travelled around Croatia for a month with my best friend and it was the first time, in a long time that I had finally felt connected to my environment. Perhaps it was a sign that I had to return back home. Home being Croatia, as I said I always would.
Mystery is not always about travelling to new places, it is about looking with new eyes. Esther Perel.
I’ve mentioned this before but I never saw Zagreb as a city I could live in but my cousins spent a good amount of energy convincing me that it was the place I should be. Particularly considering the circumstances of my recovery. The first three months in Zagreb I spent meeting new people and getting a feel for how things are, I enjoyed it but I was still planning my next 12 months and where I wanted to navigate around this world.
Then an opportunity came up with a fashion start-up. Sure, it was nothing spectacularly different on the grand scheme of global start-ups but it was something new for the country. A concept that had every potential to work. The problem with Croatia is that everyone wants to be different but everyone is by default exactly the same. There are a handful of people who are fearless and live according to their vocations and callings, unafraid of doing something different but the majority of people keep themselves mediocre, moving with the crowds. Some might stand out a little more than others but if you threw them into the deep end of a city like London, they’d sink right to the bottom.
It was refreshing to be around a group of people who each day thought differently than the mediocre norm, who saw an opportunity to do something different and collectively as a team ensured it’s ongoing success. The ideas were constant and innovative, the courage to execute the ideas was prevalent and there was an element of success that most businesses in the country lacked, when it came down to the drawing board, there was no ego. All ideas were respected.
My focus shifted from wanting to be ‘anywhere else but here‘ to ‘there’s no place I’d rather be.‘ I wasn’t looking for my next escape and planning another press trip, I was deep into tutorials on how to build an e-commerce store and searching for the best types of calligraphy. And the second-best part? When your boss says, “I know who you are outside of this business, if you need time off for your personal brand, it’s yours anytime.”
The only country I ever wanted to write about and showcase to the rest of the world was there one I currently call home, Croatia. And here I am now, just like my old boss said a few months ago, “You did exactly what you said you were going to do when you left our team in Sydney. You should be so proud.” That I am. I am proud of my passport, proud of the heritage and proud of the people I call my friends. There’s this inner peace in my heart I never thought I’d find a year ago.
So, as for my title as a travel blogger, it remains but I’ll only be looking at opportunities with local tourism boards to continue to show you why Croatia should always be on your bucket list. It has always been the only country I ever wanted to talk and write about. I now understand those Aussie bogans who literally call Australia home and never leave the country because they never felt the need to. I get it, now.