At the beginning I lived like this only in my mind mapping my journeys around the world. I grew up in a financially poor family, where my mother as a single parent struggled day-to-day to put bread on the table and to dress my sister and me, even though she really did all she could to the best of her ability.
I cannot say I really liked attending school either as classmates used to bully and harass us because of our poor financial status. They did not realise to what lengths their own parents had to go in order to provide for them, but even then my sister and I were the first ones they turned to for help when they needed it and that happened often. Because of such experiences my sister and I grew a ‘thick skin’ which helped us to face the world as we knew it at that time on a daily basis. Fortunately, teachers were very supportive and recognised certain skills in us, which resulted in involving us in various activities and school events.
My twin-sister and I did everything we could to be good students at school and learn and experience as much as possible by getting engaged in many different after-school activities, which in some way slowly prepared us for adulthood. We were always cheerful, happy, joyful and full of enthusiasm; we never complained, except to each other from time to time, but instead looked for the brighter side of all things and constantly made each other laugh. I loved being among people, visiting various exhibitions, attending events and concerts, getting to know different places, reading books and doing other things that challenged my thinking and being. So I became involved in lots of sporting activities, did some creative writing and a bit of travelling around my own country, Lithuania. Wherever I went, my sister followed. We were inseparable, we could not be without each other; our bond was extremely strong and more important than anything else in the world.
Since an early age I had an immensely creative imagination, which I eagerly nourished and nurtured. That’s where I looked for a refuge when I felt unhappy and overwhelmed by the material world and it’s people. I used to spend hours and even more hours in my own world, where peace and tolerance and love were my top priorities. That was when I started mapping my journeys around the world. I began from Europe first. I drew a map and truly believed I could reach my dream some day in the near future.
The first country I envisioned visiting was Netherlands, then Belgium and Luxembourg followed, then the path led to Germany, Italy and Greece and other European countries and all the way to the capital of England, London. Then from London I went all the way to US, Canada, South America and many other countries in Asia, Africa and places in Australia and New Zealand. My imagination also eagerly visited small tropical islands all over the globe. For some reason I always focused on small countries and islands first, as there I could feel a better way of life that was full of serenity, unity of people, peace and adventure.
I have already accomplished some of my journeys and I have actually added a few more countries on my imaginative map accordingly. However, I have encountered strong discouragement due to financial difficulties, attachment and connection to my own land and people, other people’s fear and the need for me to be safe. I was told that if I wanted to achieve anything in life, I needed to have lots of money and money did not grow on trees. This was generously repeated to me on a daily basis, “Jolita, only rich people can allow themselves luxuries. You better remain where you are. Everything needs money and you have none,” and so on and the same over and over again.
I chose not to listen to echoes of others. I chose to listen to my heart and desire to explore and follow my dreams. My dear sister was very much like me and she strongly believed in me and supported my every move and choice, even though sometimes she possibly wished something else for me, but yet she was always the first one to encourage and inspire.
When I finished my studies at Vilnius College and obtained my diploma, unfortunately I reached the point where my situation was the worse for wear. I had no money, I found it very hard to get work, I had no place to stay, because I had to move out of student residence and I did not want to go back and live with my mother. My English skills were extremely poor as well. I truly wanted to improve my English, travel abroad to meet new people and learn about different cultures, languages, traditions, foods and lifestyle. I desired to explore the world, to experience a different way of life, to broaden my perceptions and views and open my senses. That’s when I strongly felt it was the right time for me to make changes in my life.
It was June 2003. I found out about an agency in the capital of Vilnius, where I lived at that time, which looked for young people to go abroad to work as aupairs for various families. An aupair’s job was to look after the family’s children, pets and home. In return they offered minimum wages and a language course appropriate to that particular country and of course, ‘live in’ accommodation comprising of a separate bedroom, food, transport, weekends off. The whole idea was about learning new skills, languages, traditions and meeting new people and understanding other ways of living. So I registered with that agency, which promised to find me a family abroad. I paid a certain fee, completed all the needed documents and waited. It took longer than I expected. Six months later, I was finally given an opportunity to leave for my new endeavour only just a couple of days before Christmas in 2003. To tell the truth, I was not really fascinated by the idea of looking after someone else’s children about whom I knew nothing, especially when I myself was just twenty two years old. However, I understood well that this opportunity was an opening for me to begin my journey, which had been my dream since an early age.
I packed my stuff, which was very little (one blouse, one jumper, one pair of jeans and one pair of shoes and a couple of my favourite books, a piece of chocolate and a blanket). I bought an international bus ticket to the Netherlands, pocketed the last 30 Euros I had and went to experience an adventure.
Whilst staying there with the family and looking after their children, I also got a chance, during my spare time, to travel the country, to learn Dutch, just enough to say few words, to improve my English and to make friends with other aupairs and people I met on my way. A few months later I packed my small luggage again and left, but this time I moved from country to country (exactly as I envisioned years ago) visiting people I met during those few first months in Netherlands.
I travelled alone and on my way I met even more wonderful people. I never had to stay on the street or be hungry; there was always someone to guide me, to help me with information, to house me and to show me around. I saw myself as a little gipsy with a small luggage in her possession going from one place to another and experiencing things I dreamed of since my childhood. I must say, I enjoyed every second of it. At that particular moment, because of the decision I dared to make, my whole life took a turn for the better, it began to improve and miraculous things started to happen in my life… It was something more than I had ever imagined or even thought of.
There is one more detail I wish to add to my story… Eventually I did come to London and began creating life I have envisioned long time ago.
Life can challenge you and try to put you down in order just to test you, and what I have learned from my experiences was that if you truly want something to achieve and have, all you have to do is believe and dare to reach for the stars, and once you have proven yourself to life, life will put its hands down and open the gate to your dreams. It will guide you, it will protect you, and it will soothe you and whisper its knowledge and wisdom into your ears, it will be fully there for you. If you just believe and KNOW that things you dream about can possibly happen and dreams do come true, then you will stop wasting your time and begin your journey right now and right here.
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