This American Girl

 

One year can feel like a lifetime.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

Exactly twelve months ago I was at a crossroads in my life. I had been accepted to the top universities in the United States for interior design, something I dreamed of achieving for years.

 

playa guiones

 

My marketing career had hardly fulfilled the glamorous fantasy I concocted as a child and yearning for a creative outlet I became deeply immersed in the world of design. I wondered often if I was good enough.

 

puerto viejo

 

Artistic expression, especially in practical applications, solicits criticism from experts to novices as frequently as one opens a door or sits on a sofa. Being accepted to these universities felt validating at a time when I often questioned my own worth.

 

santa teresa

 

But after living in the jungle in Costa Rica, exploring Central America, and traveling alone in Morocco, I seriously questioned if it was still what I wanted.

 

puerto viejo

 

Traveling for those nine months showed me what actually made me happy.

 

little corn island

 

Swimming in the ocean. Listening to the waves. Walking barefoot in the sand.

 

puerto viejo

 

Hiking in the jungle. Tasting tropical fruit. Observing sloths and monkeys.

 

playa samara

 

Talking with locals. Taking in markets. Learning about a different way of life.

 

puerto viejo

 

I wondered, how does one make a career or a living from these interests? Was my travel life a temporary period in the course of my existence confined to memories and digital photographs? Or could I sustain it?

 

playa guiones

 

More importantly, had my life become shallow? Had I become so accustomed to receiving hospitality and generosity from people all over the world with no means of giving back? Had I developed a life of pure pleasure, devoid of intellect or achievement?

 

little corn island

 

Faced with these questions I decided to take a chance on an experiment. An experiment that would test whether a different life, a life I had never witnessed, was possible.

 

little corn island

 

In that life I would be able to travel freely as long as I wanted. I would be able to live in beautiful, remote places all over the world. I would feel worthy in my contribution to this incredible earth that never ceases to amaze me with how much it can give.

 

corcovado national park

 

If the experiment failed I would return to the states and begin design school. If the experiment succeeded I would continue to live this unconventional life as long as I could.

 

bocas del toro

 

That experiment was this blog.

 

isla tortuga

 

Today, exactly one year since I first pressed “publish”, I’m writing to you from the sensory explosion that is Saigon. Motorbikes honk from all directions, neon signs compete for my attention, and the aroma of spicy grilled seafood works its way into the fibers of my unruly hair.

 

montezuma

 

This month I kayaked through Ha Long Bay, ate street pho in Hanoi, befriended locals in Hoi An, and entered more temples than I could possibly recall.

 

puerto viejo

 

This year I slept in National Parks in Costa Rica with monkeys and pumas, danced in clubs in Colombia, sailed through deserted islands in Panama, and climbed to the tops of volcanoes in Nicaragua.

 

pavones

 

I am far from rich, in fact at times it feels like I am hardly getting by. At times I feel uncertain, afraid, and insecure. I wonder often if this blog will ever “amount” to anything.

 

puerto viejo

 

But then I realize, it already has.

 

little corn island

 

I have found the artist within me by capturing the magic I discover wherever I go.

 

nosara sunset

 

I have built connections with inspiring people all over the world.

 

puerto viejo

 

I have found meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in a life of simplicity, pleasure, and freedom.

 

bocas del toro

 

I am living the life that I want to be living.

 

bocas del toro

 

I have faith that if I continue on this path that brings me passion and joy, even when it feels scary and hard, opportunities for my growth and support will inevitably transpire.

 

puerto viejo

 

If you have a dream, however big or crazy it may seem, even if no other human has ever achieved it, take a chance. No matter the outcome, if you lead with your heart you can never fail.

 

little corn island

 

Thank you for reading. You are what inspires me to keep living my dream every single day.

 

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Hello beautiful soul,
In August 2018 I stopped blogging as This American Girl. You can now find me at Camillewillemain.com where I'm sharing my retreats and courses.
Love, Camille