Alison in Japan cartoon style

When I was younger an adult asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It was an easy answer for me back then.  As a dishevelled tom boy with wild blonde hair and dirt under my nails, I gave the honest answer.  The Brain.  At the time I couldn’t understand why that statement was met with such worrying glances.  After all, cartoon mice factors aside, it was far better to be The Brain than Pinky.

As is the way with today’s society, the topic came up again the following year.  While other girls still wanted to be ballerinas and boys entertained the notion of going to space, I once again gave a questionable reply.  Nine year old me had grown up.  She’d seen the futility behind cartoons and I had a new life plan.

I was going to be a coroner.

I feel that this is a testimony to my character and in hindsight, I can actually see similarities.  The Brain wanted to conquer the world, a coroner wants answers and finds them through dissecting reality.  Maybe it is a leap to find those comparisons, but it has taken twenty years for me to find that common ground and peace between childhood dreams and adult actualities.

Despite an oftentimes troubled childhood, I managed to finish highschool with marks that gave me the chance to follow any of my dreams.  While the rest of my friends went off to join University and start slugging away at their future goals, I found that I was still too torn.  How does one just decide what they are going to be for the rest of their lives?  Did I really want to work with dead bodies?  What of my love for writing and my passion for photography?  Maybe I wanted to go into the film industry – behind the camera, of course – and try to roll all my passions into one.  Did I really want to press myself into further study after the trying years of highschool?  What about travel; would I ever get the chance to see some of the world?

All in all, it seemed like far too big a decision for me back then and that feeling is still reflected now.

So I took a gap year.  I moved out of home, got a full time job and started living like as an adult.  One year turned into two, then into three.  The years past, ninety percent of my friends dropped out of University without degrees and went on to work in retail and offices.  For my part, I stepped out of administration and into the bustling world of Hotels.  Some people suggested that I was lost, that I needed to find myself, and at times I tended to agree.

Had I, like so many others, lost my way?  Was this all that life had to offer?

Finally at twenty-four, I stepped onto foreign soil for the first time.  My very first destination?  Tokyo, Japan.

The lights never dimmed, the streets were never empty; the city never slept.  I was in love.  I felt whole again, like I had found a part of myself that I had been missing all these years.

I went back to Japan, four other times to be exact, and have since travelled the majority of the country, collecting parts of myself in each place.  I also found lost parts of myself in Korea.  Then England, France, Austria, Italy, Scotland… the list goes on.

Now, at 30, I am still as lost as ever.  The difference these days is that it is by choice and design.  I have travelled and explored and I am always preparing for the next big adventure; the next place where I’ll find another little piece of myself to collect.

In the meantime, I have found a unique way to quench my wanderlust.  A year ago now, I packed my overly materialistic life into a storage unit and took off across Australia with a suitcase, a bus ticket and the promise of work in a remote community.  Now I make my living roaming from one isolated location to another, managing pubs and fixing restaurants.  I generally live on site and in exchange for long hours and hard work, I get to boost my savings fund while still experiencing new and exciting things.  I spend my free time exploring and writing, immersed in a good book or television series or ‘self-medicating’ through Adult Colouring in books.

So maybe I am still lost, but sometimes you need to completely lose your way into order to find it.


–  Alison Sault.

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