When a Baggins leaves her hole to encounter the world, her life is changed forever- An Unexpected Journey

Malcesine – Photo by Maira Dias Ray

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…
This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours ‘respect, but he gained-well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I have always been a bit of a Baggins. Although I would often catch myself wondering how vast this world is and how much more of it I still wanted to explore, the prospect of going out of my comfort zone and confronting the uncertain was quite daunting to me.

Consequently, after I came back from my trip in Europe I decided to settle down and go back to my normal routine.

At that time, I was living in Poços de Caldas (a small city in the south east of Brazil). I had a good job in a public company where I worked only 6 hours per day and the salary was enough for myself. I lived in a nice city and shared an apartment with some very good friends. It was a comfortable and safe life where everything seemed satisfactory enough, except for only one thing:  it was not. I was not happy in my daily life as I was not finding anything that could bring me enthusiasm. I was living an ordinary life while my heart was begging for something extraordinary.

One day I was this a bar with one of my friends talking about how our lives were shallow. We figured out we were working to only pay the bills; we were not doing anything meaningful while life was passing by right in front of our own eyes. All of sudden my friend said: “What with we went to live in another country? I have a friend who worked as an au pair in Netherlands and travelled all around Europe. And I also know some people who live in Ireland!”

I want to say that I pondered the possibility, considering all the outcomes of such important decision as a good Baggings would do…but I did not! For reasons still unknown to me, I felt courage running in my veins and I knew deeply in my soul that that was the only way for me to live a unique and special life. I had watched the movie Ps: I love you, which was set in Ireland, and it looked beautiful! Additionally, I  had always been passionate about Celtic culture. I was sure it would to be wonderful to live there! So, I said: Hells yaahhh! Let’s do it.

The trip planning has begun

I started searching for information about abroad exchange’ programs, getting in touch with agencies and (quoting) flights tickets. At that time, the Irish government policy used to allow Brazilians to live in Ireland for one year once they bought an English course with a minimum of 24 weeks. There was also the possibility of two visa renewals. Basically, we would need to study English for 6 months and then enjoy 6 extra month-holidays. This visa  also permitted us students to work 20 hours per week. Nowadays, there have been some changes in the overall programme, but there is still the possibility of working there.

We planned everything for about 3 months. I was going to quit my job and use my savings to go whereas my friend was going to get a loan from her grandmother. However, everything was too good to be true. My friend decided to give up on the idea to pursue a post-graduation program. When she first told me that, I must admit I felt disappointed and even betrayed. Nevertheless, it did not take me too long to understand that she was too frightened to make such a huge shift in her life. I understood that because when I knew she was not going; I got frightened myself.

Without her support and company, I did what I had not done when we first talked about moving to Ireland, I started to consider the risks. What if I did not adapt there? What if my English was too bad to survive? What if I got lost? What if I could not find another job as good as the one I had? I doubted myself. I did not believe I was courageous enough, neither did I consider having what it takes to face hard situations on my own. I was a Baggins again as I hesitated leaving my “hole” on my own.

‘We cannot buy time’, I said to myself

The conflict between the immense desire of travelling the world and the fear of leaving my safe environment was to big to care alone. So, I decided to ask people for some advice. My mum said I was crazy and my colleagues advised me to postpone my plans for 2 years so I could get 5 years of non-paid holidays from the company I was working at, that way, in case something went wrong, I would be enable to be reintegrated into my job. I confess that for a moment I thought about giving up and keep waiting for the perfect moment to make a change. However, a voice started screamed inside my mind telling me that there was no way I was born to let my life escape me!

I stopped once and for all making up excuses, I knew that it was important to just start, otherwise I would never be able to follow my real desires. I was 26 years old; I was never going to be this young again. We accumulate material things, extend our wealth, but we cannot buy time. So, I made a commitment with myself; At the end of my life I wanted to look back and have the certainty that I lived rather than just existed, that I had collected so many meaningful experiences around this unique world. As a result, I decided to pay for the course, flights and health insurance straight away. I did that knowing that I could get scared again. Having bought the package, I resigned my job. From that moment on, I knew that there was no turning back.

What a Baggins has taken from her adventure?

I am not going to tell you that I did not get worried or that I did not doubt my decision. I did that on next day. However, I gave myself the permission to change. The journey was full of uncertainties, but I embraced the challenge and I believed that I was brave and capable of encountering whatever it was necessary to draw my path toward my dream. I went to Ireland, all on my own, and it was a life changing experience. I had the most amazing adventure of my life. I was surprised at myself as I never thought I would be the kind of person who gives up on a stable life to move to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean eager to live in country with such a different culture, language and climate.

It was not easy, since there were many obstacles to be overcome and some unpleasant situations, but it was worthwhile. If I had not gone I would not have met so many wonderful people and been in so many exceptional countries. I would not have met my gorgeous husband and most importantly; I would still believe I am not capable and brave enough to live my comfort zone. So, to conclude for today, let me give you this piece of advice: Do not let your fear of what may or may not happen comes in between you and your happiness. Go outside your shell, be courageous and face the unpredictable. Do not waste your time with excuses. You owe yourself the right to have an extraordinary life. You can do it!

I am Maira Dias Ray. Brazilian, 30 years old. I have lived in Ireland and now I live in Canada. I am a travel lover and a photography enthusiast. It will be such a pleasure to share my adventures, my travel experiences and the art of photography with you. I write in Portuguese and English.

One Comment

  • Patricia Costa Freire

    Maira, your post is highly inspiring. I loved the reference given with the book The Hobbit. After reading your article, I even watched the movie one more time. I admit that many times I felt the same as you, but once we have gone so far, it virtually impossible to be a hobbit again. It was a very pleasant reading. Thanks for writing for BAB.

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