The Pushy Friendship: The Story of How A Polish Girl Made Me Travel

2015-02-14 11.21.38My year in Australia is nearly coming to an end. It’s been quite a journey, and I learned quite a bit about myself, others and the world around me.

However, way before coming to Australia, I lacked the courage to go after my travel dreams. If it wasn’t for one particular person, who randomly came into my life and pretty much made me travel, I would have never been able to experience the other side of the world.

Being all fancy-pants by the Harbour Bridge after dinner & drinks at the Opera Bar

Being all fancy-pants by the Harbour Bridge after dinner & drinks at the Opera Bar

So today, I share with you a story about how a determined polish girl bullied me into traveling. We call our friendship “The Pushy Friendship”.

IMG_0344A Little Bit About How The Pushy Friendship Started

The Pushy Friendship is something my buddy, Sally, from Unbrave Girl, came up with over two years ago.

Sally had an advice column on her blog called “Advice You Really Shouldn’t Follow” and asked her readers to send her questions about anything. So, of course, I sent her about 50 million questions about everything.

(Oh, and I’m totally obsessed with Sally and I want to be BFFS with her.)

That time I traveled to NYC just to meet the Fabulous Unbrave Girl

That time I traveled to NYC just to meet the Fabulous Unbrave Girl

One of the questions I asked her was “How can a beginner start traveling?” And her advice was to “Get A Pushy Friend”.

In her “Advice Column” she wrote about how her friend pushed her to go to London during her college days and she found a job and survived. And the following year she pushed another friend to move to Ireland and they also survived.

Sally’s advice to me was to get a pushy friend, and she even volunteered to be my pushy friend. But as always, I never really take anything Sally says seriously. (Do you guys know how many times she promised me a pony and never delivered? However, she did make her readers a bunch of uni-cats and cows and all sorts of uni-farm animals and till this day, I’m unsure of how I feel about it.)

The Power Of The Pushy Friendship 

It was all fun and games but when reality hit, I didn’t take any actions towards my travel dreams or any of my dreams. I just kind of sat in a corner and complained about how I wanted to travel but didn’t have the funds to do so.

I wanted to travel. And it killed me that I couldn’t. Or at least I convinced myself that I couldn’t.

Urupukapuka Island In New Zealand

Urupukapuka Island In New Zealand

It was one specific post that I wrote in 2013 that caught the eye of one my readers. (Truthfully, I didn’t even know I had readers. I just always assumed I was writing off into cyberspace. “Dear diary, I want to travel but have no monies. Please help me win the lottery. Yours Truly, XXX”. )

The post I wrote was called “The Girl Who Always Meets But Never Plans”.

The post was about how I was connected with a travel community called Meet, Plan, Go and I’d always attend their events to keep my travel inspirations and motivations alive. However, the idea was to meet like-minded people, get inspired to travel, and then travel. But that wasn’t the case for me. I would just continue to attend Meet, Plan, Go events and just meet. I would meet people who have traveled all over the world or were about go on a big adventure. But I always had the same sad story. “I want to travel, but I have no monies.” And that is how I became the girl who’d always meet but never plan.

I wrote about my frustrations, my desires, my wants and fears (i.e. living underneath a bridge).

And that’s when of my one readers, Marta, who also happens to be a mutual friend of Sally’s, reached out to me and said, “Bitch, you need to stop.”

OK, she may have not said that, but that’s what she meant. I could tell she was sick of me using every possible excuse not to travel (money being the number one reason; fear being a close second).

Marta lives in Poland, and I’ve never met anyone like her. I’ve also never actually met her face to face. And the fact that pushed me from a different side of the world is mind-blowing.

Marta read Sally’s advice column and read about the “Pushy Friendship,” and volunteered to be my pushy friend. At first I was a bit uncertain in Marta’s offer, and initially thought, UM-WHO-THE-HELL-ARE-YOU-AND-WHY-DO-YOU-CARE-IF-I-TRAVEL?!”

It started out with a few comments on the “The Girl Who Always Meets But Never Plans” blog post escalating to Marta sending me a Facebook message shortly after stating, “OK, this is how this pushy friendship works”. Of course, at first I didn’t take Marta’s offer seriously just like I didn’t take Sally’s offer seriously. But Marta was serious. Like A Heart Beat. By using Facebook, email, and Skype we communicated like we were sitting right next to each other.

Marta believed in me but knew that it would take more to achieve my travel dreams then to just sit around on my ass dreaming. She knew it would take work.

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A Random Picture of Marta – My Pushy Friend

*How We Made The Pushy Friendship Work*

You Need To Work For It If You Want It Bad Enough

Right off the bat, she told me that it was going to be a lot of work if I wanted to be successful and if I wasn’t serious, I could back out now. I thought about it but I was really curious as to what Marta had in mind. I was also desperate. I wheeled myself into a corner and felt like there was no way out. I was ready to try anything – including taking instructions from a random Polish girl from the Internet.

Of course, Marta told me that she was no expert and she was making everything up as she went along. However, it felt like I was working with a real expert. When we worked together via the internet – it felt like I was getting life coaching or something. I felt like I should have been paying her.

Marta wasn’t seeking money from me (and she knew I didn’t have money). She wasn’t starting a business in travel coaching and used me as her guinea pig. She didn’t want money, fame, or a review. She wanted nothing in return except for me to travel.

Marta didn’t want anything in return except to see me travel.

“I know how important it is to have someone kicking your butt to make you achieve your goals,” she told me via Facebook Message once.

We’ll Figure It Out

There were a lot of things that I didn’t know about or lacked information on and Marta didn’t know a lot of things either. However, one thing that made me stick to our Pushy Friendship was Marta’s confidence. If she didn’t know how to do something, she was confident that we’d figure it out. (Unlike me who’d freak out and go into hyperventilation.)

Putting Structure Into The Work

Marta quickly realized that my thoughts were unorganized.

I’m the type of people who wants to do 20 million things at once and then feels too overwhelmed and ends up not doing any of them.

Marta’s first task was to help me get my thoughts organized. Making lists was (and still is!) a big thing in our relationship. She told me not to get distracted or use lists to avoid real life but making lists can be a powerful tool if you do it right.

First she made me make a list of jobs people do to travel (i.e. teaching English aboard, work on a cruise, etc.). Then I made a list of my skills, professional experiences, etc. And then she made me rank the lists in order from things I want to do to the things I don’t have much of an interest in doing, and also in what is easiest to do, to least easy to do. This was our base point. Once we figured that out, we’d go from there.

Marta then compared both lists and decided that, ideally, I should teach English abroad while freelance writing on the side. Of course she didn’t just make decisions for me – after all, it was my life. She asked me repeatedly if this was something I wanted to do or something I’d consider. She’d put in her two cents as to why I should do something but then ask me for my opinion.

Before this experiment with Marta, I never even considered teaching English. After some consideration, I thought it would be a great experience for me, and I agreed with Marta.

The entire time Marta was pushing me, it wasn’t just about making lists as I know from experience, lists don’t mean a damn thing unless you take action to do the things on the lists.

And that’s what Marta was all about. Taking action. Not just making lists and living in La-La land. She also kept her word, constantly following up with me and making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to and not goofing off. She held me accountable.

She gave me assignments such as: Picking five countries I’d like to move to and researching these countries. I had to find schools in these countries and find out what the pay rate was. I had to contact people who’ve worked in these countries and asked for their  experience.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There was a lot of work (on my part especially) involved. Sometimes (a lot of times) I was lazy and didn’t feel like doing the work. I remember once, I had a deadline for a Sunday and it was Friday and I didn’t do anything. I was in the I don’t-feel-like-it mode. I emailed Marta and asked for an extension. She replied and said “no” and I that I still had 2 days until the deadline.

At first I was annoyed. But then I was grateful for Marta calling me on my bullshit. She would often email me with messages like “What day is today? A deadline day!”

That’s what Pushy Friends do. That’s what Marta did.

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Marta On A Horse Because She’s Awesome

With the help of Marta, I decided that I was going to move to Thailand to teach English. I enrolled in a TEFL course. I started volunteering at a Vietnamese community and taught English classes to adults, and even went to tutor training to further my experience.

When Our Plan Didn’t Go As Planned

10155488_10152162265346633_1663384079535710840_nI unofficially set out a date to leave. But then our plan didn’t go as planned.

Long story short, I had some issues with the online course I was taking and in my experience, I didn’t receive good service. I won’t mention the name of this company or go into too much detail as this post isn’t about them but about Marta and her pushiness. I will mention that in the end after I complained about their service and they didn’t take it seriously, the TEFL company decided to give me a refund on my course and withhold my certificate. This was AFTER I completed the course, which was about 3 months of hard work.

This was extremely heartbreaking and I didn’t know where go from there – not even sure if I had any legal rights. I asked them for legal proof and they simply said they are a private school and have the legal right to not to provide service to anyone.

My certificate came in the mail a few weeks later – I guess it was already on it’s way when they told me that they wouldn’t issue me a certificate anymore. I had the certificate but not the support of the school. I could still go to Thailand and risk the TEFL school badmouthing me if an English school decided to call them for a reference.

OR I could do something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time but used fear as an excuse not to – go to Australia on the Work and Holiday Visa.

The Thailand plan backfired – the plan that Marta and I worked so hard to put together. But I’m sure you’ve experienced, plans don’t always go as planned. Don’t get me wrong, I was still terrified to move to Thailand. But the security of looking for a job in a certain field helped.

However, I knew that the Work and Holiday Visa had an age limit, and once I passed into my 30s, I wouldn’t be eligible anymore and the opportunity would be gone. I was scared and stressed and everything came with uncertainty. But I had to go to Australia.

Marta made me take actions and helped me realize that I’m worth more than settling for less than what I deserve. It’s important to dream big but dreams don’t mean a damn thing if do you don’t do anything about it. Marta pushed me so far that eventually I had to start pushing myself. Sometimes you just need a little kick start.

I wrote Marta an apology email saying how grateful I was for her but I won’t be taking the teaching English path right now. I thought she would be angry, but she wasn’t.

She replied:

“All right, I’m not angry at all. It’s better to change the plan that pursuing the one that doesn’t fit what you want to do and who you want to be. Well, I am changing plans A LOT myself.

I’d probably be slightly disappointed if you just gave up at all, staying in Chicago and hopping from one temp job to another, but you’re simply taking your life into your hands, and forming it the way YOU want. Not your family, not your friends, not circumstances, luck or all sort of excuses, but you. So yeah, I’m happy and proud of you. Don’t get me wrong: staying in Chicago may be the best thing ever, but when I wrote to you for the first time, you didn’t seem to be happy about it. So whichever route you choose, you’re not a panicked passenger of a drifting boat, you’re the captain.

I’ll be happy to get an update from you, every now and then about how are you doing, just please, please, please, don’t give up on making your dreams come true, okay?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!

PS. I’m sure that what your school is doing is on the edge of law, but probably it’s too much fuss to go through all the legal process…”

And that’s how I ended up in Australia and not Thailand. The Pushy Friendship was just something Sally came up with (as somewhat of a joke), but it turned into a random Polish Girl taking it seriously and pushing me to the other side of the world.

My life has ever since changed. And I’m ever so grateful.

Everyone has dreams. But sometimes we need a little push to go after them and take them seriously.

Sandboarding in New Zealand

Sandboarding in New Zealand

I certainly needed a push. Actually, think I needed someone to shove me on a airplane and say, “Travel. Travel NOW” – which is pretty much what Marta did.

The silly thing is I still haven’t met Marta in person. I think I need to plan a trip to Poland. 🙂

I’ve never had someone care so much to make me a priority. Marta kept her word on everything she said she was going to do (and more). She never missed a deadline, called me on my bullshit, and helped me in ways that I didn’t think were possible. And I didn’t even pay her to do any of this. I think everyone needs a friend like Marta. Everyone needs someone to believe in them, especially when you have trouble believing in yourself.

Everyone needs a friend like Marta.

Have you ever had someone push you? Tell me about it!

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13 Comments
  1. Loved this post! I wouldn’t say I have pushy friends but supportive. My partner on the other hand is definitely more pushy (but in a supportive way!) and helps me get out of my comfort zone. I mean if making me move to Australia from little old UK isn’t pushy I don’t know what is!

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook
    Lizzy recently posted…15 Books for 2015My Profile

    • Before Marta, I have “supportive” friends too. But I really needed a pushy one. And it sounds like you have one hell of a (pushy) husband 🙂

  2. Aaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Omg, I’m soooo flattered! I don’t remember last time I’ve heard so many nice things about me : ) But yeah, it brings me a huge satisfaction to see that my work was fruitful. You’re awesome, Priya! Our last pushing project slowed down, because I suddenly realized that I overestimated my time-management skills, but it’s still on, no one is backing out!

  3. Great write up. I guess I’m just another copy of you when it comes to laziness. I’m glad for Marta or I’d miss a lot of your blog posts.

    BTW, can I borrow your pushy friend 😉

  4. Pushy friends are sometimes the best…maybe they are representing the first of many challenges and lessons we learn on our journeys not so close to home na.

    thanks for sharing your pushy friend na kha.
    Yok recently posted…แค้มป์ปิ้งที่ Dana Biosphere Reserve ข่มตาหลับในค่ำคืนอันหนาวเหน็บMy Profile

  5. Pingback: unbrave girlRandom Stuff List - unbrave girl

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