In the 7 years I’ve spent living abroad, I really don’t believe I ‘found myself’, but I sure have formed myself into a person I am proud of. I’ve developed characteristics that now help to define who I am, unearthed what keeps my soul happy and feeds my heart. I’ve nurtured and grown an authentic spirit to become the person I needed to be.
I created myself.
There are times I feel amazed at all the miles I have travelled, all the places I have seen, the people I have met and the person I have become. But at the same time they almost feel ordinary; for travel and life are not separate, they are one and the same to me.
Sometimes I forget the amount of indescribable things I have done. Some memories get lost, some escape, some are left behind and many get forgotten beneath an anxiousness for all I have yet to see and do. But I never can seem to forget the way these most special experiences made me feel, the emotions that were intensified and the parts of me that were strengthened.
I’ve tried out different versions of myself in different parts of the world, seeing how they fit and then taking the best qualities and discarding the rest. The longer I continue to explore and to wander I add to my genuine self, cultivate personal satisfaction and self-love.
I’ve formed the knowledge to know that a road trip with loud country music is the best therapy for when feeling ungrounded and confused. I know that wide open spaces and country air allows my mind to quieten down.
I understand that claustrophobia can be small spaces, tall buildings, being in the wrong company, a negative conversation or the inability to find the right words when needed.
I recognize the different rhythms of my heart and how to soothe or encourage them.
I now know that there are two types of homesickness. One lasts just a few days and can be cured by a phone call. The other is a deep longing for a place you’ve never been and for experiences you’ve yet to have. The cure for that one is to keep trusting that the choices you’re making will lead you there, to that home.
I’ve wallowed despairingly in loneliness and thrived in solitude. It was in both these places I learnt acknowledgement and self-awareness. Sometimes I stay a little too long in the dark and blame others for not coming to hold my hand. But when the warm glow of positivity starts to seep in it’s then I can see how to be kinder to myself next time the light starts to dim. For it no doubt will, as that is the ebb and flow of me.
Leaving my homeland to create myself has led me to people in whom I see the same cultivation process happening. Wonderful, wide-eyed wanderers who are building themselves into generous hearted humans. It’s beautiful to watch, learn from and be a part of. The people I consider part of my tribe are far spread across this world but we have a thread connecting us at all times, a special thread we wove ourselves and chose to hand to one another.
This travel life, this out-of-the-ordinary path, this choice, it hasn’t always been the dream life, but it has all been worth it for the person I have created and formed. I am proud. I am in love.
So yes, I am another ‘quit your job, buy a ticket’ advocate because not only does the beauty of the world await, but the world cannot wait to see the beauty you create of yourself!
– image credit: Abegail Keenan