Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself
Travel is a funny thing.
There’s countless wonder to it, of course, but if you’re traveling while you’re going through some shit, it also forces you to think through the more difficult turning points in your life.
But WAIT! Hello from Greece, my friends. Mykonos, Greece — to be exact — where I am now. I know, dafuq, right?
Sometimes you just need to take a break — a second time — which we’ve discussed around here before. And when priorities shift away from blogging, a lag in posting can quickly spiral into an intimidating indefinite hiatus. The longer it lasts, the more of a struggle it seems to return and write — or share — anything.
So I’ll just jump right into it and answer the first question you probably have, which is “Where ya been?”
… For the week. Beyond that, I’m spending the month in Paros, Greece, via Remote Year. I’m not doing another program, though, just what’s known as a Remote Year Citizen House.
A quick explanation Since I “graduated” from Remote Year — or finished my four-month program — I’m now considered a Remote Year Citizen. Through that, I can hop on additional RY programs in-full or by the month for a discounted Citizen rate; but also, I can partake in periodic “Citizen Houses,” which is a gathering of former Remote Year participants a few times out of the year.
PS: If you’re interested in learning about Remote Year, sign up for a free Webinar here. You don’t have to do anything, just listen (or ask questions) — attendance is anonymous. I’ll be there answering questions with other Remote Year staff and participants, too! There are two options if you’re interested; click below to sign up/for more information.
Anywho. It’s been, what, like a month since we’ve checked in, yeah?
I’ve been doin’ some serious soul-searching, my friends — and I’ve gotta tell you, it’s felt good. Really good.
There are years that ask the questions and there are years that answer.
We’ll get to that (at the end of this post, if you want to skip down), but in the interim, here’s a quick summary from each of the countries I’ve been since we last chatted.
February | Marrakech, Morocco:
Marrakech was Month Two, and the end of our time in Morocco was tough. I’d been on-the-go all month (taking weekend side-trips, flying back to the US and Mexico for my sister’s wedding) so my body was beat.
And to be honest, I wasn’t happy in my living situation. All things I’m saving to chat about in my Month Two Remote Year recap, though (on Thursday).
While I enjoyed the stark contrast in culture and lifestyle (from living in Cape Town the month prior), I found myself missing the “convenience” that I’ve grown used to as an American towards the end of the month — and I felt guilty about that.
I missed things like tap water, iced coffee, happy hours, Uber, never having to carry cash around, quick-and-easy public transportation, and so on.
March | Lisbon, Portugal:
As a result, I think, our whole group instantly fell head-over-heels in love with Lisbon — it was walkable, convenient, social, WiFi-enabled, laid back and — well, easier. So much more fluid. Like, regardless of what you wanted, you had options.
Of course, I liked it for reasons beyond that too. Lisbon is a place I could truly see myself living (if I were to live in Europe, which I have no immediate plans to — haha). From a people and overall city perspective, it reminded me of a Chicago/New York hybrid. It just felt like home.
Oh, and they’re true to that mid-day siesta life, which I can definitely get behind.
April | Valencia, Spain:
The final leg of our four-month Remote Year program came (and went) much too quickly. And the fact that I left (back, back to Cali, Cali) for a brand partnership for nearly a week only amplified that fact.
To be honest, I felt a bit of that depression sneaking back in during my time in Spain, so after my trip I knew I had to slow down and take care of my body.
I’ve become so in-tune with myself over the last five months, though, that I knew it was coming from the strains I was putting on my body — physically, from all the traveling I’d been doing — but mentally and emotionally, too. A lot of it was triggered by things happening in my personal life (from afar — which is another reason I knew to stay off social media for a while.)
I embraced JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out). I craved stability and a sense of “home,” but I also knew my time was limited with all of these new incredible humans in my life (as our Remote Year program ended April 29). As such, I chose not to be online much and instead, focused on living in the moment and milking as much as I can from this experience.
May | Barcelona, Stockholm, Venice, Athens Paros and (now) Mykonos, Greece:
Boom! Coming to you from Mykonos with today’s long-overdue post. I missed ya’ll!
A lot has happened since then, but at the risk of this post turning into a novel, I’ll tell you all about them in a separate longer-form post.
Now, back to said life-altering turning points.
For me, almost all of those have been within the last two years… And counting.Fuckin’ rough, man. You know what, though? I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, maybe I would. I wish I’d been able to blog more while going through it all… Among Other Things.
But hey, I’ve been very fortunate to develop loads of self-awareness, understanding, love and all-around acceptance through the process, as well as the courage to start sharing with you now what I wish I’d known then.
What I know now (for sure)…
Forgiveness: There are past versions of myself that I do not like, but I am grateful for the perspective and lessons that they have ultimately brought me.
Vulnerability: It’s completely okay to say “I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing,”— regardless of your age bracket, current career path, relationship status and so on. Many times over.
Failure: Failing can feel like you’re ripping yourself wide open, but it’s the best way to learn what true success, love, friendship, etc means.
Music is an insanely powerful (and my favorite) way to communicate.
Writing is too. I miss it. And I get so frustrated that I still can’t write as easily as I used to, but…
Creativity is a muscle that you have to practice using regularly — especially if it is your craft. There will be times you’ll have to fight to figure out (or redefine) your voice — but don’t be afraid to use — you never know who might need to hear it.
Home: “Home” is not a word I associate with a location anymore.
Relationships: It’s okay to take space — or to miss someone— and it’s important to reflect on how they contribute(d) to your life and how their absence affects you… in both good ways and not.
Shame: Nothing is permanent. And there is so much fulfillment in turning your mess into your message.
Identity: I am still re-defining my relationship with exercise, something I used to love (and that was a huge part of my identity as a fitness instructor — until all of a sudden it wasn’t). It’s taking longer than I thought it would, but that’s okay.
Spontaneity: I prefer to live in the moment versus thinking too far ahead — in life and when I’m traveling.
Health: Establishing healthy routines and holding myself accountable to them gives me energy and makes me feel productive (and happy). Also, Vitamin supplements make a huge difference in the ways that I feel (Vitamin C, B-12 and B-Complex especially).
… Just a cliff notes of sorts for today. But these are the topics and conversations and lessons I’ll be expanding on as I bring you through my travels over the next few weeks.
All of these things, of course, I wish I’d understood from the get-go, but then again maybe you have to go through it to get through it… Because — and here’s the last two things:
Life: There is no formula.
Letting go: … But you have to let go of the old to make room for the new. This can be attached to fear, loss, sadness, shame and reaaaally harsh realities, but most of the time the new brings the clarity we’ve needed all along.
We’re in this together. You’re not alone.