I always encourage all my friends to travel. Mostly because I did it myself, and I loved it! In this post I am not going to talk much about travelling itself rather than the process I personally went though. By reflecting on my own journey, I hope to inspire you to be brave and to start your own adventure to find and be yourself.
You have probably listened to many people talking about their travels and how it helped them to find their inner selves. How they left their homes to find what they have been looking for all along. But what does that actually mean? I asked some people who went and how they know that they found it? And they said “I just know”. Well, that’s not very helpful I thought.
I just go and find out for myself
I figured if no one can tell me then I’ll just go and find out for myself. So I left for Australia in March of 2013. Just me, my backpack, and my beloved hair straightener. My family and friends always said my hair looks better straight. The first couple of weeks were a bit scary. I had never been somewhere by myself for such a long time. I remember the moment when I realized that I was truly alone on the other end of the planet. Before that, I had never had a panic attack before.
But what exactly happens to you when you go on an adventure like this? Well, I have more than just one theory here.
Stop trying to please other people and just be yourself.
Primarily, I believe that you need to create distance to see things clearly. There is a saying: “The shortest way to yourself is around the world.” It basically means to get rid of all the people who are telling you who you are and who you should be. All the expectations family and friends have regarding you and your future. All the expectations you have for yourself. Now, some of you might think that you don’t do what other people expect you to do, and that might be right to some extent. But there is always a part of you that does. Unintentionally trying to please someone else.
Let me try to explain it another way. Imagine yourself with the shape of a matryoshka doll. You know… the small handcrafted wooden ones made in Russia and Polen. The outer shells are expectations other people have towards you. They all look like you but they are not. The small one, the core – that’s you. So in order to become your true self you need to peel all the outer shells off. For some of us that is not as easy as it might sound. At least it wasn’t for me. I had to get enough distance between me and everything I knew and everyone that knew me.
There are some shells which come off easily and there are some which take a bit longer. In my case my friends and work shell came of pretty quick. But I am still working on my family shell. It’s the one which is closest to my heart and therefore more difficult. To not fulfill the expectations your family has towards you also means to sometimes disappoint them.
Find the things which truly matter to you.
Besides getting rid of expectations, it is vital to isolate yourself from everything that is not important. What clothes are you wearing and how much makeup do you put on. TV and social media, gone. Just you and your backpack. Going back to the basics will help you find the things that truly matter to you. For example, I don’t care much about shopping anymore. I used to love going out to get myself a treat like some cool new shoes or a pretty dress. I used to wear make up every day because I thought I need to. Now I get most of my clothes at the second hand store. Even though they are not new they kind of are to me. But most important to me is that it is so much better for the environment. I own a tiny make up bag with 5 items in it. I think I am just as pretty without it. Actually, the more things I own the less free I feel nowadays. Or in other words: The things you own, end up owning you.
Try new stuff and start new hobbies.
The last theory I want to mention here is probably the most important. Ok they are all kind of important but without this one none of the others will work. I am talking about creativity. Be brave, be confident and live your passion. Try new things and start new hobbies. It is totally fine if they are just short term. Try them anyway. Painting, sewing, pottery, learn how to mix up herbal remedies, write a blog, start making jam, upcycle furniture or learn a new instrument. Open your eyes for the adventures out there, big or small.
If you think now that as soon as you have gone thought the process, you will have it all figured out. I have to disappoint you. There are still many things in my life I am not sure about. What is my career path? Do I want to stay in Canada or do I want to go back to Germany at some point? Do I want to stay in the city or is a country home a better choice? I could keep going like this for another page.
There is no finish line here. No point where you figured it all out. But that’s not really necessary. What’s important is that you are happy and that you feel the freedom to be who ever you want to be. Don’t spend your life pleasing everyone else but yourself-just be yourself. Be brave enough to follow your own dreams. Live your life the way you want.
Oh and by the way I don’t own a hair straightener anymore.
Be confident. Be brave. Be you.