A few months ago I was feeling stuck. I was lacking motivation, inspiration, and quite frankly, my once super adventurous spirit was a bit lackluster. I had spent months, years manifesting travel into my life and was always successful in having the Universe conspire with my desires. My wishes were its command. International travel is something my family has always really valued but the Universe had just cut me out on that for a few years and granted me many domestic trips in return. This was still amazing, I am not complaining nor was I disgruntled in any way. I was just a bit unsatisfied and seeking something more. Possibly further travel, or possibly something a little deeper, something within. I was feeling empty and numb.
I didn’t want the same routine, I didn’t want A routine, I didn’t want a constant. I wanted change and I wanted that change to be drastic. I wanted to get out. I once read somewhere that cities were as fickle and uncertain as people, and I only hoped to find a city that was just as fickle and uncertain as I was to make me want to stay there long enough to ground myself.
I was going to Europe. I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket, automated my bills for the next few months, packed my bags and left. First stop, Brussels, Belgium. Crazy thing is that I told no one my master plan, I had led them all to believe that this was just a birthday trip and that I’d be back in three weeks. Little did they know that I planned to test out my ex-pat dream.
Getting out of my comfort zone was something I seriously set out on accomplishing by means of this trip as well. Apparently the Universe heard this longing loud and clear and slowly began to remove material items I associated with comfort at that time via robbery, loss, and mere forgetfulness. This including my cell phone, wallet, money, bank cards, identification cards, and some clothing; all in the first week of my stay. Europe sure knew how to welcome a girl back. Among these issues I had other minor concerns to deal with such as being a vegan traveling with heavy meat eaters, which led to my falling back topescatarianism. At the moment of the last unfortunate incident, I decided I was not going to let these happenings ruin my stay or my attitude. I wasn’t going to feed off of this negative energy. Cell phone-less, yes, but that gave me an even better excuse to disconnect. Wallet-less, yes, but that allowed me to control my spending a little better through various MoneyGram trips. The rest? Whatever. They’d be missed but not mourned. With this recent enlightenment and detachment from the material and home, I began to personify the Universe and laugh at her quirky tricks. I pictured all my lost possessions to be engulfed by some type of crystal ball in my hands at the time when I left on my journey. But then was startled by the appearance of the immense arm of the Universe taking my crystal ball away. In a way she was saying “Hey, let me hold that for ya, bitch.” The Goddess knew what she doing and had greater plans for me.
Long story short, my plan slowly altered itself and these few inopportune circumstances pushed me back home sooner than planned. Albeit, I spent thee most amazing 6 weeks traveling through 6 different countries with a great positive outlook and even better company. We lived amongst a humble family in a small colonial Italian village, partied with international students on Erasmus in Madrid, drank unholy amounts of beer in Belgium, cycled around the canals with Amsterdam locals, drank overly priced café in trendy Parisian arrondissements, and basked in traditional German Christmas markets galore. I spent my time entirely on feeding myself and being still in all the moments that counted the most. It not being my first time to many of these places made it very familiar and cozy, yet I still remained on my toes wondering what the next day would hold, in awe.
My trip came and went, those 6 weeks would soon become hazy memories constantly replaying in my mind and being triggered by the slightest reminders of it; smells, songs, words, pictures, food. It would all instantly spill into my thoughts and bring me back.
Upon arriving home I went through the most intense reverse culture shock. I had gotten so accustomed to this other mini-life and routine I had created abroad; the habitual morning cappuccino, lingering train rides, the sound of foreign languages buzzing around me, meeting fascinating people with equally charming stories, having a warm body laying besides me when I woke up in the morning; each of these things seeming so unadorned yet becoming a large part of my life and eventually bringing me closer to what I ultimately wanted. This shock was completely unexpected. I suddenly found it trivial to hold a quotidian conversation in English or talk about what new NYC borough we’d be looking at apartments in next, things that were once so innate to me.
I remember waiting for an epiphany to happen. I had to assess what I had gained and what I had learned. I was here after all, after the theft, the fear; I made it through while still having a blast and that was all that mattered. If I made it through that I could make it through anything and everything. I could do more. I was capable.
I came back to New York job-less and still lacking what I had so eagerly set out searching for in Europe, I isolated myself, and I soaked in it. I needed something, I needed a project to keep me busy, distract me, and most of all, keep me sane. I was lost, and so I dove into my practice, both physical and spiritual. I never missed a workout, never missed a yoga class, I meditated, I read and I wrote. I stayed in half of the time listening to reminiscent music and drank whole bottles of wine, because I could. Not to mention my newly fortified liver and alcohol tolerance, after all, I was traveling with male friends.
Once I was settled back in at home I was bombarded with expectations. Expected to find some nine to five job, to study and keep studying, to finish paying off my car. Expectations that were only meant to be met to please others’ dreams for me and not my own. I didn’t want this. I couldn’t get into that notion again of climbing a corporate ladder or settling down in one place from the newfound freedom I had just experienced in my travels. My eyes had just been re-opened to another world. A world filled with new adventures, cultures, and people. I was addicted to waking up in a new city everyday, in a new bed, seeing how others’ way of living compared to mine and living it first hand. I was hooked, and it was a high I never wanted to give up; I found a new numbing feeling, and one I wanted to keep. I had the sudden realization that I didn’t have to accept everything around me and conform. I didn’t need a car, I didn’t need all my stuff, I didn’t need to finish school right away, I didn’t need to keep up with what everyone was doing, or have a well paying job to support all of that. What I needed to be was happy, and after being so emotion-thirsty for so long, this girl was parched. Everything that I had once found so commonly necessary became frustrating and mostly unnecessary. The social pressures and myths I had so blindly let fly by me were now walls I needed to eagerly knock down and run far away from. I didn’t want the life everybody around me wanted. I was officially a flight risk.
I constantly found myself asking what I wanted. I’ve always had a drive but didn’t know where I was going. I have an entrepreneurial spirit but never that “aha” moment as to where to channel that. All I knew was that I wanted to get the hell out of New York, and preferably out of the United States. I was convinced that my life wasn’t meant to go on here, I had to get away. I entertained every idea in the book as to what I was going to do; au pair jobs, exchange programs, getting my yoga teacher training abroad, volunteer missions, wwoofing, and tons more. All of which I plan on accomplishing at least once in my life.
En fin, I do miss ordering a coffee drink with its correct pronunciation and speaking with foreigners in our mother tongues yet entirely understanding each other. I had recently been slapped in the face with the realization of the amazing friends I have and the community I have built; thus giving me this rare unexpected desire to nest here, and I welcomed that for a while. While I would be surrounded by those who I care for in the state where I grew up, it wasn’t fair to me to put a dream on hold just because it seemed a little out of reach, or to feel overwhelmingly guilty that I was offending my family and others for wanting to escape so intensely. But I wasn’t being true to my being by grounding myself somewhere and storing away the unknown possibilities. Your twenties are a time to get selfish. I am now sure that everyone in my life would only wish the best for me and send blessings my way with any decision or move I make. True friends will stay close to the heart no matter what ocean lays between you and family is there for the long haul. So as of right now I anxiously await and anticipate what the Universe has in store for me next and to finally announce my next leap.