Finding Yourself vs. Creating Yourself
Don’t we all day dream about just taking off, driving to the next airport with a destination that includes palm trees, alcoholic fruit drinks, and mandatory flip flops? I heard that calling so many times, and often succumbed to it – and it’s not that I was particularly fed up with my life. During my 20’s and early 30’s this was a fantastic way to “find myself”, test out how much strength lies within me, how less “stuff” I actually need, how much loneliness it takes to make me understand that we are all on our own – shaping my self esteem one trip at a time. I saw the world, let other cultures teach me lessons of acceptance and versatility, and made valuable memories that strengthened me for the everyday life.
Unfortunately, once you go back you cannot live purely off of memories. A tiny amount of people are probably able to live abroad, travel forever, and have a van instead of a home, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people appreciate some type of stability, routine, and a place to call home.
Actually, it turns out so do I.
Having been a daydreaming, free-spirited, travelling nomad discovering a foreign continent for the past decade, the last trips I took somehow didn’t fulfil my innermost passion anymore, didn’t answer any new life questions, and did not teach me more than I already knew. Instead, I feel almost guilty spending money to “just see another row of palm trees” in a – granted – breath taking scenery. But life should be more than visiting pretty places. Also, it’s really pretty where I live right now.
At this point I think I started searching for a different meaning of my life.
Does that mean the meaning of my life had just shifted? I wasn’t aware that this was possible. But considering my age – people I went to school with now mostly have 2.4 children and are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary while the status on my tax assessment screams ‘single’ – it would make sense that my subconscious started searching for new, more existential, less self-centred goals.
Yes, for some reason that free spirit in me now thinks that traveling is too self-centred for me to keep going. Is there something wrong with me? Do I have to re-create myself?
Having hit rock bottom more than once, fled from toxic relationships, peoples unthinkable lies that knocked the breath out of me, disloyal friends, abusive work relationships, and a variety of shattered hearts – I gained more strength and self esteem than I thought I had in me. I learned that whatever happens to me I can heal. It’s hard work and takes time, but it’s the most meaningful accomplishment I gained, and it allowed me to focus on growing my judgement, maturity, and patience. And although I’m far away from having figured out the meaning of life, I now don’t feel the need anymore to travel to different countries to find myself. Vacation is a beautiful way to take some well-deserved time off and relax – and that is all. Vacation trips don’t answer my inner calling anymore. Admitting to this made me feel beyond baffled – traveling as an outlet to answer existential life questions was all I knew.
Once in a while I like to do this thing called “listening to my heart”. It goes deeper than just a superficial search for the next exciting adventure. My lovely counsellor friend Kelly once took me on a dream-searching meditation, which I always look back to in times of crisis. Through meditation I found out that I want my life to actually matter. I learned so much over the past decade, and I see people struggling with the same, or similar, issues I went through.
If I learned that I can resolve any life crisis with honest self-reflection, hard work, and patience, I know so can everybody else.
And maybe I can be useful helping those who are looking for the same thing to come to a similar epiphany. This is one reason why I’m picking up writing my blog again.
The other one is an attempt to find a way to create a life for myself that can fulfil my new inner dreams, to create a life that I don’t need a vacation from. Instead of spending energy and money abroad trying to find myself I will now use my experience to create myself. Because rather than chasing a dream it feels much more effective to spend energy & resources on creating it.
For me that is finding out where I can make a difference right here where I live, focussing on giving back and lending a helping hand to whoever needs it, let my new home be my happy place, while spending energy on what I believe really matters in life: to help make the world a better place for everyone.
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Thank you for reading through this epiphany about my hopes & dreams. Maybe it resonates with some of you.