I’m not one to make a big deal out of my own birthday, but on this glorious day of my birth I thought it would be appropriate to look back on my 25th year of life, since I think it really was a game-changer for me.
To be honest, the first half of 25 for me was a rough year. I was working in a job that felt like it was sucking the life out of me, I had a nearly non-existent social life (due to soul-sucking job), and I was still putting back together the pieces after a tough breakup had ripped my poor little heart apart. It was these things, mixed with the tugging feeling like I was missing something bigger, which forced me to consider even thinking about traveling. I spent the first few months of 25 feeling like I was flailing around in my own life. I tossed around so many possibilities of what I could do to make my life better. Find a new job? Go back to school to get a PhD? Go teach English in Thailand? But how could I give everything up so irresponsibly after I had worked so hard in school and sacrificed so much to move home and be close to my loved ones? I wrestled with these thoughts for months before finally coming to a decision.
I was at a yoga class with my aunt/best friend/confidant Alison, and at the end of the class the instructor begin telling a story about a little frog that lived on the edge of a river on a little rock all alone. When the floodwaters would rise, the little frog would cling to this rock, afraid of letting go of what it had always known, until one day the flood rose so high that it swept the little frog down the river. When the little frog finally surfaced on shore, it realized that it had washed up into a frog oasis, filled with other frogs just like it. And I guess the frog lived happily ever after. Then she continued on to explain, that sometimes when we cling to life inside of our comfort zones, we miss out on an entire world that we didn’t know existed. Sometimes you need to let go of your comfort zone; get out of your own zip code. I found myself crying on my yoga mat as the class ended, so Ali and I went to coffee to talk it out. As we discussed all of my fears I had about deciding to literally leave my own zip code, state, country, I began to feel more and more like I had already made the decision. By the end of that day, I wasn’t 100% sure about what I was going to DO, but I was 100% sure I was going to do SOMETHING.
I spent the next few weeks silently planning what I was going to do, and even deciding that going in with everything planned out wasn’t what I wanted, I wanted to leave some things ambiguous so I could be flexible and figure them out on the way.
The most difficult part of this was telling my parents. My parents have always supported me in everything I’ve decided to do with my life, but for the first time I felt as if I were making a decision that didn’t mesh with the plan they had for me, and that they were disappointed in the path I was going. This may sound strange to some people, that I care this much about what my parents think about my life when I’m a grown woman and can technically do whatever I want. I don’t care about what most people think about me and my choices. But my parents, who have always been my biggest cheerleaders, supporters, and best friends, those are the opinions I care about. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I wasn’t surprised when they spoke out against my decision to quit my job and travel for an unknown amount of time, but I was still sad. It has been one of the largest obstacles I’ve had to overcome on this trip, balancing the feeling that I’m disappointing them and the feeling inside me like what I’m doing is the correct move. I don’t know how, but I know that what I’m doing is right and that it’s going to work out.
So, let me also say this, since I know they are reading this. I thank my parents for being concerned about what the hell I’m doing with my life. It would really suck if they didn’t care. I’m glad that they disagreed with me, and that I was still able to make a decision that was contrary to what they thought, because there comes a point in any child’s life when they need to start living their life according to their terms, not someone else’s. But I still value my parent’s opinions more than anyone else’s, and I feel that this has made my relationship with them stronger (at least from my perspective), because I can call on them as parents, friends, and trusted advisors, but with the knowledge that I’m strong enough to make my own decisions (even if they are contrary to the group vote) and don’t need someone else to make them for me. And I hope for this they are proud, because hell, they raised me this way. J
The second part of 25 was clearly quite amazing, because I have been traveling the world, exploring new places, and discovering different depths of my personality. On top of struggling with the above feelings about my parents, I also had to deal with missing the hell out of them, along with my other loving family members and friends. I learned what it is like to be truly alone with your thoughts, and how that can be amazing and maddening at the same time. But it helped me work out a lot of my crap, and also helped me realize that not everything needs to be worked out. I smiled, laughed, cried, and had minor (and major?) meltdowns. I climbed mountains, swam in oceans, farmed the land, baked bread, walked around in ancient villages, saw some of the most spectacular art in the world, and rode every type of transportation possible (including camel). I’ve met ridiculous characters that will go into the book I write some day, people I’ve found impossibly annoying, and some of the most amazing people on this planet. I went to 16 different countries on two different continents, and more cities than I could possibly count.
All in all, I’m so happy to have this life that I’ve been handed, worked for, and enjoyed. I have an amazing support system, an education, and the finances that allow me to explore my dreams and this world. And I’m even more happy that I’m able to see all the good in my life; the new good and the good that has always been there.
I’m going home in 5 days, and I hope to explore many of the feelings that I haven’t really had time to think about, since traveling from city to city, country to country, is an overwhelming experience in itself. But 25 has been a hell of a year and I’m so excited to see what 26 has in store for me!