I have tested and stretched every relationship I have with family and friends back home. I never planned to travel for a year, it was never my intention but as I continue I can see the impact it has on my relationships.
For the most part, my friends have continued to support me, yes they miss me and yes they can´t wait to see me but they have been understanding. Some have encouraged me to continue and to come back once I´ve found what I was looking for. Of course, a lot of my friends are busy, working, living their life so it is not possible to talk to them on a regular basis but they are there. I know they are a phone call away or a email away. I have some amazing friends back at home who continue to hear me out even though I am a million miles away.
I am lucky that I have also not lost any friends, in the sense that none have stopped communicating with me. In fact, I have received the odd email here and there from friends I have not heard from in a long time. I have had some share the joys of their life, they got married or had a baby and I am thrilled for them. I continue to be a part of their life despite being so far. And that for me is friendship, yes it would be ideal to be continuously present and there for your friends and family physically but, this is not of course always possible.
We all physically remove ourselves from situations we don´t like or want to avoid. We hide from people we don´t want to talk to and call in sick when we haven´t prepared for a seminar. In the same way, we are able to go after all the things we like or want. For some of us drinking and dancing for others a movie night. I physically made myself leave last year, I left everything and everyone for the unknown. Some say it is running away from reality others say it is a break. For me, it´s my journey of self discovery.
I knew physically removing myself wouldn´t be enough, I would need to be present and ready in my mind for this trip. There is no real training for this, yes I had a lot of words of encouragement but essentially it came down to the voice in my head. I know many a times during this trip whilst I am physically present, my mind has wondered off and is back home in London or thinking about a ex-client. It may sound crazy but it is easily done. I bring myself back to the present when this happens but it is about disciplining our mind and thoughts so we are fully present in the now.
Mind, body, soul. I needed to invest my soul in this trip, be prepared to expose myself to the unknown and to take a leap of faith. Laughter is fuel for the soul as is love. If we are lucky to have both we don´t really need much more. The idea of opening up and investing in a place or relationship is terrifying especially when travelling as you know it will come to an end. But this thankfully hasn´t stopped me. I have continuously given as much as I can to places or people I have met and the universe conspires to give me what I need. Feeling sad is inevitable sometimes, it is part of the emotional roller-coaster and I am learning to love the highs and the lows of travelling.
People, people can be amazing in many ways, they can change how you feel or think or what you do. My faith in humanity was restored many months ago but I realise that not all people are amazing. Not all are here to help or to understand you. No, their sole purpose is to pass judgement, to frown upon your decisions and to disapprove of everything you chose to do. The narrow-mindedness and lack of acceptance clouds their character and whilst deep down they may be a wonderful person none of that is evident on the surface.
I am a very patient person, always have been, I am also very chilled and generally don´t get worked up about things. I can live with not sleeping one night, not eating, walking in the scotching heat, getting lost, missing a bus, not being heard, being mis-understood, losing some money, getting lost; the list is endless. The point being, it takes a lot for me to dislike you or for me not to give you the time of day. I am a great listener, the best in my family and this consequently means everyone pours their heart out to me. Again, I can live with this, but it is when no one listens to me that I want to pull my hair out. I don´t judge people, you´re white, black, brown, straight, guy, married, in love, dating, jobless I quite frankly don´t care. What do I care about? I care about what kind of person you are, are you kind, caring, understanding? I listen with a open mind and give a person the benefit of the doubt. I don´t jump to conclusions and in the same way, I expect the same back.
Perhaps it is naive of me to expect this or unrealistic but this is what I need. On the whole, most of my closest friends have gone up and beyond and never judged me. Yes, I have made mistakes, yes I can be young and stupid but then that´s life. If we were all straight up, law abiding citizens it would be pretty dull and boring. I learn from the mistakes I make and of course am not proud of them but I can´t go back and change it. I have friends who always see the glass half full, who search for the silver linings, who´s first words are “don´t worry, it will be fine”. Now, of course, we don´t know if it will be fine, I hope it will be but no one knows for sure but hearing that from a friend is sometimes the only thing we need.
I can´t control people´s reaction and I don´t want to. I appreciate all my friends who laugh at my mistakes and who make me see the funny side. They don´t make me feel shit or stupid. They don´t shout at me or judge me unnecessarily. I have friends who know me better, understand me better and accept me more than my family. I know my parents are traditional and they are set in their ways, I don´t expect them to change. I know how hard they find it to accept that I am still here and not home. Most of the decisions I make or the choices I made were frowned upon, questioned, judged, ridiculed and mis-understood. I know I have to accept they will never change, they will never really understand me and even though they love me, they will never be happy for me as I would like them to.
Other than my parents, I have two sisters, one older and one younger. My older sister and I have never seen eye to eye and over the years have grown further and further apart. I wanted very much to bridge the gap and I tried, I called, I messaged but it was a little too late or perhaps it is something she doesn´t want. Her perspective on life is very different, whilst I want to be a ball of joy, she is a rain cloud. I know we have had a very different life and we have been exposed to different opportunities but is a shame we are so distant. Maybe some day the distance will disappear but for now, we don´t talk.
As for my other sister, my best friend, she is different to me but was my go to person. I have called her numerous times and heard her rant endlessly about work, family and life. We have had two hour conversations about everything under the sun and both hang up feeling satisfied that whilst we are so far apart we can still laugh until we cry. I have always called my sister about major decisions or dreams I have. No matter how crazy they sound to her, I am determined to make them happen. From wanting to move out, applying for a school school in Prague, travelling with my flat-mate, sky diving, getting my first tattoo, my eyebrow piercing to quitting my job and volunteering in Vietnam. All of these things were life changing moments for me and I wanted to share them with my person first, my best friend.
Nearly all these and other ideas were met with caution and advice telling me to think again, research more or to wait. To be fair, my sister has not ventured out and done any of the above so to a point I understand her reservations. Yet at the same time, all I ever wanted to hear was, that sounds great, you should totally go for it, a little encouragement from her would have gone a long way. I appreciate that this is not her, I can´t change who she is and I don´t want to. She is entitled to her opinion and concerns. I have to accept her for who she is and not someone who I want her to be.
I finally realised that when I have a crazy idea I want to tell someone that is supportive and understanding. Someone who may think it is crazy but will laugh with me and not at me. Someone who gets me and understands that I have these spontaneous moments when I think I want nothing more than to buy a house even though I don´t have a regular income. Here´s the thing, I´m well educated, I work hard, I´m ambitious and I´m also determined to make the most of live. To live and enjoy every moment possible, to create amazing memories, to have no ´what if´ moments and no regrets. Yes I´m crazy but then that´s good, I have crazy friends and that´s all we need sometimes.
I appreciate all the people that have been there for me, not judged but accepted me and given me the time and space to open up. My person, well he or she would do the same. I realise I thought my sister was my person but she is not, how can she be when she doesn´t get me. I accepted her but then always wanted her to be someone she wasn´t. I was wrong to want her to change so she could meet my needs. At the same time, I don´t think I am her person because I am not who she needs me to be. I am too out there and well she isn´t.
We are chalk and cheese and whist I knew this, I never realised the true impact of this. She doesn´t understand my life choices and I don´t understand hers. It is both a sad but liberating feeling. I am no longer going to try and get her to see things from my point of view. I am no longer going to try and fix our relationship. I know what I need and I am going to invest my time in getting it. In the meantime I have been blessed with friends who are here for me, that make me laugh and make me appreciate the now. These friends help drive my soul on a rainy afternoon, into the unknown, with no plan and little idea about which way to turn.