Being born and raised in New York/New Jersey, I have always lived a fast paced life. I walk fast, I drive fast, I’m impatient as hell, and I feel as though I have always been in a rush. Moving to Florida definitely slowed down my pace a bit, but I still drive too fast and sometimes struggle with taking things slowly. Enjoying the minutes as they pass. Rushing through life.
This trip has allowed me to slow myself down. To take time during my meals and to truly enjoy myself. I think in American culture, there is so much pressure to do things quickly, especially in the restaurant business, that you don’t even get time to enjoy yourself. I always found it weird when people would order their appetizers and finish them before ordering their main meal, because I always want my food as fast as possible. Granted, I’m usually kind of a hangry bitch, but still. Now I understand. Now I understand because I have learned to take my time, move at a slower pace and enjoy myself.
I stretched out dinner for 2.5 hours while gazing at the Eiffel Tower from my AirBnb. I sat in the south of France on the Port of Marseille and sipped wine while enjoying every last bite of cheese and bread offered to me. If I have learned anything, enjoying myself is not sitting in bed and watching Netflix – it is enjoying every minute I have, without thinking about the next day or the past. I learned patience.
On this trip, this 90 day, 15 country, 45 city trip, I have learned about myself and what I am capable of. I have become comfortable with who I am and have only been unapologetically myself. I did not tuck myself away like I do a lot of the time. I let everyone I met see me for me. I have met so many people and I am so thankful for all of them, whether we just sat and talked at a bar or ended up meeting again in our journeys, the people I met made my trip what it was.
Going home, sitting in Heathrow Airport, it feels surreal but I feel calm and ready. It’s hard to believe I am at the end of my road. No more mental strain on where I am off to next. No more planning. Now I can focus on school, and focus on coming back here, and one day making a life for myself here in Europe.
That is the plan.
I’ll be back.
It’s been interesting to see and experience me coming out of my shell to the extent that it has over the last month. At home, I’m not really the most social person in the world, and I’m completely ok with that. My introversion gets the best of me and being busy doesn’t help. Nervous to say the wrong thing or come off as weird. The fear of being judged. But here, on this journey, there is no fear of that. I talk to people. I start conversations. I get a feel for people and who they are. My sense of humor, need for adventure, my willingness to have fun and let go and be completely myself, it’s all there in full force.
I’m kind of wondering where I’ve been. Why I’ve been hiding. Why the actual me disappeared in the first place. I guess adolescence took away a lot of my fun, crazy personality and turned it into awkwardness and fear. I never wanted to be the annoying one and I knew that maybe when I was 11 or 12 I didn’t know how to balance being fun. Always living with the thought that the people who were in my life would get sick of me. And it’s sad to say that sometimes they did. But kids are assholes.
I still come off at first a little more quiet. Or I just take a few conversations to get to know more. But I’ve heard more than once “you seem like a lot of fun” or “I can tell you know how to have a good time” and that’s such a weird switch that I’m not used to. Where I grew up I rarely went to parties, or went out, or was always on guard or apprehensive to actually have fun. But that’s when I was 14, or 16, or 18. And now I’m traveling Europe alone and I don’t dare to second guess a good time or doing exactly what I want.
I used to think about how I was a slightly different person with different people. It felt like I was living to be who they wanted me to be, or with some people there wasn’t that pressure at all, so I was always just me. But it never felt consistent. Always some part of me being suppressed or hidden away. Some saw the real me and some saw a slight variation of it. Less sarcastic. Less of a sense of humor. The more I figure myself out, the more I can let myself unwind.
I don’t think I’m afraid of being me anymore.
I guess some mornings after you go out in Barcelona you wake up at 8am when you only went to bed less than four hours ago. I have a nasty cough and I knew that going out last night would not be good for being sick but I wanted to go out in Barcelona at least once in my 4 nights here. Today all I have planned is to do laundry and visit Sagrada Familia.
I think I planned my trip well in a sense that I am definitely ready for my Contiki tour to start. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically an organized tour for 18-35 year olds. So for two weeks out of the 13 that I am traveling, I won’t have to worry about a single thing in terms of transportation or accommodation. I think it will be relieving to give my mind and body a rest from the stress and always being on alert. And I’ll be in some really amazing places, too.
I think if I want to promise myself anything for the rest of my trip, it is to write a poem each day, and to take at least an hour everyday to reflect – no cell phone, no data, nothing. Paper and pen. I think I really missed out on that these first few weeks but I am happy that I have been taking the time to write on here.
I’m sitting on a balcony at my hostel on a cloudy day. The sun is poking through the clouds, shining its light on me and the balcony, but it keeps disappearing.
I have learned a lot about myself so far on my trip. I don’t have to spend time with anyone that I don’t want to and I think that is refreshing. Sometimes it can be a little awkward to try and get away from people and to purposefully isolate yourself. Some people don’t understand and consider it to be weird or rude or offputting, but that’s just me, it is who I am. Sometimes you meet people you can’t wait to get away from. And I know that sounds kind of mean or unaccepting but I don’t think everyone is designed to click with everyone all the time. I do my best to understand people for who they are and what they have experienced but I struggle to resonate with people who refuse to learn about themselves. People who cannot grow from their experiences. A lot of the time that isn’t their fault. They just haven’t read enough. Or haven’t been low enough to have to crawl their way out of a hole, fingers bleeding. People are often shaped by what they experience but if they don’t understand how or why they are the way they are then they can’t better themselves.
Sometimes you get caught up in other people’s twisted games or immature behaviors and you want to ask the universe why did it have to be me? There never is an answer to that question. So the only thing to do then is to move on.
Sometimes you meet people who you feel like you have known for a long time. I am playful, I joke, I can be sarcastic and an asshole, some people don’t enjoy my humor and others only know how to enjoy it without interacting with it. But sometimes you meet people who can give it right back to you without it being uncomfortable. The banter is organic. The conversations are honest. It is the people like this that I have met along this journey that have made it all worthwhile. To serve as a reminder that… there are people in this world who will make you feel like you belong without even doing it on purpose. And those are the best people. The ones who make you shine. And the ones who make everything worth it.
I am officially one month into my trip. I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. Two more months to go.