// Growing Pains //

Life Lessons on the road

april 5, 2018

Above: one year ago in Costa Rica contemplating my wild life decisions

Oh, what a year it has been.  It has been a year of excitement and challenge and smiles and pain. It has been a year of love. A year of growth and change. A year ago, I began a quest, which I believe to be a catalyst in my unique path to happy. And along the way, I just might have found what I was looking for in the most unlikely of places.

 

Within.

 

When people talk about self-growth and souls and breakthrough moments, they often skate over the discomfort and exhaustion it brings. Growing is painful. It means spending a lot of time alone in front of a mirror asking yourself uncomfortable questions. It means saying goodbye to people you love and experiences you hold dear, because you've outgrown them. It means recognizing bad habits and finding the inner strength to overcome them.

Above: Sunsets in Lisbon, Portugal

In this past year living nomadically, I've spent countless hours alone considering my worldview and personal decisions and how they align with who I want to be - who I am meant to be. And with all this time, it dawned on me that I have had the most warped views of independence and it has consequently affected the ways I relate to people. To me being independent meant, “me against the world” - completely self-sufficient. Sneering at the idea of needing anyone. Scoffing at the prospect of asking or accepting help of any kind. What I’ve learned: Independence doesn’t mean you don’t need people. We all need other humans in our lives, to love, grow, and share together.

 

Independence means taking responsibility for your feelings, actions and livelihood, and consistently making the decisions that serve you best, without harming others. You mustn't rely on others to function; you function to be your best self for yourself and for others. The key to being independent is to recognize you have all that you need within. You are able to provide for yourself and create your own happiness. But to be independent with others, is incredibly rewarding, as you continue on a path that serves your self-growth, while enjoying all those happy and challenging and soul-fulfilling individual moments with fellow humanity.

 

This also means being open to all types of people, and consequently, every opportunity for growth. I met so many amazing souls this last year. My “chosen family” grew stronger in my heart and in numbers. I fell in love. I had my heart broken more than once. I came to know what I was looking for and what I deserve in all types of relationships: family, friends, intimate partners, life partners. Every relationship is an opportunity for growth. If it suits our path, we have the opportunity to grow with someone for our entire lives. Sometimes we grow together for just a period of time, like college friends who grow apart or a marriage failed after just a few years. Sometimes we learn an immense amount about ourselves by talking to a stranger for just one night in a bar or crossing paths in an airport - the growth is evident, but life continues without them.

Above: Sunsets in Amsterdam & Rome

Growing also means committing to risk and having faith in opportunities that aren’t even real yet. Taking a leap into the unknown with no tangible proof of a happy ending. You must have faith that the opportunity will, at the very least, be a chance to grow and identify yourself. When you accept this, even a challenging journey is rewarded with a better understanding of who you are.

 

You draw into your life the experiences your soul needs to grow and to discover itself. There will be times that you attract life experiences and people which cause pain. It is easy to disregard these things as factors beyond your control. They’re not what you think you want, but subconsciously, they are the things that you need to wake up, to become the person you want to be and the person you strive to be, the person that you’re meant to be.

Above: Sunsets in Romania

And there are times when you are so true to yourself, your intentions, and your needs, that you begin to attract the exact opportunities and individuals you’ve been looking for. You manifest your reality. You have the power to draw the right people and opportunities into your life. The key to doing so is being honest with yourself about the experiences you truly need and desire. When you know yourself and love yourself, you recognize how painful moments steer you onto your most honest path. It’s a powerful moment, when we recognize we are getting exactly what we asked for; when we recognize that the new opportunity presented to us is exactly what we wished for - but, still, it takes incredible faith to move forward on this righteous path.

 

It's almost unbelievable the way things have fallen into place for me now. How clear my purpose has become. But it is equally terrifying. Wouldn’t it be easier to keep doing the same old things? Keep trading hours of my life for money. Continue to date the same types of men who don’t quite fit into the puzzle. Run away from my problems with a plane ticket. It would be easy. Too easy. But it would also guarantee a slow death. When we stop making conscious decisions, we stop living.

Above: Sunsets in Santorini & Athens

When it comes to making tough decisions in life, it reminds me a lot of gaining the courage to go to the gym. You think, “I’d rather stay in. PJs on. I don’t want to go…. Wah wah wah.” But when you go through with it, at the finish, you feel so accomplished and proud for pushing through and the rewards are boundless. It’s like being in that mindless job with the cushy paycheck or that safe (and boring) relationship. It’s easy to stay. It’s comfortable. You know what to expect. But the lack of challenge keeps you stagnant. You will never find your strength. You will never be your true self.

 

I’ve done it before. I’ve taken that leap of faith. I realized I don’t have to settle in any part of my life. I am in complete control of every element and anything that doesn’t serve me, must be abandoned, as it will infiltrate the rest of my life and make things harder over all. I choose to be happy. I choose to be successful. I choose to be a better version of myself everyday. I choose to share my experience with others. I choose to love. I choose me.

Above: Sunsets and Reflections in Cape Town, South Africa