21-Day Writing Challenge Day 11 – Staying Comfortable

Being comfortable is a great feeling.

As per its actual definition, what’s not to like about something ”providing physical ease and relaxation”?

Comfort is important, but it can also prevent us from moving on to even better things.

I have a lot of friends who are not really willing to try new food. They will sometimes, usually following some peer pressure, but they much rather stick to what they know. And funnily enough, I used to be quite similar. I would go to a select few restaurants, and try food that was likely to be within a certain taste range.

I was quite comfortable in my life for a long time. I had started reading and following people who were talking about personal growth. Inspiring people like Earl from Wandering Earl, Niall Doherty from Disrupting the Rabblement as well as Mark Manson well known now for his latest book: The subtle art of not giving a fuck. They all started with easy steps. Walking in new neighborhoods, ordering something new or even going to a new restaurant.

They were traveling the world and blogging about it. And of course from my couch in Fort St. John, BC it seemed like something impossible. I would never be brave enough to have that kind of lifestyle. I was afraid of so many things, I couldn’t see how I could even survive the insects I would meet or all the other challenges.

I was comfortable.

But I was also finally willing to step out of my comfort zone. Not in a massive way, but I followed some advice I found online and started to walk back home using different streets. I pushed myself slowly and eventually I discovered that it wasn’t all that scary after all. And that the worst thing that could happen was for me not to like something new I tried. And that it was okay. As long as I tried.

Being comfortable is not wrong in itself, but I know it tends to be the easiest choice. For me, anyway.

It’s the same when it comes to relationships. It’s a lot easier to stay in a comfortable relationship, even if it’s not what you want it to be than to leave and learn to be alone again.

Work can also be very comfortable. You know what to expect. You settle in tasks you feel confident about. You can sit at your desk and not even think consciously about what you are doing since it’s always the same. It’s automatic.

Maybe you teach. And because you know your subject and have been teaching it the same way for years, you keep going. That is one example that I experienced rather closely when I was working in a school teaching French. I had learned a new and very efficient method of learning and teaching a second language using gestures and wanted to share that with the teachers. Some of them were willing to give it a try. Some wanted nothing to do with anything taking them out of their normal schedule. And others went all in.

At first, I couldn’t understand why some teachers didn’t even want to give it a try, especially after months of seeing it used in other classes and seeing how good it was. But now, looking back, I see that they were afraid. It was very different than what they knew and didn’t know how to be comfortable with the change.

Just like I was with food before.

I’ve come a long way from the person I was a few years ago. I’m a lot more confident in trying new things in all aspects of my life, knowing full well that once I’ve tried it and find out I do not like it, I can move on to something else. I have no obligation to stick to everything I try. Except for the obligation of not simply accepting to be comfortable.

Being comfortable in certain aspects of one’s life is okay, as long as we are aware of it and not simply think that this is all that life has to offer.

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 10 – Longing for Adventure

Some people dream of owning a bigger house. Some dream of becoming the CEO of a business. And others dream of having a big family.

I don’t.

My dreams are a lot different. I dream of exploring the world and embarking on crazy adventures. Non-stop. Until I no longer want that lifestyle.

As some people sometimes remind me, I’ve already done a lot of insane things but it’s still not enough.

Every time I hear about people having gone on true though expeditions or experience, it reignites my passion. Not that it ever dies, but sometimes it does quiet down a bit.

In the last week, I’ve watched movies and YouTube films about a couple who traveled for 5 years around the world with their family, before attempting and succeeding at crossing the North West Passage. I’ve watched episodes about a guy doing what’s probably one of the longest road trips, from Chile all the way up to Alaska, in a VW combi.

Their images are all insane. The scenery of Alaska, among other places, has really made me want to add that destination to my never-ending list. But what struck to me the most as being inspiring is that they kept going. They didn’t quit.

Traveling for extended periods of time is challenging in itself, but in a small camper van or on a sailboat it’s a whole other level of challenge. There are always things that break, and usually, it’s when you are not ready for it and do not have spare parts. Or when you are in the middle of nowhere and when there’s no one around to come and help you. That’s the part I find particularly impressive. The fact that they didn’t let that deter them. They kept going. It most likely included a decent amount of cussing and swearing and of course they would have had to simply to get back to civilization eventually, but even when they had the opportunity of quitting, they made the decision to keep going.

I’ve done the same to a certain extent in my life, but since it’s not my strongest quality (I tend to be a quitter when things become difficult) I find this even more impressive. And it makes me want to keep working on developing that side of me too.

One day I would love to buy myself a sailboat, or get a small camper van and hit the road. Or the wild. As this is usually where adventure awaits.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’ll get to New Zealand, but if anybody hears of something epic to do, an amazing crew to join, or simply something unique, I’m all ears!

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 9 – Unbeliever

During my travels, at work and with friends in Dubai, and even within my extended family, I’ve been surrounded with people who believe. They obviously do not necessarily share the same beliefs or the same faith, but most people I know believe in something. Something bigger. Some call it God, others Allah, or the Light.

Every time it comes up, I find myself getting envious. Not because of what they do in life or their possessions, but because I too would like to believe in something.

But I guess I take after my grandfather after all. Although he ended up being a believer in something bigger, he was raised in Catholicism. He went to a Catholic boarding school, mostly because my great-grandmother was quite sick, but probably also because I can imagine he would have been quite argumentative. So having him only on weekends and school holidays was most likely more than enough!

Once he finished his schooling years, he married but it was always very clear religion was not something for him. He didn’t understand the need to go to mass, confess one’s sin, or anything else related to Christianity. He would let my grandmother go, of course, but didn’t put any pressure on my mother and her siblings to go.

My mother also grew up quite far from religion but found her own different faith. My father never talked about religion either, even though his parents still go to church to this day. So growing up with my parents, I was told religion was my own decision. I could decide whether I was doing my first communion or not. I didn’t feel any connection to Catholic religion at that point, so I decided not to do it. I knew I could always go back and do it later on should it become something I wanted.

This freedom of faith was great. I was not only allowed to make up my own opinion and find what suited me most but encouraged to do so.

I’m not sure at this point if my parents expected me to lose faith. Although losing would be a big word since I never really had faith. Do this day, I still struggle to figure out whether or not I believe in something bigger, or if we are just a happy accident after a series of somewhat unique events.

Having traveled a fair bit, met people from many different faiths, but mostly seen many different ways to live and struggle, I find it harder and harder to believe there would be a god out there.

If there is one, why is he inflicting so much pain on people who did nothing to deserve it?

Since I don’t believe in religions, I don’t buy in the Heaven vs Hell debate. And according to most religions, because of my nonbelief, I’ll most likely end up in Hell anyway.

At least I won’t be cold.

As I mentioned earlier, I am sometimes envious of people who believe. As a friend of mine told me one day I was having a hard time, god only puts the challenges he knows you can go through on your path.

Having this belief running in the background would be really helpful in trusting that one can make it. No matter what is happening to them.

But since I do not have those crutches to lean on, I find myself losing the faith that I can accomplish things at times.

Will I ever believe in a religion? It’s probably unlikely. I might, however, develop the belief in something bigger. Maybe one day I’ll connect to some beliefs, or maybe I won’t. And it’s fine either way, as long as I always stay true to my own values.

When I die, maybe I’ll be proven wrong. But until then I’ll keep on carrying on, and do my best every day. After all, as a human with a conscious mind, that’s pretty much all I can do.

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 8 – Reading

Reading is my favorite thing to do when I’m not feeling too sure about my life or my choices. If I’m stressed, bored or have a long travel ahead of me, I simply love losing myself in someone else story and adventure.

I grew up seeing both my parents read a lot. They still do to this day, both having at least one or two books on the go at the same time. When I was a kid, a lot of Sunday mornings were actually spent sitting on the couch, listening to music and being all lost in the different environments our books provided.

I used to always have a book with me, just in case I would have to wait somewhere and could get immersed back into another story. I would often get so much into the story, I would be very distracted from what I was doing, either walking, cooking etc. I remember even reading every morning while I waited for my school bus. I would read all the way to the very last minute, and as soon as I would hear the distinct sound of the bus coming up my street, I would zip up my coat and go outside.

One morning in particular, in the midst of a very cold winter, I was so engrossed in my book that I forgot to put my boots on, stepping outside into the wet snow in my socks. I had to run back inside, get my boots and run back to the bus. After this event, I would always make sure to put my boots on before grabbing my book again. I would also double check that I had actually finished getting dressed and was not still wearing my PJ pants!

Reading books is captivating. You can travel to the other end of the world simply with some words. You can learn what it’s like to be a farmer in Thailand, a teacher in a very difficult environment, a time-traveler, a new world explorer, or even a rich teenager in Manhattan (although I’m not sure how accurate that description can be!)

Maybe it’s why I love it so much when people tell me their own life stories. I can not only picture myself in their shoes, but it also helps make sense of who they are, what they like and what drives them.

Words can express so much, or be very ambiguous depending on how we use them. I for one can sometimes try to understand the meaning behind someone’s text. I don’t know if it’s a woman’s thing or an avid reader’s thing but I admit I tend to analyze every word. It can lead to some frustration sometimes, especially since not everyone gives as much importance to words as I do.

It’s the same when we talk. We can use a lot of words and say nothing, but we can also say nothing, and with that silence carry a lot of meaning.

Human communication and the lack thereof is fascinating to me. And also how very different it is depending on the language we use. I wish I would be better at expressing how I feel, and be more precise when I communicate. But just like anything else, it is with practice that we improve.

In the last few years, I had been mostly concentrating on reading non-fiction books. My favorites ones have actually been about subjects I didn’t know anything about. A book about exploring the deepest caves of the world and one about waves being two of the books that have left a lasting impression on me.

Other fascinating books I’ve read in the last few years have been about our human brains and how we think. Or more accurately how we think we think and make decisions. Spoiler alert, we are very good at telling ourselves stories and actually believing them when there’s absolutely no truth to them.

Lately though, thanks to my mom’s library card, I’ve gotten into fiction again, and I have to admit I had missed it a lot more than I thought. Watching series is nice, but there’s something more about reading. I like the fact that even though things and characters tend to be detailed, you can still very easily make them your own. We need to use some of our imagination when reading, whereas watching a movie feels a lot more passive. It’s a bit like eating pre-masticated food. It still feeds us, but it’s a lot better if I can experience the various flavors on my own!

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 7 – Taking ownership

 

It’s always much easier to play the victim than to take ownership. You know the drill: It’s not my fault, I failed because the exam was too difficult. I don’t have time to cook for myself or to make lunch, yet I spend hours watching series at night.

Some reasons why we can’t do something are genuine. There are many things that are out of our control, but most of the time, in my experience anyway, I’m the one slacking off.

We tend to think people are out there to get us. They are working against us. It’s someone else fault if we don’t get promoted if we don’t have money to travel or can’t lose weight. The truth is, most people don’t actually give a damn about us as they are busy figuring out their own lives. And most likely worrying and having the same kind of reactions to whatever is thrown their way.

It’s too easy to forget that we make our own decisions every day. I’ve had a lot of people tell me how lucky I was to be living the life I chose and how they wish they could but they can’t. Some of my friends actually can’t because of the passport they travel with, but any of my friends with a Canadian, American or UK passport could easily live exactly the same life.

Usually, when people tell me they couldn’t afford my lifestyle, they own a house, have one or two cars, brand new TVs, and furniture, etc. It’s true that with all of that there’s not much money left to travel. But it’s a choice. It’s not a matter of not being able to. It’s not wanting to. And it’s totally fine. As long as we are being honest with ourselves about the reasons we don’t live the same lives.

In the same way, sometimes I wish I’d have a career. Especially when I see my successful friends. But then I remember that I made the choice to work here and there and travel in between. In order to build a career, you have to stay somewhere. Work your way up the ladder. At least in most industries. So while I like the idea of being able to tell people I’m successful, I’m not actually interested in taking the steps to make it happen. I’m not ready for those concessions.

I do also like the idea of having a long-term relationship, however, my need to travel and explore the world is seemingly still stronger than the fantasy of having a couple unit. And while I know there are probably guys out there living a similar life as me who could also be looking for someone to share the lifestyle with, the chances of being in the same country at the same time and actually meeting up are rather slim!

I struggle almost every day to remember that while some things are indeed happening to me, most of it is my own doing. I’ve made many lifestyles choices, which means some things I’ll most likely never have unless I change my mind. Reminding myself that I do have a say in everything I do, helps me see that if something is not how I want it to be, there’s a pretty good chance I can actually do something about it!

As Bernard Werber said: We are all prisoners of our own legend, our own stories we tell ourselves. It’s easier to go with the flow, but when we feel a disconnect and feel like things are happening to us, maybe it’s time to make a new assessment and see if our life is still what we want it to be. Being more aware and making adjustments when necessary is so easy. In theory anyway! In practice, it’s more of a touch-and-go process. One step at a time getting closer to taking ownership and making regular conscious choices.

And with this, it is the completion of the first week of my 21-Day Writing Challenge. It’s not always easy to sit at my computer and force myself to write something. Certain days the inspiration is there, and other days I sit in front of a blank page for a while. Certain posts are a lot better than others, but since the goal of this challenge is not about writing something good, but simply writing something, I’m also learning to let my usual perfectionism go.

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 6 – Buying my next flight ticket

After a little more than a month of relaxing and catching up with my family and friends, I was starting to get anxious. As usual, when I come back to Canada, I’m afraid I will not find the strength to leave again. I know how silly it is, especially since I always leave again without much issue but the problem remains.

This time, my struggle was to decide to either go on holiday somewhere new and then eventually make my way to New Zealand, or to go there right away. I have a working holiday visa for the country which means that because I am Canadian and under 35, I am allowed to travel and work in the country for up to 23 months.

In the last few days, I had been feeling quite down. I couldn’t seem to be able to make up my mind. So I decided it was going to be it. I was going to make a decision, buy a ticket and finally relax.

I was getting ready to buy a ticket from Canada to New Zealand but it had a super long layover in California. Since it’s already a very long flight, I wasn’t too keen on waiting for hours in an airport. That’s when I received a message.

A friend of mine whom I met in Dubai but now is back in France was telling me how much she needed a few days away to breathe and find herself again. I’ve been missing her a lot since she left, so I started to check into flights to go to Europe, so we could catch up.

One search led to the other and eventually I found a decently priced flight from Québec City to Lisbon, in Portugal. Having never been to that country and having only heard good things, I jumped on the occasion and booked my flight out of Canada.

During my search, I also found a somewhat decently priced one-way flight to New Zealand. It was leaving from Zurich though, so at first, I thought I could always get a low-cost flight to catch up with that long haul. I wasn’t too excited at the prospect of spending only one night in Switzerland in December. Not because of the country itself, since I actually love how stunning Switzerland is.  But mostly because it’s already been snowing here for a few days and I know that I’ll have enough of winter in a few weeks time. With a few more searches, I  ended up finding a similar flight out of Lisbon.

My decision was made.

Sometimes all we need is to commit to making a decision for the fog to start lifting and for us to be able to see more clearly. The flight from Portugal to New Zealand is a rather long flight, but at least it’s a more direct route, with only one short layover on the way. So not only do I get a flight much better suited for me, but I also get to have a week-long holiday on my way!

I don’t know yet if my friend will be able to make it work and catch up with me in Lisbon. While I do hope so, finally booking my flight out of the country was exactly the push I needed. It refilled my inner energy, and finally, after a few weeks of not-so-relaxing sleep, I finally slept through the night, even though the snow plow were busy cleaning the streets all night.

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 5 – Relationships

 

Over the last year, I have attempted to have some relationships. I call these attempts as they didn’t really work out too well.

In one instance, we seemed to connect to a deeper level, enjoy each others company and a decent chemistry. So it made sense to try to be together. We soon realized this was not going to work. As much as I like and respect him, we are simply too different and didn’t actually want to be in a relationship. We are much better off as friends, and should most likely have kept it that way from the start.

My second attempt worked a lot better. It was very sweet. We had adjustments to make of course, but it was off to a very good start. Until he had to leave the country. It put a stop to an otherwise mostly nice story.

Shortly after I went on holiday to New Zealand (and to get my working holiday visa started). There I met someone else with whom I had a much deeper connection. We talked and shared just about everything, including things I had actually never opened up to anyone about. It was intense. Maybe too intense.

Meeting someone, opening up like never before and spending all day every day together for about 10 days was a lot. We both have a lot of things to work on. And when I left I realized it was too much for what I could handle.

Looking back I can see why all of these attempts were doomed from the start. I wasn’t looking to be in a relationship for a good reason.

I just wanted to feel something,

I wanted to distract myself from my boredom.

But mostly I was trying to avoid working on myself as I knew I had to.

I became one of those ”desperate 30-something woman” I swore I would never be. I had seen some of my friends go from one short relationship to the other. And from the outside, I could clearly see they were looking for a connection. Any connection really. Some of them had even lowered their standards so much it was actually quite sad. They would put up with just about anything not to be alone. And to feel like someone cared.

And there I was.

Trying to find a connection. Looking for someone else to focus on so I would stop seeing the stuff I need to work on.

I felt bored and lonely in a city I didn’t know much. I had been alone for a while by then and it felt good to have the impression that someone cared for me. Not someone who was part of my family, or that I was working with. So people who seemingly chose to spend time with me, not because they had to but because they wanted to.

That should have been my first clue. I didn’t enter any of the relationships from a good place. I entered the first one because I needed to connect to something I was familiar with (we had met about a year before). The second one was my attempt at entertaining and distracting myself. It was nice but when it ended I was left feeling hurt because of our lack of proper communication and deeper conversations.

So when I arrived in New Zealand and connected on a deeper level it was filling that connection void I felt.

If any of my friends would have experienced any of these I would have most likely told them they needed to spend time on their own, create their own meaningful relationships and experiences and stop waiting on someone else to give them a sense of worth.

But because I was the one experiencing it, I didn’t want to take my blinders off. It was a lot easier to simply keep going. It’s always much easier to wait for someone else to make a decision for ourselves. A lot easier than to admit that maybe I hadn’t made the right decisions. And that being with someone was not going to fill the void I was feeling in a such a superficial city. I needed to fill that gap on my own.

These kind of situations are always so easy to see when we look back on them, or when someone else is living them. It’s a lot harder to see our life and choices for what they truly are. I’m not really proud of how I handle any of these ”relationships” but hopefully I have learned from my experiences and will not be repeating the same pattern.

Fingers crossed!

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 4 – Guilt

Guilt.

Is there any stronger emotion that exists?

Of course, there probably is. Fear and love are rather strong (and for me tend to come together…), but to me nothing makes me feel as emotionally drained as guilt.

I’ve been carrying so much guilt already in my life, it sometimes feels like my shoulders are so fucking heavy. Like many people, I’ve been carrying guilt that doesn’t even belong to me, as well as guilt from things I fucked up.

Some of the guilt in my sometimes heavy baggage came to light after some of my travels. Exploring the world made me see that I was so lucky to have been born to a peaceful and quiet country. Lucky enough to have been given supportive parents and having never lacked anything in my early life. I was fed, clothed, had tons of toys and learning experiences. Not everybody is so damn lucky.

Even in Canada, there’s a lot of people living in poverty or abusive households. And as I ventured into the world, I became ever so aware of my sheer luck to having been born in the place and time I did. The guilt came from the fact that I in no way deserved any of this more than anyone I’ve met. Actually, I’ve met many people way more deserving than me. Which brought some oh so familiar feeling of guilt.

Now I do know it is silly to feel guilt towards things I don’t have any control over. But as most of our human emotions, they are rather irrational.

I’ve also collected guilt in some of my relationships with some friends and family members. What I think is the usual amount of guilt when it comes to friendship and not being as present as I could be. There’s this sentiment that life will always go on and that we will have more time. So we push that phone call further down the to-do list.

In a similar fashion, I’ve experienced, and still strongly feel guilt towards one of my younger cousin. She had a hard life. A lot more difficult than mine. She grew up in a rather dysfunctional family, with an absent dad and a not so present mom. While growing up my parents would often take her with us on our monthly visit to the capital city. She was like a sister to me. We were really close growing up, even through our teenage and young adult years, however, when I moved to British-Columbia I decided to focus more on reinforcing my relationship with my boyfriend and making a life for myself there. I stopped answering her calls. And when I did I was always busy and wanting to hang up quickly.

My cousin grew up with a lot of medical issues, having brain operations when she was very little and throughout her life. She was the most kind-hearted person I’ve ever met. Most people would probably give up on others, but she had tremendous amounts of love to give and simply wanted to be loved back.

We drifted apart, not because she wanted to but because I wanted to live my own life and put some distance between my old life and my new life. She needed help and someone to talk to but I wasn’t there. She never blamed me for it. But I do.

In the last few years, she had a lot of complications with her brain problems. She had lost a lot of her memory, was very confused and convinced she was going to go back to school. It was really painful to see her believe it all when we knew she would have to be put in a home. And last year she died.

I was actually in Canada last summer, but I couldn’t work out the courage to go and see her. And that is where most of my guilt lay. I should have been there for her when she needed me. It’s easy to be there for people when everything goes fairly smoothly. It’s something else to still be there when the person is not even there anymore. I know full well she would have never blamed me for any of it. She was just simply happy when we would think of her, see her and love her. Her love was limitless.

The anniversary of her death is coming up, and while there’s nothing I can do now to be more present, I will definitely try my hardest to be more present for the other people I care about.

We often think we are present because we are somewhere physically with someone, but I now make a conscious effort to leave my phone in my bag and take the time to truly listen to my friends and family when they speak. I’m not saying it’s happening naturally all the time, but I do not want to have that regret with someone else in my life. I want Alex’s life to have been worth it and to have made a difference.

Guilt is a very strong emotion, but since I carry it, I might as well try to use it to grow instead of drowning in it. And maybe with time, it will fade away.

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 3 – Someone I swore I would never be

 

Last night I was listening to my guilty pleasure when it comes to music: Pink. And while listening to her latest album a sentence really struck me. She says: ”And now [I] turned into someone that I swore I would never be”. ¹

It made me realize that to a certain extent, I have indeed turned into someone I had sworn I would never become. Still processing my recent return to the city I grew up in, it made me think. When I was a teenager, I had rather specific expectations of how my life should be and what I didn’t want it to be. Like most teenagers, I didn’t want to become my parents. Not that there’s anything wrong with it (thankfully since we all seem to turn exactly into our parents eventually) but as young people, we tend to want to be the total opposite and reject most of our parent’s values and habits, mostly out of rebellion.

I was a very typical teenager in that sense, while I kept most of my anger inside (exploding at times of course), I was determined I would have a different kind of life. I would have a career, I would work hard to have everything to make me successful. I would have a very different relationship than my parents. When people would wrong me or hurt me, I would simply get rid of them. Not keeping in touch just for long-time sake or for family’s sake. And I would definitely not have any children. I didn’t want anyone else to go through the difficulties in my life and having to live with depression as I did. I had read an article saying that depression could possibly be hereditary and there’s no way I would risk that.

Now if you know me, you’ll notice that I did not end up quite where I had planned! I always wanted to go and explore the world, but I thought I would go for a round-the-world trip, live it fully and then settle down in my adult life. I naively thought I would become an adult when I would be in my 20s. Laughable now but I deeply believed it. Clearly, I hadn’t realized that there might not be such a thing as adulting, but instead, everyone trying to conform to what’s expected, and improvising as they go.

I did try to have a career, but then as soon as I got the opportunity to move to the other end of the country, I literally jumped on the occasion. To my defense, it was supposed to be temporary. Temporary just turned out to be much longer than the original plan!

By then I had gone on a backpacking trip to Europe for a few months, and it ignited something in me. I knew I wanted to go on a real round-the-world trip, but I no longer could see how I would manage to do that while working on building a career.

Eventually, after a few years of following my teenage plan, I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t set off for my big once-in-a-lifetime trip in my 20s, I would most likely not have the courage to do it later on. So I did.

And it changed everything. I changed my perspective on life. I meet inspiring people and saw that I no longer wanted the type of life I initially thought I wanted.

In that respect I did turn into someone I never thought I would. I never thought I would have explored 40+ countries, visited the Antarctic on a sailboat, started jumping off planes for the fun of it, etc.

I did also turn into someone I swore I would never be on certain subjects. I always told myself I didn’t want the kind of relationship my parents had. There was nothing wrong with their relationship per se, but it lacked the passion I dreamed of. Yet I stayed in a long-term relationship that ended up very similar to what I had seen growing up. Supportive, calm and comfortable but a rather passionless relationship.

Parts of my personality are definitely not what I wanted them to be. I’m a lot more forgiving than I thought as I’ve realized that people, including myself, make mistakes and can change. People can do stupid and hurtful stuff and there’s a pretty damn good chance I’ve done exactly the same to someone else.

As they say: only one who hasn’t sinned can throw the first stone. Not that I believe in any of this religious stuff, but this sentence always stayed with me. People will make mistakes. Hopefully, they will learn from them. I’m people, at least most of the time, so I’ll fuck up too. And looking back I can see that I’ve done way more than my fair share of fuck-ups so while I’m a lot more forgiving than teenage me thought was a good amount, I’m glad most people are also pretty damn forgiving!

This song reminded me to check where I’m at, and see if I’m okay with who I am. And if some parts of me are not okay by my current standards, it’s up to me to make the adjustments necessary.

¹ Barbies, a song by Pink on her album called Beautiful Trauma

21-Day Writing Challenge Day 2 – Being Afraid

 

Every time I come back to Quebec it feels like I’ll never be able to leave and I’ll never find something new to do. It was the same when I came back after 15 months of travels with my ex. That time I also had to deal with a separation after a long-term relationship, so I thought this time wouldn’t be as bad. But it is.

I don’t feel like myself. I hate the person I become when I am here mostly because I get scared of just about anything. I’m scared to have to find a job here as I don’t think my experience abroad will be recognized much. I”m afraid to move to New Zealand and have to start everything all over again, meeting people, finding a job. I’m also scared to go travel on my own again. It feels like I don’t know how anymore. Even though I know this is stupid because I’ve done all of this before, the fears are still there.

They seem to be paralyzing my ability to think somewhat clearly. And I don’t really know how to move past those fears. In those moments I wish I would have some support. Someone to simply ask me what I am so afraid of. To ask me those questions I do not really want to ask myself. So I could find answers and see where the blockage actually stands. Since I don’t really have anyone seemingly ready to push me past what I’m trying to ignore, I’ll have to ask myself those questions.

What am I so afraid of?

I’m deadly afraid of making the bad decision. The same way I wonder if leaving Dubai was the right decision. I know it was, the same way I knew it was time for me to end my long-term relationship, but at the time I was worried it wasn’t the right decision. At the same time, I do know that there’s no such thing as a right or wrong decision. Once the decision is made, one simply has to go with it and move on with their lives. As usual, this is a lot easier said than done.

Why can’t I make a decision knowing all of this?

Because my entire life I’ve been extremely hard on myself, accepting nothing but success and being the best. Or at least that’s how it was when I was a kid. I haven’t been the best at anything in a very long time, so I should know that there is no such thing, yet I still expect perfection in all I do. This makes the bar so high and half the time I give up before even trying. And then, of course, I do not succeed. I do envy and appreciate people who can keep their focus and keep going especially when things get though.

I usually have the same learning curve no matter what I do. I’ll start off quite well, especially for a beginner, giving me hopes that this (whatever it could be) is something I could actually obtain a decent level in, something I might be naturally inclined and talented to do. And then I reach a plateau. I no longer progress. Not to my liking anyway. I might still progress but to a much slower pace. Since I’m not patient I get frustrated. Once I’m frustrated about not progressing as fast anymore, I start getting even harder on myself, ending up feeling worthless.

It’s such an obvious pattern, it really annoys and frustrates me not to be able to move on from it. I guess that just like anything else, it feels comfortable, so it’s reassuring. I know exactly how trying something new will make me feel. The pattern is well defined and it seems everything I try falls in the same category. Whether it was writing, learning new languages, skydiving, or pole fitness. I’ve repeated the same pattern with all of these in the last couple of years. And I’ve pretty much given up on all of it.

It makes me hate myself for being able to see the patterns, but still not being able to do things differently. So instead of keep trying, I give up. I find myself some excuses.

I’ll never be a published author anyway so why bother?

I don’t plan on traveling to Spanish speaking countries or German-speaking countries any time soon so why should I keep trying to improve my vocabulary and pronunciation?

I struggle with my accuracy. And by adjusting my fall rate to other people when skydiving. I don’t want to be the one to fuck up the jump. So I jump alone. And I don’t make progress. Then I go on and pretend I prefer it this way. While it is true that I do like to jump on my own at times because I finally feel free of all my worries and can be in the moment. However, if I want to improve I need to put in the work. And since I had such a hard time getting my A license, I don’t want to go back to that struggle and worthless feeling.

It was also the same in pole fitness. I will never perform, this is not at all what I wanted when I started anyway. So why don’t I just see it as a fun hobby and not beat myself up because my brain and body don’t seem to be able to understand how to get into a handspring?

If any of my friends were telling me everything I just wrote I would be the first one to shake them up and remind them just how far they have come and if any of these were easy a lot more people would be doing it. But because I’m me, I keep letting it slide and hating myself for it as it’s a lot easier.

I’ve had enough of this though. I’ll observe what my successful friends have done and copy their behavior. They might have struggled at times, and most likely failed. Probably even multiple times in a row. But they used that experience as a way to push themselves forward instead of crushing their own souls. No one will cheer me up. Or at least I shouldn’t expect anyone to do it. I shouldn’t need anybody’s approval to learn what I want and live the life I need.

I’ll try as much as possible to get back up every time I feel like I fell. It might seem like an impossible task at the time, but I no longer want to hide behind excuses. I know just how much we can control our mind and make ourselves believe pretty much anything, so why not force myself to believe I can actually do what I want? It won’t be easy, it never is anyway, but quitting is not really any easier to deal with afterward either.