When I left on a year of travel I was under no illusion that my life would magically change. The idea that you “find yourself” while travelling seemed just too cliche. I left on a journey of adventure, not soul-searching, but the cosmic joke was on me. In just 6 months I think I’ve learned more about myself than I’ve learned in the past 30 years. And we’re only half-way through our adventure.
I’m not going to pour my soul out about everything I’ve learned, some of that stuff is just for me. But here are 5 reflections I’ve learned and how you can figure out your own path of self-discovery.
What I want to be when I grow up
Isn’t this life’s hardest question? I feel like I’m constantly changing my mind in this regard. I have way too many passions and things that get me excited.
When I started my job as a Dietitian in long-term care I loved it but over time I became a little more jaded and as my values shifted more towards Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size, I struggled with some of the work that didn’t align. I knew I wanted a change but I didn’t know where to go.
Having time away from my job I’ve come to realize exactly the area that I want to work. It has to be in Intuitive Eating and advocating for fat acceptance. I’m so passionate about the topic. Just ask Tom who gets an earful constantly.
That I’m capable of being an entrepreneur
I have always adamantly stated that I wanted to be an employee not an employer. I have been content working a 9 to 5 and leaving my work at the door when I leave. But I’ve realized that if I want to work in the field I’m passionate about, I’m likely going to have to start my own business. That realization comes with paralyzing fear and self-doubt.
I’m not the most organized person. I’m not the most focused person at times. And I’m not the most business minded person. But these are excuses that can be overcome if I let go of the fear. I can learn about business. I can accept help. I am more focused when I am working on something I believe in or am excited about. And well, organization skills may never come easily to me but my version of organized chaos has always worked for me in the past.
I love Canada and don’t want to live abroad
When I left on this year-long adventure it was in my mind that it might be longer than a year. Tom and I were pretty open to the idea of extending our trip longer or looking for opportunities to live/work abroad. However, after being away I realize how much I value my home life.
First of all, Canada is beautiful. I’ve travelled a lot of places but truly the Rocky Mountains are probably still the most breathtaking place. Being away you appreciate your family, friends, and community so much more. I’m happy there is an end point to this journey. I’m certain Tom and I will always continue to travel but we also look forward to building a life for ourselves in Calgary.
I’m becoming a soft-core hippy
I feel like this is kind of inevitable with travel. I won’t be coming home with dreadlocks but I definitely have some changed attitudes.
Yoga and meditation are now going to be core elements in my life. I believe so much in their principles and being present in your daily life.
The welfare of people and animals is much more in the forefront of my mind. When you’re faced with seeing animal cruelty first hand or children working at age 6, you have to reevaluate your priorities. I will certainly be making changes in my lifestyle that reflect these values.
Material things mean less to me. When you live with your entire life on your back, you realize just how little we actually need and how senselessly we spend our money.
Marriage is hard work
Tom and I have been together for almost 14 years now. We’ve had such an amazing relationship and in a lot of ways, it’s been easy. But being together 24/7 challenges your relationship. I think I will write an entire post on this topic. We are still just as much in love with each other but I better understand now when people say marriage is hard work.
Your Path to Self-Discovery
Travel has been amazing for self-discovery but I realize not everyone has the luxury of jetting off for a year. But it’s not the travel that makes these reflections easier. It’s the time. We can all learn a lot about ourselves if we just take the time to listen. A few things that I think help are:
- Meditation. Seriously give it a try, you will be amazed with what you learn
- Take time to think. Often during meditation I find my mind just racing and I don’t want to stop it because I’m coming up with such good ideas. This happens because when else do we give ourselves time to just sit there without distraction? So take time to think. 5 or 10 minutes a day, close your eyes, get rid of distractions and allow your brain to think.
- Have deeper conversations. When you’re with someone 24/7 you run out of things to talk about. That has meant Tom and I have to go a lot deeper in our conversations. I’ve learned so, so much about myself and Tom through these conversations. So ask your significant other, family, or friends tough questions. Dig deeper and learn more.
- Listen to podcasts – now I don’t mean fluff podcasts like Off the Vine (guilty pleasure of mine) but podcasts that make you think. Podcasts that are in fields you are interested in or are about self-discovery. It’s a great way to get you thinking. You can listen to podcasts during your commute to work or while you prepare dinner or while you shuttle the kids to soccer. It requires no additional time.
- Read books – put down the phone, get off Netflix and read a book. Expand your mind and you will be rewarded.
- Journal – truthfully this isn’t a practice that I’ve yet adopted. I think about trying it often but I certainly know a lot of people who swear by the benefits.