In honor of “Throwback Thursday” and the fact that I have been thinking about, writing about and rehashing my travel fever, I have decided to share an old journal entry. This was written circa January 2003. I was twenty-two years old, just out of a relationship and trying desperately to answer the question “Who the hell am I?”.
I penned this after a late night talk at a crappy diner with an amazing friend. (I used to have the quirky habit of writing the date, the initials of the person who inspired me and other little details. Looking back now, I’m so glad I did).
The words below caught me right in the feels. I wrote this when I was TWENTY-TWO. I promised myself I was going to break out of the mode I was in, the place I was accustomed to living, the way I was living…I’m THIRTY-FOUR and I have just earnestly and honestly begun that process.
I want to walk a road where there are things I could see that I would want to hang on my wall. Dry, boring, stale – I could look at this town and my situation all like that, but if I could find the extraordinary in the ordinary again, maybe I could be satiated for a while…until the time comes that I can pack my bags and go.
Why not? What’s stopping me? Nothing but me. All my fears, my doubts, my distractions. I have this beast of a person inside me – hiding behind a plaster of misconceptions – all of them only about me, created only by me.
Why can’t I travel? Why haven’t I read all the books I want to read? Why haven’t I finished what I start? Because I am holding me back. Screw the rules that have governed me thus far – I want this. I want to set that part of me free. I want to CHANGE.
I am a writer. I am a traveler. I am a lover worthy of love. I can inspire.
I will live the life I dream and if I get lonely and need a hand to hold – I’ll remember the volumes of my heart that these journals contain. My silent confidant, my hero made of pulp and ink. I’ll remember that my biggest fear is loneliness and because I have these pages and this pen – I’ll never be lonely.
I’ll remember that compassion lives in strange places. I’ll never fear rejection. I will put my foot in my mouth. I will love the hardest part of me to love. My deepest hidden self. That burning in my cheeks that presses against my heart and makes me pour my contents out. The part of me that – at this moment – is pushing this pen.
I will become the person I want to be. I’m not going to be so afraid of loneliness anymore.
The saddest thing in the world was reading the words of my eager, naive, urgent younger self and realizing that I had let her down. I did give in to loneliness. I was weak and I thought I needed someone to love me before I could be whole, defined, completely grown and fulfilled. That is never true.
*This is where this post goes from reflective contemplation to full-on cautionary tale preaching!*
Listen up, thirty-four year old self and ANYONE of ANY age that has happened upon this post while looking for cute cat anecdotes….
DO THE THING.
DO THE THING THAT YOU WANT TO DO.
DO IT NOW.
Time will pass. It will march on and on, regardless of your agenda or what you think must happen for you and to you before you can really begin the steps to obtain your dream.
I’m not devastated over the years I spent going in a different direction that my heart was aching to go. I’m overjoyed for the lessons I learned and the gifts that have been born of my choices, but if I could tell my twenty-two year old self anything and know the advice would stick, it would be this:
Spend time thinking about what you really want. (Do you want to be married? Do you want kids? Do you really want to like sweet potatoes?) Your life will not be fulfilling until you are 100% honest with yourself about what you like and want from your time. Even if you’re not completely sure what it is that you want, just make sure that your choices aren’t being led by what you think someone else wants for you – that is NO WAY to live.
Stop writing all this wonderful, beautiful, inspirational garbage and then doing NOTHING ABOUT IT. I mean this in two ways: First, GO TRAVEL. WRITE. READ. LOVE. Do the things you say you’re going to do and stop being distracted by what you think you need now, because twelve years from now none of that will matter! Second, you should write, then show people your writing and see what you can do with it. You have a talent for a reason and it shouldn’t be sitting on a shelf in your room for no one to see. GET OUT THERE. NOW.
Don’t obsess over ‘romantic relationships’. That stuff will be there when you’re ready – really ready. When you know yourself…when you’ve really dug in and dealt with YOU. When you’ve had some life happen, those relationships are all the sweeter. You will have more to give and more room to receive if you understand yourself.
See the world – even if you have to utilize friend’s crusty couches, hostels, buses, tents and gas station burritos (ok, maybe don’t take it that far – I’ve heard dysentery is a horrible way to go). Experience something outside of what you think you know and do NOT wait on anyone to do it for you or with you for that matter. Trust me, you are a badass travel companion all on your own.
Life is a beautiful and curious thing…one minute you’re twenty-two and the world seems infinite and finite, all at once. Then you wake up…a decade-plus has cruised by. You find yourself still longing for the same things and you find yourself still without them.
Few people have the luxury of understanding, embracing and utilizing hindsight. I know, today – December 4, 2014 – that I will not be writing this same letter to myself at forty-six, because I can no longer imagine my life without the things my twenty-two year old self penned with such vehemence.
Do not look back – on sixteen, twenty-two, thirty-four, forty-six or seventy-six – and wish you would have not let yourself down.
GO see the things. DO all the wondrous impossibles. BE the beast of a person you know you are.