Lately I've recieved a lot of emails, messages and comments from people all over complimenting me on my positivity, success and love for adventure and travel. Almost everyone I know and meet tells me it's inspiring and they want to "be like me," or have the courage to venture away from the familiar with a smile on. I must say that it's genuinely the most humbling feeling in the world. And for the most part, my smile and positivity are really real.
But what I wanted to clear up is that it doesn't always come naturally for me. As I've grown, it's been a constant mind battle for me to be the "happy go lucky" chick. I wasn't ever someone who found letting go or change easy. I found my happy place in comfort and I've always been someone to cling on to stability for dear life. And while in the grand scheme of things, my life and the opportunities presented to me have been nothing short of amazing, there are indeed many moments and days that I have felt like giving up completely.
When I really sit to think about it, it's always been on my own account to feel anything but happy. And maybe I'm damaged, who knows. But there have been moments I've felt lower than low. Maybe some people will read this and call me spoiled or dramatic. That's ok. I don't write this to get pity, I write this so that others can relate. You can "have it all" without always feeling like or realizing you "have it all." And that's ok too.
Side note: I'm not sure there's a moment where anyone ever feels like they "always" have it all. Even the most famous or enlightened people on earth. They just make the best of what they do have, yeah? This is why, for me, I feel the need everyday to try my best to give nothing but love. To everyone. (Not always the case - key word here is "try.") But for the most part, I know there are dark days for all of us, and if you can make someone's day brighter, why wouldn't you?
Back to the story - It took years before I realized that hating myself, fighting myself, and depending on outside sources (especially toxic ones) for happiness would get me no where but deeper down into the negative spiral. It took years and years of figuring out how to naturally cope with the moments of breathlessness from intense anxiety. And I'm still not 100% there. Not even close, people. That's what I want to explain to you all, especially everyone who's commented, emailed, messaged, etc..
We are actually the same. I'm not higher or lower than you. I don't "have it all together." Any more than you do!!
With that said, there are a few things that have been game changers for me - especially lately. That have really had an impact on the way I view life. Thinking about it, I can sit here and write for days about all the things I've learned along the way that have helped. I can also express the struggles I've endured, and the bad experiences that may have allowed me to think this way. But really in this post, I want to focus on two things in particular.
1. Remember Gratitude. Every second of everyday.
For the last few months I kept a gratitude journal. Every morning when I woke up, I would write one full page of things I was grateful for. Sometimes I was in a rush, but I forced myself everyday to do it. Even if it felt like it was doing nothing, it still started my morning off acknowledging all that was great in my life.
I left that journal at home when I began traveling. And due to teaching and life I didn't make the time to continue writing gratitude lists in the mornings. And what do you know? Anxiety has crept up on me on this trip. Maybe due to lack of sleep, so much traveling, bad experiences, too much coffee 😂 (haha) who knows, but what I do know well is that familiar feeling of breathlessness. The feeling of "I want to be home, comfortable in the place I know with the people who speak the language I speak." No disrespect to anyone here. But those are only a few of the thoughts when you're going into panic mode in your head.
As I missed some flights and wound up on a train to Milan, I decided to write a gratitude list. I started listing everything I was thankful for. The words at first weren't coming. Crazy enough. But as I looked around and began to think, they came alright. I mean - the obvious. Friends, family, love, money, food, a home, a bed, the choice of who I want to love, where I want to be - being free. And then the other obvious things we don't even think of. I remember looking around the train and seeing people begging for money. I remember seeing people without limbs in the airport. People who were blind, sick or homeless in the station.
Immediately, I had so much to be thankful for, my hand hurt with the rapid fire. I wrote the entire time until the train arrived to the station. I had a list of over 50 things I was grateful for within minutes. And with this, I noticed my breath calmed. My mood increased. My panic subsided. I noticed the trivial things that I was allowing to upset me vanished - all it took was bringing gratitude and love to light.
See, I've been fortunate enough to have grown up with the most loving family, genuine friends and incredible community. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to travel around the world these last four years. Hopping from island to island and sea to sea. It's been such an experience. I really didn't think I could ever meet people who loved me like my friends and family at home, but it turns out that I have. I've met people who love me just as much and who I love just as much. From Hawaii to Indonesia to the states to South America to Europe and many many more people from many many more countries and places.
It's an insanely warm feeling to have family all over the world. Traveling shouldn't scare you. Isn't there a quote? Something like, "Comfort is an easy paved road, but no flowers grow there." I gave up a lot to travel. A lot of "things." And giving up this attachment has made me stronger than ever.
Allow yourself to release attachment. Love your friends, your home, your family as they are without using them as your only source of happiness. (I've written more about this elsewhere)
Someone special recently told me "you gotta give it away to keep it." And it's been a quote I constantly go back to now. Give love, give thanks, give, give, give so that you can keep these things alive in yourself.
Be grateful and appreciative for what you have while venturing out to get what you want. And make lists. Write it out. May sound weird or silly, but I promise it helps.
2. Be YOU, boldly.
What does this mean? People used to say this to me and I didn't really understand. "Be you!" I'd sit and think, what an amazing feeling to know who "you" are. Because I have no idea who I am. And that would start the self - hate. I would ask myself "Are you even a person how do you not know who you are - get it together..blah blah blah."
Side note: If I could go back to 15 year old me, I would say 5 words to her - I love you beautiful girl!!! Because I do. I think it's so important to love who you are while you work towards who you want to be. You cannot become the person you want by hating yourself the whole way. Accept yourself and then move forward. Shoutout to all the teenagers reading this. You're all beautiful inside and out. Those years are some of the hardest in life and you're doing just fine. I love you all. Especially my little sister who's the funniest, strongest, most beautiful girl I know. (Okay maybe I'm a little biased) Miss that chick though!
Anyways, for me, I realized some time ago that I didn't know who I was because I was busy being who (I thought) others wanted me to be. In fear that if I did / said / acted the way I wanted, in with what made me happy, I'd lose all that love from all those people. That I'd be judged or friendless. And the love from them was what I thought kept me happy, kept me going. But in reality, I think I struggled for so long because I wasn't listening to myself, which caused me to hate myself. To be at war always. Sure the love was amazing but how can you let any true love in or out when you cannot even love yourself first?
So my advice to you all? And to myself everyday?
Make a conscious effort to love the person you are. Everyday. Do all things with love. And most importantly, keep yourself wild. Don't ever let yourself live a mediocre life due to fear (I've also written about this. Check back in posts for more.) Do the things - big or little - that make YOU completely happy. That make your soul happy. Is it yoga? Do yoga. Is it dancing? Keep dancing to the music. Sing. Play. Surf. Run. Write. Read. Let the inner child out more than once a day. Smile. Laugh at yourself. Be silly. Move and live however you want without allowing yourself to even think for a second about what others will say or think. No judgement.
Because, in the end, you are enough all by yourself. And with that, you are never ever alone. Physically all the people may leave, they may judge, or they may talk. But you are loved, always. Regardless of if you have 10000 people standing by your side or none at all. Life is cyclical. There probably will be moments that feel like it's only you. Embrace them. And be you, boldly. This allows the right people to fall into place and the wrong ones to fade. Love yourself enough to surround yourself with people, places and things that lift you higher. Love yourself enough to lift yourself high. Love yourself enough to be totally and completely YOU.
Be sure to never hold back, change or try and be someone you are not to impress someone else. The mask always comes off. And guess what? When it does, you're back at square one. Trust me on that one. This life is short and sometimes our need for approval and acceptance are what will drive us to insanity - to that spiral down. Don't waste another minute. This is a beautiful opportunity we all have - to live, and to be free. A luxury many don't see. It's a privilege. Accept yourself and do not let the thoughts or opinions of others ever disrupt your inner peace.
One of my favorites;
So I leave you all with those two thoughts that help me on a daily basis. If you want to read similar posts, I have a bunch on here or via Instagram. (I tend to write write write when I'm between travels) Feel free to check them out!