Wherever You Go, There You Are
It’s like the people who believe they’ll
be happy if they go and live somewhere
else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way.
Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
– Neil Gaiman –
What does it mean to be at peace with yourself? I think maybe part of it is being able to be alone with yourself and be comfortable with it. Maybe it's being able to interact with people of all sorts and know how to maintain your sense of self in a world that's constantly trying to change us. In the past, I've had a lot of trouble being alone with myself. A few hours of solitude was all I needed to spiral back into the vortex of self-pity that depression and anxiety creates. I spent years fighting tirelessly to figure out how to like myself and now I'm here on the other side and I can say with confidence that I unconditionally love myself.
So, about a month ago, I decided to take a road trip to Olympic National Park. Alone. Mind you, I'd never been there before. I didn't really know what I'd do there or if I would even enjoy myself. I took the leap nonetheless, and it was perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences of my life (at least, so far). What should have been a 4 1/2 hour drive between Portland and Port Angeles ended up being a 9 hour drive, simply because I opted to take the long way. I drove up the coast, learned that you can actually drive your car onto the beaches in Washington, realized that Oregon's beaches are nicer, listened to a lot of music, and smiled a lot. Aimless adventures, I think, are my calling in life. I drive and I drive and then I see a sign and I follow it because you never know what you'll find if you're constantly seeking a set destination.
This trip forced me to face a lot of my fears and leave the safety and security of my comfort zone. I grappled with my fear of heights while climbing not one, but two mountains. I hiked 8 miles in a single day and later found a blister the size of a nickel on my right foot. I spent three days alone in the woods and that, I think, was the thing that terrified me the most. Two years ago, I wouldn't have even considered doing something like this simply because I wouldn't have been able to handle that level of solitude without at least one emotional breakdown. But these days, I find that I'm a bit intimidated by how comfortable I am with being alone. My, how time changes us.
People often question my desire to do things on my own. I suppose that since we humans are social creatures, it makes sense to want to experience things with other people. But sometimes, we must have the courage to be alone with ourselves. This is how we cultivate self love. This is how we grow. And sometimes I think we tend to wait around for people to show up and want to experience things with us. However, when you're as busy as I am, that's a near impossible feat. I'm not going to be young and rootless forever. A time will come when I'm not going to be able to disappear into the woods for three days on a whim. For this reason, I don't wait. I do the things I want to do and I do them on my own because otherwise, I might not be able to ever experience them. And there's nothing in the world that I fear more than an unlived life.