“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” -Andre Gide
One of my best friends wrote that quote on my graduation card last year. At the time, I couldn’t believe she had found such a perfect quote; after all, I was embarking on an adventure. A year later, that quote couldn’t be more true. In adventure, in my travels, I have come to know myself better, to find myself. That sounds a bit like mumbo jumbo, that I need to travel to find myself. While that is not exactly true, I have certainly come to know myself much better, to trust myself, to believe in myself, and to love myself.
One year ago today, I finished packing up my suitcases and was driven to the airport with an entourage of people made up some of my closest friends, my parents and my sisters; I wrote this post as I nervously waited for my plane. A month into my travels time had flown by so fast, I felt like a changed girl. Now, a year after leaving home, I know that I wasn’t a changed girl yet but I am now.
It wasn’t until my friend Ashley came to travel with my in March that I really started to notice that I had indeed changed. That some of the improvements I wanted to make in my life were actually happening.
Last year I left home with a bit of a broken soul. I had lost my auntie the year before and was still heartbroken; I had been in a job that I truly detested; my future career was still a big question mark; I just wasn’t happy anymore and didn’t quite know what to do. I have always been a fairly confident girl but along the way, I had somehow lost that. The person I used to be just didn’t feel like the person I was anymore and I didn’t know how to get back to that girl. I needed a change so I decided to take the leap and do what I had always dreamt of doing: traveling. It was the best decision I could have ever made.
I left home believing that Vancouver would not be the place I wanted to settle down, that it was not the place that I wanted to make my home, where I wanted to live my life. I felt I needed to live away from everything I knew in order to really gain a sense of independence. While I believe this was healthy for me and, at the time, something I felt was necessary, I now have a bit of a different take on it. I left to find wide open spaces (as my blog title suggests: I was on a search to find something, what I am not quite sure, but a search). I felt restricted at home, I felt I couldn’t quite be who I wanted to be, I couldn’t break out of my bubble so I went traveling, I attempt to start a life from scratch. But once I was in Europe I began to slowly but surely realize something: I love my life. Surely, there are aspects I wanted to (and am glad) I changed about my self but I love my friends, I love my family, I love Vancouver.
I have found my wide open spaces. They weren’t really out in Europe, they weren’t a patch of green hills, they weren’t a different city. They were within me. I just didn’t know it. I have given myself back my sense of power, of ownership. I am a dreamer again. I have started to believe again.
Dublin was a different experience than I expected but it is something I will treasure forever. It took a long time but over the course of the eight months I lived in Dublin, I built a life. As I packed up my room in May, before embarking on my last leg of travel, I could not believe in how many ways my life has become connected to Dublin. All of my souvenirs. All of my clothes. All of my memories of the past eight months were being packed away into my suitcases. In Dublin, I learned a lot. I learned what it was like to live in a country that was experiencing one of the worst financial times it has ever seen. I learned what it was like to struggle to find work. I learned what it was like to pay rent, to survive on 20 euros a week because your bank account didn’t have any more in it. I learned that I am stronger than I thought, that it is okay to be lonely, and that there is always a silver lining.
In my year abroad, I blogged 234 times, traveled for about 21 weeks, I took 16 flights, traveled for countess less hours on buses and trains, visited 17 countries and had more amazing experiences than I can even attempt to sum up. I am eternally grateful for all the wonderful people I met, for all the friends I have made, for the adventures I have had. My year was not perfect, I made some mistakes but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I am going to continue to blog as I go home, though the posts will become a little less frequent until I re-vamp my blog a bit later this Summer. To those of you who have been reading my blog, thank you, truly. My blog has been a create source for me to express and reflect while I have been away. I have many adventures coming up so stay tuned, I am not going anywhere!
Tomorrow, my family heads home to Vancouver and I travel back to Dublin for one last hurrah before flying home on July 20th. I am filled with different emotions about going home and I will be sure to post all about that over the next few days.