Life has a way of going by faster than we think. Our twenties can seem to last forever and then they’re gone, and we’re thirty. I spent the last three years of my life at a college, that I never felt like I belonged at. I wanted out so bad, but I wasn’t willing to quit something I had started. I was determined to finish. And I did, but it was the single most challenging thing I have ever faced. I’m not sure I’ve changed, but I’m different than when I started.
“Man, I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.” -One Headlight, The Wallflowers
Finishing the journey taught me three valuable lessons:
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Doing things that make you feel uncomfortable will teach you the greatest lessons in life. And on the other side of it you’ll be thankful you didn’t give up.
- Find yourself in the ruins. When your chips are down, and everything seems to be going wrong, it’s challenging and painful, there you will find yourself. Your rise or destruction is in your hands, and your hands alone.
- Break on through to the other side. Perseverance could be the single greatest human trait. Without it, nations would not be built and wars never won. We are capable of overcoming far more than we think is possible.
Loved and lost
I thought I had found love for life. I met her in a city of 35 million. It seemed like fate. We shared so much in common, and connected so well. It seemed perfect. We experienced challenges as any couple does throughout our time together, but it seemed like a good thing to continue and fight for. And we did just that. But in the end it felt like the tsunami of challenges in our relationship and life would not end. Now we are in the process of untangling ourselves from each other, and that’s not an easy take. It’s really hard. Losing a best friend is painful. But we know it’s for the best. And when that’s the care you must make that effort. That’s just how life goes sometimes. Some you win, and some you lose. We will roam alone with hopes for a better future. In time it will get better.
A question of progress
These past few months I’ve felt a great need to take close look at my life, and reflect on where I’m at. I question whether I’ve moved forward or backwards. Have I made progress? What is progress? Is it more money in my bank account? More friends or Facebook friends? Is it moving from renting to owning? Is it getting married? I really can’t relate with any of those things. People who focus on those things for happiness in their lives don’t seem to find it. They’re status symbols. Things you can’t take them with you. Travelling solo has given me plenty of time to ponder this very question.
Through my reflections I’ve realized progress can be measured by two things. First, our experiences. Your experiences don’t necessarily need to be extraordinary. You don’t need to travel the world. You just need to do more than your 9 to 5 and remain stuck to the comfort of your neighbourhood. And second, but just as important is your impact on others and the world around you. Within experiencing the world around you, always challenging yourself, in that space, you will get plenty of opportunities. Opportunities to impact others and the world around you. And hopefully it’s positive and not entirely self seeking. It’s about being there for others, empathizing, lending a hand, realizing your footprint, and making an effort to make a positive difference in people’s lives and the world around you.
Travelling has given me plenty of time to reflect and come to conclusions. But you don’t need to travel to reflect. I think it just takes being intentional about it, and finding space for your mind to unwind and think. There you will find the answers your soul has been searching for. There you can find yourself.