I remember sitting in a hostel in Portugal on the last night of my 18-month round-the-world trip. As I was scrolling through FB and seeing all the happy faces of the people I knew, I began to feel emotional.
The last few months of my traveling had been exhausting, lonely, and at times, scary. I had gotten extremely lost on my scooter in Vietnam (I did not have a working phone), I had crashed a motorcycle in Turkey (got scraped up pretty bad), and constantly felt uneasy on my travels through rural Morocco.
Along the way, I had met all types of awesome and interesting people, but we always had to part ways. I got really good at approaching new people, and we would often go out and do fun things or talk about our travels.
However, on my last night of the trip in the beautiful city of Lisbon, I could not wait to leave! Why? I didn’t know. Even though I had made this miraculous dream happen, I mostly felt flat and confused. It was at this point that I began to wonder, “What’s the point?”
Fast forward a few months and I’m back again in my now-home of Salt Lake City, living with a couple of friends and joining in on a Men’s group call that I had been away from for a while.
For the first time, I got to share the lows of the trip and not just the highs that I had been documenting in my FB travel journal. It felt so relieving and inspiring to finally get real about the struggle! It was so refreshing to open up about my authentic feelings and thoughts, in the moment! It was like a part of me, that I didn’t know was there, was finally free to come out into the world.
So, what’s the point?
The point is that without feeling, exploring, and sharing the negative, the darkness, the struggle, we are not able to fully feel the positive, the light, and the ease. We short circuit if we begin to hold in our authentic experience and we feel stuck. This is where we often get confused.
Joy. I like joy. Uh oh. I’m not feeling joy anymore. I must try harder to feel joy. I can’t feel joy. Something’s wrong. I’m confused.
Long periods of time go by as we desperately try to cultivate brief moments of joy and happiness through whatever means necessary. We begin to lose touch with ourselves and the pain that we are avoiding, grows.
We are usually very unaware that the way back to authentic joy and happiness is to experience our authentic sadness, anger, hopelessness, etc. With practice, we begin to fear these feelings less, and we begin to live more in the flow of life. We build this underlying space of “okayness”, even when life seems very much, not okay.
If there’s one thing that this trip and the years that have followed have taught me, it’s that I have to be honest about my real experience if I want feel connected to the world around me. Pretending doesn’t work. Struggling is okay.