December 27th will always carry a special meaning. One year ago today, I was wedding dress shopping with my mom, and five years ago today, my parents were driving me to JFK for my flight to Southern India.
Five years! How have five years passed already since I left for my solo journey?!
The days and weeks leading up to this day were filled with excitement, emotions, and fears (some that belonged to me but most that did not). I was doing it, I was really doing it. I had put my notice in to my job that had provided me significant personal and professional growth, had allowed me to buy a car, rent my own apartment and pay off my student loans while continuing to invest in continuing my education. To give up that security (in a job that really isn’t that secure) was the hardest part; leaving my friends, coworkers and clients followed as a close second. But, I knew it was something I had to do and wanted to do.
I was pretty okay going through security and waiting at my gate. But when my flight was called to board, I started freaking out. My now husband was on the other end of my FaceTime call, talking me off the cliff. I was already in my seat. I was physically committed to this trip, but my brain had other plans. Every reason to not take this trip was flying full speed through my head. Every self doubt. Every (projected) fear. Tears were streaming down my face as the ‘what ifs’ raced through my mind. The biggest and most obvious of all, what if this trip is the make or break of this newly rekindled, not official relationship? But, as the attendants required phones to be turned off and seat belts to be buckled, I obeyed dutifully.
I thought the point of my trip was to travel the world, spend a lot of time at the beach and obtain a yoga teacher certificate, but what I realized was that this trip - it was helping me shed the layers of myself that I thought I was supposed to be. It was allowing me the chance to see who I was under all of the social conditioning and self imposed rules - to figure out who I was when I released the identity that I had been wearing for the last 20 something years.
Once I arrived in India, the old me, the one that just 36 hours before was very much present, took a back seat. An entirely new version of me showed up - one filled with curiosity and patience, as I walked through a small airport in Kerala where not a single person spoke any English and my phone worked as nothing more than an iPod. I knew someone would be there to pick me up - I didn’t know who and I had no idea how they were supposed to find me, but I looked around curiously and eventually was found by the right gentleman. This version of me was looking at this entire journey as an experiment. I dropped the expectations and took each experience (big and small) as an opportunity. I’m not sure why I needed to be on the other side of the world to do this, but it felt easier being in foreign places to try on different versions of myself, seeing which felt most authentic.
Change is a funny thing. I don’t always experience it with grace. It doesn’t often come easily, especially when I’m not the one instigating it. I’ve found I’m usually earthquaked into it, because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t choose change. Change requires a level of acceptance and surrender, both of which I struggle with because that means releasing control. It also means giving up comforts, even when they’re not in your best interest. In college 2009, I was earthquaked out of a relationship that my entire future was built around. In early 2016, the ending of another relationship earthquaked me into an identity crisis. But without these, I never would have realized that I had attachment issues (codependency and an anxious attachment style). I might not have realized that my actions were a reflection of my self worth, and that I really needed to take a look at that. I wouldn’t have been able to separate my true self from the version of myself that I thought I needed to be due to societal conditioning and ridiculous self imposed beliefs. I wouldn’t have followed that calling to travel the world all by myself because I would have been too scared. My life would have probably stayed on a very cool trajectory, but one that was still dictated by corporate rules and compromises. I needed that cosmic 2x4 to slap me in the face, to shake me to my core and make me question everything.
Growth isn’t always pretty, it’s not usually easy, but it does not require your life crumbling in shambles. There’s a funny misconception out there - that your life has to blow up in your face and that you have to hit rock bottom in order to change and grow. I don’t believe that to be true. That’s an earthquake. That’s the Universe’s (God, Spirit, etc.) way of trying to wake you the fuck up because you haven’t been paying attention to the opportunities. Growing into the next version of yourself is hard. It’s sometimes painful (humans are wired to avoid pain, you know) and there are usually plenty of chances for you to choose to back out. But that’s all part of it. And your growth - or transformation - journey - whatever you want to call it is yours - there’s no right or wrong, and there’s no set amount of time that it has to be completed in. You get to choose - to participate or not. This or that. Growth or stagnation. Comfort or curiosity.
I acknowledge that my awakening journey is uncommon. I’m very aware that I was privileged enough to have those experiences and to take that trip and I chose to make it a reality. There’s still a part of me that feels like I need to explain how I could possibly do something like that, to justify that trip. And, I am learning that while yes, I was privileged enough to have that unforgettable experience, it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter. It was both a product of my manifestations and my responses to my circumstances that all aligned. Opportunities are all around, you just have to be open to recognizing them.