I always thought that I lived my life with the philosophy of love — you know the “ love all and do no harm” kind of matra? And well, I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but I now know that I was applying that love to everyone and everything, but myself. Now, I don’t want to make this a sob-story about how I gave love and lost it, and never really felt it at home, no this isn’t about that..at least not this time. This is about how for the first time in four years, I felt love again and it wasn’t because of a person..at least not completely.
A few weeks ago I embarked on a trip, my first-ever solo adventure. I spent 8 night and 9 days across the globe in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. I was more than 7,432km away from the security of my bedroom, left to fend for myself, discover on my own and test my own strength. Travelling alone for anyone, even if they don’t have a mental illness, is nerve-wracking enough. Travelling alone to a foreign country? Still stressful for a mentally stable person. Travelling alone with severe anxiety? Well, that’s like having an extreme fear of heights and then waking up one and deciding to jump out of an airplane.. And there were moments on the trip when I felt like I was falling out of a plane and my parachute wasn’t opening. However, I landed. I survived. I came back stronger in many ways, but I also came back with an aching heart and not a lot of resources to mend it.
You see, I fell in love on this trip with someone. I fell in love with a different version of me, and now that I’m back home, and not that person, everything feels so…unsatisfying. It’s a weird thought to have, even weirder to type out because, how do you fall in love with a different version of yourself? Couldn’t you just apply those characteristics you had when you were away to your “real life” situations? I, of course, have considered that…over and over again. Sleepless nights of just trying to think of ways to bring that happy and confident version of me back home, but it’s almost like she was left in Stockholm.
One of the main reasons I can’t bring that version of me here, to Vancouver, is because so many of the causal factors of this “new me” are also left in Europe. I can’t distance myself from a toxic environment when I have to live in it. I can’t have the same sort of liberation I had in Europe, when I don’t have the permanent financial means to say “you know what? I don’t have to listen to you” and move on to my own way. The positive support group that gave me the confidence to just simply exist, that eradicated a lot of the doubt I had for myself, they too are in Europe.
It’s crazy how much being around supportive people who just simply believe in you, while being able to try new things without judgement, impacts your self-confidence. It’s even more crazy how much your self-confidence impacts your happiness. I never realized how much a toxic environment can hold back your life until I had a week away from it. Now that I’m re-immersed in it, my depression hurts more than it ever has, because I finally felt the real passion for life, and my god… I want it back so bad.
I mentioned previously that I try do everything with love; so when I left for Europe I was definitely ready to fall in love with new experiences.. I mean, that was the purpose of the trip, but I wasn’t exactly ready for my heart to break off into pieces and be left with those experiences. The rush of happiness and the feeling of love is a a drug, man. I’ve got the sweats and the shakes from the withdrawal of it, every day I’m looking at flights back to stockholm, looking at odd jobs and doing the math to see when I can get on the next flight back. I want to be far away from here. I want to be in my bubble of happiness again. This city, the people here, they drain me, and hold me back.
All my life I’ve felt so incompetent, I still feel like I can’t do much right – – hence the blog hiatus that I keep blaming on school, yes I’m busy with school, but if I really wanted I could do a few blog posts a month, I just had no motivation to write because I hate my writing. I fell in a hole of being embarrassed of my writing, I started comparing it to my friends’ work and it made me feel like whatever I published sounded like a child wrote it. So I just stopped (however that’s a story for another time). Anyways, on this trip, I learned that I’m not as “two brain cells” (as I call it) as I’ve been led to believe. I took care of myself, I took myself places, I did so many things that scared me, and it was because I felt supported and happy; that’s literally it took for me able to trust myself enough that I can do things without “failing”.
So lesson one of this trip was definitely finding my own backbone and learning that I can actually take care of myself without someone breathing down my neck and watching me like a hawk. Lesson two would be that I learned that, despite my severe depression, I don’t actually want to kill myself and I want to live my life? And the reason why I say that with a question mark is that such a shocking statement for me.. And honestly, a hard concept to grasp. I don’t think I would have even had this realization if it wasn’t for someone I met on the last few days of my trip.
I met someone who really inspired me. In just a short 48 hours of time spent together, their fearless personality really impacted me in a lot of different ways. He is the exact opposite of me: bold, social, easy-going, a problem-solver and someone who genuinely lives their life with a lot of passion and love. Their love of life was more than inspiring, it was infectious, I wanted to do so much more, be so much more, it actually overwhelmed me. It made me realize how much my anxiety is holding me back, every time he asked me why I didn’t do the thing I really wanted to do, I didn’t have an answer other than the fear of my own brain. I realized how scared I was to fall out of line of the pressure of my family ,and how scared I was to just f*ck up.
To whom I’m speaking of, If you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for being patient with my anxiety, thank you for making me laugh and do adventurous things, thank you for being such a gentleman, thank you for showing me around town even when you were obviously exhausted, but most importantly thank you for teaching me how to love life, I sincerely hope our paths cross again.
Now I feel more confident to try again, try everything and anything, as long as I just do.. As long as I just LIVE. SO here I am writing to all of you again, this feels so good. Yes, my heart hurts because I’m yearning to be that person I was in Stockholm, and I just want to be in Stockholm again, but for now, I just want to be the best goddamn person I can be and not be scared to f*ck up.I’m going to carry that freedom I felt in Europe in my heart, and think back to it whenever I feel like the cynicism of current-state of reality is too much.
As for the details of just travelling alone.. WELL, I can’t even begin to justifiably explain the beauty in walking an old city all alone with your favourite music in your ears. The freedom you feel sitting in a coffee shop, listening to everyone around you speak a different language, not worrying about the time. It almost felt like the world belong to me..as cheesy as that sounds. I didn’t have to talk to anyone if I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to do anything if I didn’t want to. I had never experienced that before. I am always under the schedule of my school, my job (when I had one) or my family. My time always belongs to someone and for a week, I didn’t have to listen to ANYONE.
Before leaving on my trip, I was so worried I was going to “Fail”. Worried I was going to “f*ck up”, not even realizing that there’s no way to fail or f*ck up a vacation?! That’s how bad I don’t believe in myself, to the point I was thinking I could do a vacation incorrectly! I remember when I was on my flight to Helsinki from Stockholm, watching Stockholm fly past me.. It hit me that I was taking myself to my third country that week (well, fourth if you count my pitstop in the Netherlands) and I was doing just fine. I didn’t need anyone’s help, I was able to gather my stuff, check out in and out of my hotels, transit around foreign cities/countries, not miss flights, etc.. ALL ON MY OWN.. without having (too many) panic attack(s).
You truly feel unstoppable when you’re travelling on your own, it’s almost dangerous. The amount of times I got tempted to skip my return flight, and instead, buy a flight to another European country surpassed the amount of fingers I have on my hand. If you’re reading this, and you’re like me, you struggle with anxiety and low-self-confidence, it’s probably because you’re also stuck in a toxic environment… you NEED OUT. You need to jump out of that figurative airplane, because you are not as incompetent as your mental illness is making you believe. You need distance between you and the world that is holding you back, you’ll thrive the second you’re floating in the freeair. I promise you.
Before I end this post, I also want to thank my other friends on this trip: Jonas, Loki , Bahar and everyone I met at the Ghost show !! You all made my heart so full in one way or another. You all dedicated time out of your lives to spend time with me, show me around, and you’re all part of the reason why this trip was so special to me. I genuinely get tears in my eyes when I think about how much I miss all of you. Those eight days were all genuinely the best time of my life, and one blog post can’t even summarize everything I want to say, but this is a start.
I will no longer be scared to post on my own blog, writing to all of you is my saving grace and I will continue to do so. It feels so good to be back.
Until next time Interwebs
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