Alaska or Having a Second Childhood
Before I went on my trip I had no idea what kind of journey I was about to take. The months were passing and I started to understand what actually happened. Now that I am looking back on every country I visited, every experience I made, every adventure I took, every person I met, literally every single moment makes sense. There it was. Out of the blue. Pure awareness.
On my first stop in Alaska, I was staying as a ‘wwoofer’ (worldwide opportunities on organic farms) with a married couple my parents’ age with their eleven-year-old adopted daughter. From the very beginning, they took me in like I have always been part of their little family. When I arrived there, I did not know how long I was actually going to stay with them. I wanted to see first if I liked the place and if we got along. At the end, we had such a wonderful time together that I spent almost three months there. As it turned out, they appeared to me as the parents I always wished for, but never had. Both of them had traveled the world on their own and later on together. They were very open-minded and highly educated. I could talk to them as if we had known each other for ages. They trusted me and I trusted them. We had a relationship where we could openly tall about our feeling, hopes and fears. I felt connected to them on a very deep level. Not only did they appreciate what I have done so far in my life, they were also supporting me in my future plans. I enjoyed every single second of the time I spent in this truly loving parental home. No more fights, no more tears, no more hate. For the first time in my life, I was part of a loving family with carrying parents that treated their child, me, their children, us with respect and an open heart.
During the couple of weeks I was living with them, I experienced the childhood I never had. How my host father used to say to me ‘Go and play!!’. It was all about trying new things and having fun. Apart from taking care of the greenhouse and the garden, I was living close to nature like I had never before. My hosts gave me my own yurt where I was sleeping in. Sometimes in the morning, moose were standing in front of it eating fireweed. Furthermore, I had my own car to drive around and explore Alaska’s stunning scenery. I was free to do and to go wherever I wanted, because my host parents let me and actually wanted me to do so. At the same time, they were like teachers to me. In those couple of weeks, I did not only learn much about natural history, but also how to drive a four-wheeler, how to plant and harvest all different kind of plants and vegetables. Every other weekend they took me on a sailing, camping or kayak trip. As you can see, I was very lucky to meet such generous and wonderful people. While I was there, I could already feel how I was letting go of my past, my unfortunate childhood, and how I was replacing my old sad memories with new pleasant ones.
The Joy of Freedom or Finally Fulfilling my Dream
After missing out on a lovely, protected childhood, troubling and challenging years of being a teenager and young adult followed. My parents were already busy taking care of their own problems, which left me alone doing whatever I wanted to do. No parenting, no limits, therewith a teenager out of control, therefore total chaos. I did not know how to handle the whole divorcing-, moving to a new place-, losing all money-, being poor-situation at all. Nobody cared about my lostness, loneliness, sadness. Step by step, I got deeper and deeper into a very dark, very serious mental place. Long story short, my teenager years were like a very long emotional rollercoaster ride. There was no space, no time, no energy, no money for nice things in life. I never went on vacation with my parents; I never tried an exciting hobby. Instead, I gave up all the hobbies I had until this point, started smoking, drinking and partying, doing some very stupid things. At the same time, I had to become an adult very quick, well, way too early, and learn how to take care of myself, because there was not anyone else to take care of me. Even though I have a big family, I always felt like I was on my own. Unfortunately, I could not enjoy the time of being a teenager where you are still dreaming about life and what you want to achieve when you grow up. I just had to do something, anything. No matter what.
So I did. I finished high school; went to university; studied a lot; got very good grades; worked hard. I turned my life around from a troubled teenager to a reasonable grown-up. I had a relationship with a wonderful person. I screwed it up. I was sad; I was lost; I was lonely. But there was not any time not to function. Everything had to work out. Somehow. I put the sadness aside and figured out a rhythm where I was functioning perfectly during the week and lost control entirely on the weekend. For years, I felt like I was trapped in a life that I do not want to live. This was not me. This was not what I wanted. This was just the normal life people expect you to live. Deep inside of me, I always had the wish to do what I want for once, to go away, to be free. The urge to do so became bigger and bigger every day. I could not suppress it any longer. There was a dream deep inside of me that waited to be realized. All I wanted was to be free and travel around and do all the things I missed out in my life in Germany. I just could not take it any longer. For once in my life, I wanted to be unreasonable and leave everything behind. So I did.
I quit my life. I packed my things and went abroad. I left my old life behind. When I did, I just finished university. Normally, people would start their life, their career, maybe even a family at that point. I could not. I had to escape. I knew there was more in life than going the casual education-career-family-path. It was not meant for me anyway.
Finally, I was free. I saved up money to travel around. No internship abroad, no studying abroad, no volunteering service abroad. For once, I was just traveling. For once, I could decide every day what to do and where to go. TOTAL FREEDOM. Exactly what I wanted. For once, I listened to my gut feeling and fulfilled my dream. I left the German society. I escaped. For the very first time in my life, I did what I wanted to do. It felt so damn good to fulfill my biggest dream! A mix of happiness, pride, lightness, freedom accompanied me whilst traveling. It was the best high I ever had! 😉
A Journey to Myself or How I fell in Love with Life
Traveling on your own means getting to know your truest self. I have always loved traveling because it always brought out the best in me. When I am exploring the world, its different cultures and stunning nature, I act differently. While I feel like another person, a stranger to myself in Germany, I am my truest self while traveling. For example, I am not longer scared of trying new things. Who would learn to drive a scooter, not an automatic, but a manual one, in the middle of the night on some island in the Philippines? I did. Another new, pleasant feeling of freedom. Even though the traffic might be highly dangerous in Southeast Asia, it was a lot of fun to explore the countries on this little vehicle. I am less reasonable, less nervous, less anxious abroad.
While I was exploring the Asian part of the world, I also took a course in scuba diving. Unlike the German version of me, the abroad one did not give it a lot of thought. I just did it. At the beginning, I was terrified. Until then, I had not even snorkeled before. Everything was new to me. All of the sudden, I was able to breathe and see underwater. The sounds were differently. An entirely new world opened up to me. It was overwhelming. To be honest, I had some difficulties at first, but then I overcame my fear and fell in love with all the aquatic life. I did the course; I went diving again and again, deeper and deeper, met all different kind of fish. I lost fear and gained self-confidence. It felt damn good!
Of course, you are not always feeling incredibly great when you are traveling solo. Most of the people overlook how hard and challenging it can be to organize, to do actually everything on your own. There is no one who supports you or help you out in difficult situations. I had to do everything by myself. Of course, I had plenty of moments where I felt lost, lonely and actually very alone. (Not any more often than back in Germany though.) Then I had to be strong and figure something out and push myself to get out of this negative state and to move on. That is what made me grow; that is what made me stronger. Now I know I can do whatever I want and go wherever I want. Nothing and no one is holding me back of anything anymore. There is no more fear. I replaced it with strength and confidence. Anything is possible. Life is good. Life is full of wonderful people and beautiful places. Even though I was traveling on my own, I met many amazing people with incredible personalities. Our paths crossed for a short time when we had the chance to get to know each other and spend some unforgettable moments with each other. There are so many interesting characters out there! I am very grateful that I had the chance to meet them and be part of their life. Because of that, I was never really alone. The opposite. I felt connected to all those great people and therewith to the world as a whole. For the first time in my life, I felt like I actually belonged to the world, to this life even. Many times, I was at the right place at the right time with the right people. Those memories, those experiences can never be taken from me. They will always be my precious treasure of life. They will always help me to get through future situations and moments where I feel numb, lost and alone.
All I had to do was to open myself up, loose fear and just live. Living the moment. Enjoying the moment. I was surprised how many good things, how many good people happened during my travels. Sometimes life can be so simple! Finally, I truly loved my life and every single part of it. Because it was finally my life. The life I always wanted…
Leaving the Past Behind or Acceptance of Reality
Back in Germany, I had the feeling I was not in control of my life. I was just functioning and doing things that society wanted me to do. As a result, I lost control when I left the country and went on my trip. I gave up security for insecurity. Every day I was the one in charge. No one told me what to do anymore. There was no society that pushed me into directions any longer. It made me realize that it just was not my time for certain things in life yet. While others are getting married and having children, I am still enjoying freedom and figuring out what to do in life and what I actually want for myself. Back in Germany, I always thought something was wrong with me because I had different things on my mind. On my journey, I met many people, actually many women from all over the world that had exactly the same doubts and fears. Due to them, I realized nothing was wrong with me at all. I accepted that it just was not my time yet. I was not ready to start a family yet. I could not force something precious like that to happen just because people want you to. For me, it was more important to explore life first. Nothing was wrong with that. The opposite. Everything was ok exactly the way it was. There was a different time for each and every one in life. For me freedom was more important than settling down. Who could blame me for that?
Apart from this very important realization, I was surprised how easy I let go from the past, former expectations, imaginations and wishes. Taking part in a ten-day mediation retreat in Myanmar was helping me a lot to sort out my thoughts and feelings about me and pretty much everything. Being in noble silence, it was only me and my mind. I was trapped in thoughts. I had the time to focus on myself and figure things out. It was like I was thinking about everything that ever happened in the past 28 years. Finally, I could let go of everything that happened and eventually still had an unconscious impact on me. Those 28 years were over. The past was the past. It would not hold me back any longer. I could let it go and finally fully focus on the present and move on.
At the same time, the meditation retreat was the perfect opportunity to let go of a nasty old habit of mine. After 15 years, I finally quit smoking. Only a couple of months before I had quit drinking. Both were old habits, bad addictions I had in Germany. Before my trip, I could not imagine a life without heavy drinking, smoking and partying. It was my way of losing control every now and then in a very reasonable life. All of the sudden, I put those nasty habits behind me and changed patterns. I felt like being in control again. I made positive changes and therewith room for positive things to happen in my life again.
On my trip, I did not only learn to accept the past as the past, but also myself. In Germany, I always thought I was the problem, I had to change, I did not fit to the society. Now I realized there was not anything wrong with me. Not at all. The German society, Germany itself just does not fit to me. I am ok, I am actually great exactly the way I am. I finally learned to truly love myself again for who I am and how I am. Those couple of months I spent all over the world made me feel stronger and more self-confident. I did not only fell in love with the world, but also with life again. Traveling brought me back on track. I feel like being on the right path again. I left as a broken, lost someone and returned as a healed, strengthened me. Traveling is the most powerful, joyful, helpful therapy there is!