While I have every intention of continuing this blog, this is going to be the last post in this series, for no other reason than the simple fact that I know no more than I’ll have told you by the end of this chapter.
In planning this next phase of my journey I’ve been forced to spend a lot of time reflecting and making sense of what’s really important here.
In 2013 there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be a circular route, this journey would always take me home again. But the longer I’ve been away, the easier it’s become to stay away. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to justify it to my family, why I haven’t felt I missed them enough to come rushing home for birthdays, Christmas’s, illness or celebrations. I absolutely have missed them, sometimes excruciatingly, but I just knew I wasn’t ready. I left with the intention of fixing something inside me and filling a void that’s always lingered there. I was lost and broken and I had no idea what I wanted, except for a change, something big, a great adventure.
I’ve started to develop a few important thoughts, realisations, and it’s surprised me how much of an impact they’ve had on my general outlook.
They are this:
- I am not that important. In the grand scheme of life, I am a tiny pixel and the only person who lays awake at night worrying about whether I’ll fall asleep soon, is me.
- The world has the potential to be a horrible place. It’s really up to you how you choose to feel about that or what you want to do about it. In a world where an intolerable stench like Donald Trump can be responsible for the progression or regression of lives and attitudes on such a grand scale, it’s up to each and every individual in this world to do as many good things as possible and hope that one day the good things in the world outweigh the bad. Because humanity will never be perfect, but there are more ways to change the world around you than political processes.
- Acceptance is key. While it may not always be easy to adjust to a circumstance, there is absolutely no benefit in fretting about situations you either cannot change, or have no intention of trying to change. If you have done everything within your power to make it okay, then, frankly, it is okay. Nothing is forever, so suck it up buttercup. There are people in the Himalayas with no shoes. Your life is fucking fine.
Of these realisations, number three is worth expanding on, so there is something further I have to add.
I spent some time trying to enforce a Buddhist attitude into my life, thinking that acceptance of everyone and every situation was the only way to be truly happy. I’ve recently come to the following, very important conclusion.
That’s a load of shit.
Acceptance is the right way to go, you should accept what you cannot change, and in no way should you chastise anybody else for who they are as a person, it is not for you to change them.
But more importantly than accepting everything around you… Accept yourself.
Impure, imperfect, flawed, lost, broken, sometimes slightly judgemental, sometimes a bit more abrupt than you could be, sometimes unhappy with the world and everything in it, sometimes a bit of a dick. You.
This is who I am, and it’s totally okay, because I am human and all of these things are human traits, feelings and emotions. I don’t have to be Mother Teresa to be a good person, I am allowed to feel human emotions and I don’t need to punish myself for having a personality… Michelle Obama maybe?
I may not be loved, or even liked by everybody who meets me, I’m sure the people I meet could pick out plenty that they dislike about me, but that doesn’t mean that they should or will and it doesn’t mean that I have to change to suit them. I will never please everybody and I cannot live my life with such ridiculously high standards for myself. Despite my internal depression and anxiety struggles, I am a nice person with good intentions, and that is good enough.
And that, my friends, makes me very happy indeed.
I am good enough for me. Are you good enough for you? Does anything else really even matter?
In the past few weeks, since coming to these conclusions, my body clock has stopped pounding on my brain, questioning why I haven’t settled down yet or where will I want to settle, or whether there’s an age limit on a good, healthy, adequately sized bum.
My desire to ‘look like’ I’m having a good time has faded away, which is finally allowing me to actually have a good time. I am content and I am eagerly anticipating the next leg of my journey, due for lift off… This time next week!
I started planning a few months ago, with an urgent need to answer all of the questions. To know whether this next trip would take me home, or back to another era of my life or onwards, to a new and unexpected phase. I still haven’t answered those questions, but I have finally accepted that it actually doesn’t matter.
Because wherever I end up will be exactly where I chose to be. How could I possibly not be happy with that kind of freedom?
Without further ado, I will complete this series with a short overview of the plan you may have already read about, followed by the final new addition to the itinerary for the (hopefully) incredible 6 months ahead of me…
First stop – Fiji
This is completely new territory and will be an eye-opener for sure. Doing good things for good people in the community will hopefully bring me back down to earth after a selfish year of project management in a stressful little city bubble. And a month of sunshine can’t be a bad thing either! If you missed the plan for my time here, you might like to read 10 WEEKS – Planning Fiji
Second on the agenda – Australia
A revisit to a degree, but I’ve never been to the East coast before. I’ll be kicking off Australia round 2 with a massive New Years Eve celebration with a friend I met on the road a few months ago in NZ, and if our previous nights out are anything to go by then it’s due to be a cracker of a night! Following this, I’ll be making my way up the east coast to Cairns, initially, and will need to find myself in Darwin in time for my next flight in March. If the Australian leg of the journey is of interest to you then you could read Planning – A Game for Winners or Losers? for some background.
Next up – Borneo
I have been ridiculously excited about this bit since I left Africa 3 years ago, but have only recently confirmed all of the details, meaning all that’s left to do here is organise my visa! Orangutans and Sun Bears await in the jungles of East Kalimantan.
After that – Thailand
… I think. I have to wait and see how well I manage my budget through Australia, but I have way too much time on my hands here to just spend it hanging out on a Thai island, I would really like to take a little detour through Malaysia, but that part remains to be seen. Otherwise it will just be a month of diving, followed by a full moon party and then Bangkok to Chiang Mai for the more cultural intakes. If you’ve got any ideas on how I should spend my time here, I’d love you to make your suggestions on 4 Weeks – A Scaredy-Cat Special
Last but not least…
This brings me right up to the final piece of the puzzle – and I think it’s possibly another one of the more exciting parts.
Once I arrive in Chiang Mai, I intend to fly straight to Beijing where I’d like to spend a couple of days taking in the local food, sights and culture and end my time there with a two day hike along the Great Wall of China. I have found what look to be some incredible deals for a walking guide, which I will not go without as a solo female traveller in such a different culture to my own, and to be able to get to parts of the wall that I might otherwise not know were accessible. This includes camping overnight in a watch tower along one of the more picturesque and slightly less travelled parts of the wall – compared to Badaling and Mutianyu, which are the easy to reach spots for any tourist, meaning peace, serenity and photo opportunities will be gold dust in these areas. I’ve taken my tips for travelling the great wall from this phenomenal blog by Thrifty Nomads. Following this exciting overnighter, I will be taking the Trans-Tibetan rail down to Lhasa, ready to overland it (temples, hiking, prayer flags, views, peace and poor road conditions) to Kathmandu, which, my friends… Is where this part of my journey ends.
I had considered spending a little time in Kathmandu before moving on, but after spending my entire afternoon engrossed in the absolutely captivating journey that fellow (and far more advanced) blogger, Daniel, from Thisisyouth has been describing, I think I may scrap that and head for the lesser known parts of Nepal. Please do take the time to visit this page, if there was ever another travel blog I would put aside a day to read, this one is it.
From here, the world is my oyster, but as I will by this point have been 3 ½ years away from my familiar family, friends and favourite watering holes, I think I may take this opportunity to saunter quietly through as much of Europe as I can afford to see, and make my merry way home for a summer in sunny South Wales.
I have two new nephews to greet, a young sister’s wedding, a younger sister who has come of age and requires my pub culture coaching, grandparents who hardly remember me and parents who are still trying to forget me.
Most importantly, I think I have almost achieved what I left home to do.
I am happy.