This was a post I wrote 3 years ago, almost to the day. While I may no longer be alone, I still have problems with anxiety and overthinking, and so the message of what I went through and learned when I travelled South East Asia on my own are still valuable and still relevant to my life now as I ponder what to do when this adventure ends and I am faced with the reality of my future back home.
The search for our purpose in life can often stop us from enjoying what is right in front of us.
Sometimes, no matter if you are 7, 17 or in my case 27, all a girl needs is her mum. There is no one in the world like her. No one knows or loves you like your mum, and in a time when nothing and no one seems to be able to make a bad situation better, she is miraculously able to say or do exactly the right thing. It’s as if you are born with a guidebook that is specific to you, a manual forged out of the fibres of your being, and she is the only one that understands its contents, so that when you are miss-functioning or broken, all she has to do is consult the correct page to get you back up and running at full speed.
Today I hit a wall. A big, solid, unfriendly one. It’s been exactly three weeks since I arrived on the other side of the world, but it has only been 12 hours since my travel companion left me to continue this journey on my own. And it’s hard going. Now I’m not naive or stupid. I didn’t travel to ‘find myself’. I know exactly who I am. I also know exactly what I want and it came as no surprise to anyone who really knows me that ultimately, my greatest wish is to settle down and have a family. I don’t think there has ever been a time (other than a brief rebellious feminist ‘why should women stay at home’ stage) where I haven’t felt that the reason I am alive is to nurture and grow a family. I am all for choice and even more for equality. I want a career, of course. But in a society where there is an increasing disdain for women who choose to become ‘dumb housewives’, I am almost embarrassed to say that having a family is a priority in my life! In an era where women can have it all, I want it all, however I also believe, circumstance allowing, that if a woman decides to have children, she should be at home bringing them up. Controversial, I know!
This reaffirmation leaves the question then, why am I here? And this is the wall that I came up against today. It was a question I didn’t even know was there. A few disjointed texts to my nearest and dearest gave the support I needed for my currently lonely state, it was however a scarmbled mass of thoughts and feelings put in an email to my one and only mum that truly gave me the insight I needed but couldn’t quite grasp. Now I’m not saying she managed to bulldoze that wall right down to it’s knees (it’s a big old bugger), but she certainly gave me the pickaxe with which to start hacking my way free brick by brick. So spot on were her words that I wanted to share them with you:
‘Finding out that you know who you are is not always great, is it, because then you think: Well what am I going to do about it, seeing everything is crap and knowing who I am isn’t enough. But that’s not what you went away to find out, really. You went to find out: What am I going to do with who I am in the future? If that means coming home, do so! Or keep on going for now and keep faith. You went out there to find something!!! Maybe something you didn’t know you were looking for yet. And maybe it is still out there. Three weeks in places where loads of disillusioned Europeans and Americans are hanging about trying to find the answer to what they are may be the wrong place. Or maybe you just haven’t seen it yet, found it yet, because you are looking at it the wrong way around – like reading the newspaper upside down.’
‘Security comes from within not through being with a person – or more than one. And you know not to forget that life is not like a book and you may not find what you think you are looking for – but will find something you didn’t even know existed.’
‘And maybe you should just see this trip as a holiday for now. Not expect answers and look for them in every corner. Enjoy the weather! The people! The food. Just let yourself drift. You might surprise yourself yet. But whatever you do: don’t try to force things. Don’t think: I HAVE to find these things out here somewhere. Maybe you just need to get away and when you come back you will find what you want right here.’
I really couldn’t have said it any better. It is like she went into my head and extracted the exact information I needed but couldn’t decipher due to the emotional cloud over my head. Yes I’m still lonely, more than that I am scared, hell I feel like sobbing on my dirty, ant infested pillow as soon as I get back into my roofless cardboard hut. But at least it will be with a little more courage and confidence, and a faith that tomorrow, even if not brilliant, might just be ok.
Thank you Mummy xx