There are many reason I’m in Guatemala – to learn Spanish, to experience a beautiful place and culture – but most importantly, to spend time with myself.
Know thyself. Giving yourself the time and space to learn and build upon just who that is, is one of the greatest things you can ever do for yourself.
So, I’m doing just that.
Even after Guatemala, I’m headed to spend August and September in Maine volunteering through wwoofing.org. I’ve given myself 6 months: 1/2 in Guatemala, 1/2 in Maine, to simply, BE.
My first month in Guatemala was focused on getting settled and into the flow of things, having a few nights out doing such things one only seems to do when traveling, and getting the momentum going on Spanish classes. Check. Check. Check.
So, now I’m getting focused on me. I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate, and let things soak in. And with that time, I can now see a few areas that I’d really like to focus on. Some are routines I want to give myself the space to solidify, others are finally dealing with aspects of my life I’ve buried away, and others are ways I want to further my path in knowing myself.
Below, I’ve listed what my focuses are, and some brief information on why and how I’m making these a priority.
1.) Reach Out to My Dad: I don’t talk about this much, but I haven’t spoken to my father in several years. We had a falling out, and I nearly hit a point where I thought maybe he’d never be in my life again. And then a few weeks ago 2 things happened: 1.) I emailed one of my best friends asking for help – I finally reached out to someone and told the truth about how hurt I was, and suddenly, after admitting it by confiding in someone I knew and loved, I felt so much more free from the pain. I used to say, “I overcame it. It made me stronger”, never admitting that it did the opposite to me. The power of asking for help …so hard to do sometimes ..but wow …so necessary. 2.) A photo was posted of my Dad on Facebook. I saw it around midnight one evening, and I stared at it for probably an hour. I realized that this man was a stranger to me now, and suddenly a pit in my stomach formed. And I suddenly didn’t feel mad or angry when I looked at him in this photo. I felt I finally forgave him. So, I’m going to start in the process of reaching out to my Dad. I’ve already sent him an email saying I planned to do it in the coming months, and I just needed some time. I want to move on from this. What happened between us is part of the part of me I’m moving on from. I do not want hate, anger, or pain to run my life.
2.) Begin Training (exercise) Daily: The truth is, I’m often an over-thinker. I could go on forever thinking. When I exercise, it works out all the clutter in my mind, and I’m left with the only thoughts I need. Furthermore, some of my happiest times are when I was running on the beach everyday at sunset when I lived in Saint Augustine, FL, and when I was rock climbing at the gym every night in Boulder, CO. Furthermore, I’m planning on diving into rock climbing and slacklining/highlining hardcore when I get back to the US – and if I want to achieve my goals there, I need to make sure my guns are ready for the show.
3.) Write in my Thank You Journal nightly: I started a Thank You Journal when I was 23. I still carry it around with me wherever I go, and I go in phases with how much I update it. But let me tell you this, if I could pin point one example of a habit I’ve had that truly made me a more content, more fulfilled person, it was keeping my Thank You Journal.
4.) Go out for a class of wine: I’m 26 years old. It’s an age where you’re no longer a young twenty something girl, but you also haven’t entered into the full stage of being a woman. (Kind of like that Britney Spears song …”I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” …wow… yes, I just quoted Britney haha. She’s still got it though …right?”) There’s something about having a glass of wine at a restaurant, a book in hand, or perhaps with a friend, that just makes me feel more like a woman.
5.) Meditate every morning: I started meditating for 30 minutes every morning when I was 23 years old. At that time, I was dealing with the the backlash of what happened with my Dad, and lots of other decisions that sent me into feeling quite lost. Breakups, returning to the US after a year in China, figuring out what to do with my life. You know, all that stuff. Meditating every morning became very enlightening to me. It’s an amazing feeling to connect with yourself like that. I can tell an extreme difference in myself throughout the rest of the day when I meditate, and the long term effects are incredibly noticeable. I’m more calm, I can breath more easy in the face of anything, and I just feel more centered.
6.) Complete all exercises in Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star Book: Let me tell you right now – if you’re in a place where you’re looking to get introspective, figure out why you are the way you are, and then navigate your life in order to phase into who you wish to be, this is the book for you. The exercises are very interactive, some time intensive, and very thought provoking. I’m taking my time on this book because I really want to take it in. (Check out the book here.)
Know Thyself: Summing It Up
Here’s the thing – I feel like I’m made to be a leader, and I have a feeling you probably do as well. But, I need to work on myself for a little bit. I’m really happy with where a lot of things are going – my website design business is growing, I’ve never been more proud of myself for investing my time and resources in learning Spanish, something I’ve wanted for a decade now, and I have to say I have some of the greatest friends in the entire world.
But I’m phasing into this next version of me. I’m shedding away layers that no longer suit me, and I’m building up this person that I know I’m capable of being.
I will say, however, that when you do go on a journey of “knowing thyself” and “growing thyself” like I am, it’s important to take your time, to have patience with yourself, and to let the process unfold naturally. It’s not easy to change. It’s not easy to grow.
So, should you read this and feel like you need to go on a similar journey, or you are currently on such one, make sure to give yourself that that time and space. I promise, like I said at the start of this essay, it will be the greatest gift you could ever give yourself. And without getting into details – you don’t necessarily need lots of money or even savings to do this – I went to the most affordable country in Central America and will receive free room and board in exchange for the volunteering in Maine. I took two things I knew I loved and wanted to learn more about – international travel and culture + a desire to experience living off the land, and I took the steps needed to make them happen.
Like I said, give yourself that time and space. And even if you can’t get away like me, you can still create a frame of mind by giving yourself a 6 month block wherever you are. If you can’t get away from your job, if you have responsibilities keeping you where you are – you can still give yourself the time and space to know thyself.
Good luck guys! Here’s to the journey of self. 🙂