27 July 2022
A few people asked me to write a book after my road trip. A BOOK! That actually sounds like a great idea, but I feel like, if I start writing from the very start of everything, it’ll become a trilogy! 🥲😅 I thought, let’s just start with a blog.
When I was working and couldn’t visit my family in India for over 2 years, I kept ignoring the fact that I was unhappy and wasn’t myself. I know how to live alone but to handle high work stress with no physical support/presence of family was getting to me. I had become like a machine, who kept pushing and was dedicated to her work and off work kept pushing myself to focus on my creative side to find some kind of calm and peace. I pushed myself too hard! I had to stop!
I was not truly attending to what was going on inside, thinking work stress is ‘normal’ and I should just deal with it quietly. Also, me being away from home is ‘okay’, because everyone is going through the same, because of Covid. Dismissing the fact that everyone’s journey is different and I need to pay attention to mine.
After a lot of self-reflection, I realised that I have to do something just for myself, something that might not make any sense to anyone in my life, but I decided if it made sense to me, I was going to do it and I exactly knew what I wanted.
“I had to take a long break, I had to break my routine, I had to go away from work stress, I had to be closer to nature, I had to visit family and I had to do all of that now!”
When I was on the road, these were the things I was concerned about:
1. Drive Safe and Stay Alive
2. Figure out where to camp safely that day or to check into a hostel and Stay Alive
3. Do I have enough food stocked up to Stay Alive.
Yep, being safe and staying alive was the goal!
Once the above things were all sorted, I had all this time, my time with JUST ME. I had decided that I won’t distract myself with any kind of TV or entertainment. I wanted to be all alone with my thoughts and had a lot of time to reflect and re-discover who I really am!
During my trip on 16th May, when one of my best friends asked, ‘How are you feeling?’. I didn’t have to think too much, my answer was, ‘I feel like, I am falling in love with myself, more and more every day! I know it sounds weird saying it out loud, I love the person I’m becoming, this trip has so many challenges and it is making me reflect on every single thing in my life! Feels like I’m getting to know myself all over again. This is definitely one of the best decisions I have taken in my life! I am present, I am enjoying the driving, the camping and hosteling, the people I am meeting, basically everything. I have to pinch myself to remind me this is MY LIFE! I feel blessed, lucky and grateful that I am able to do this whole thing. I listen to myself, I take care of my mental health, I truly pay attention now when I’m feeling low and take actions to change that, I feed myself good food, take myself to epic locations, I REALLY enjoy my company, and I feel like I can do this forever!’
Now, I did do all these things before in some ways, but I wasn’t focusing on changing anything about the core issues that were making me feel the way I was feeling. I had to challenge that thought process.
I used to think, or maybe Social Media, sub-consciously programmed me to think, Self-love is doing a night-time routine, going for brunch with friends, buying expensive things, etc. I was so WRONG! Social media portrays the concept of ‘Self-love’ as something you can BUY and EXPERIENCE. I am not denying some of those things does make you feel good, but only momentarily.
To make my point I need to talk about the concept of HEDONIC ADAPTATION. It refers to the notion that after positive (or negative) events (i.e., something good or bad happening to someone), and a subsequent increase in positive (or negative) feelings, people return to a relatively stable, baseline level of affect (Armenta, Bao, Lyubomirsky and Sheldon, 2022).
What I am trying to say is, Positive experiences can trigger happy feelings in the moment, but it is not sustainable in the long run. You will return to your baseline emotional state. And if your baseline is all over the place, doing nice activities will only bring temporary distraction from the deeper problems or issues.
So, to conclude, this is where my head at after the road trip:
- I understand now, distracting myself from the issues and not resolving them will only make the issues bigger. So challenge your negative views and thought process often.
- Self-love is truly accepting myself, my strengths and insecurities alike and to not be distracted or scared to look deeper within. To not be afraid to ask difficult questions and to actually take actions to change and improve things. When a thought comes that bothers, me I know that I have to acknowledge it, resolve it if I can, if it is in my control, if not, I have to let it go.
- It is OKAY to ask for help! This is a big one for me, I’m working on it.
- When I’m outdoors, to be present and one with the surroundings, just being there in that moment. Make the most of each day!
- That I set my own pace to grow and that life is not a race, it can sometimes surely feel like it, but it’s not. So, realise that it is okay to slow down and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, if I am content with whatever I’m doing.
- Became aware of the fact that I cannot love others if I didn’t even know how to love and take care of myself, like they say, your cup has to be over-flowing for you to be able to pour into others. Otherwise, you will just keep asking for love and empty other people’s cups too!
- That I create my own reality. I decide how I feel and I can change things if it doesn’t feel right. I don’t have to be stuck, everything can be organized and sorted, if I decide I wanted to do something. I just had to get out of my own head.
At last, just want to say that after my experience this year, my emotional and mental well-being is my first priority, and if those things are in check, I am certain that I can literally achieve any goals I have in life, regardless of anyone’s opinion. If I can do and achieve what I have when I was not in the right headspace, I wonder what I could accomplish if I’m in the right mindset. 🔥🙌😎
Reference: Armenta, C., Bao, K., Lyubomirsky, S. and Sheldon, K., 2022. Is Lasting Change Possible? Lessons from the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention Model.