Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Space

Last year I walked away from a regimented life of work and graduate school for a trip around the world. I left routine for wonder. I knew my semester-long journey would change me, but I had no idea it would send my previous life away for good. In addition to reaching the end of a wanderlust lover’s greatest dream, I also had the agonizing task of saying goodbye to my father. None of my life resembled what I left. I had traveled to fourteen countries in four months, but nothing felt as foreign as my return home. Everything was so different that I felt lost in the change. I wondered where I was and who I was in the new space.

Who we are is not where we live, where we work, nor is it solely wrapped up in the people in our lives. Who we are is the internal voice that is present at home, at work, and in the company of loved ones—and not-so-loved ones. We often get so focused on our day-to-day activities that who we are goes unheard. We can be so preoccupied performing roles and playing into expectations that who we are is silenced. Ironically, it is in unchartered territory that we are successful in discovering our most authentic self.

My life didn’t feel familiar, but the comfort of familiarity is the enemy of growth. Wading in the contentment of routine ushers in complacency and erodes motivation. This period of uncertainty and partial seclusion has been uncomfortable, challenging, and difficult, but it has also been freeing, insightful, and inspiring. I once longed for my routine, but I now love my deeper understanding and appreciation of independence. I hoped my relationships would remain the same, yet if they had, I wouldn't have been as grateful for the unexpected sources of support that have become my daily rays of sunshine. I initially wanted to recreate the life I left, but I have grown more driven to produce a life I wouldn’t dream of leaving. My life changes demanded me to change my life. I was never lost in the new space, I simply needed to grow in order to operate in it.

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