The paradoxes of life are vast and it never ceases to amaze me how sometimes in a city of millions, one is able to feel so painfully alone. On numerous occasions in my life I have found myself across the world in a new city, laying in a foreign bed in a dark room, staring up at the ceiling with tears rolling down my cheeks. For being a self proclaimed world traveler who is constantly looking for their next adventure and has an intense aversion to the idea of ‘settling down’, you would think I would effortlessly acclimate to changing environments and thrive in the veils of the unknown. Overall I think I do, but it is usually not without its growing pains, mainly when the move is a more long term commitment than a couple weeks of vacation.
I will always remember my first solo trip to Tokyo at fifteen years old where my apprehensive parents were putting me on the plane, continually asking if I was sure I wanted to do this and making sure I knew I could just come home whenever I wanted. I brushed off their concerns as casually as possible, laser focused on the fact I was living my dream and taking a big step towards my independence. Fast forward thirteen hours later as the plane touched down in Tokyo, I was hit with the reality I was alone on the other side of the world and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The fear hit me so unexpectedly that I had a mini meltdown at the customs gate when the officer simply asked me where I was staying. I instantly burst out in tears because all I knew was I had to call my agency from a payphone once I landed and they would tell me where I was supposed to meet them. So much for my idea of being a cool and collected ‘adult’ who had their shit together. I was reduced down to being a five year old who had lost their parents in the grocery store.
As the years have passed and my curiosity has continually directed me to more and more eccentric travels, I have grown much more comfortable with the fear of the unknown. I have surprised myself by being ok with not knowing exactly how things are going to turn out, who I’m going to meet or what I’m going to be doing a month or a year from now. It’s actually quite freeing in a way because you are then allowing infinite potential to come into your world, not pigeonholing how and when things are supposed to happen. But the part that I still sometimes struggle with, even in a place that I have lived in for a significant amount of time, is the loneliness that comes from emotional isolation. It is a feeling of remoteness that no outside source can fully bring into balance. I can be in a city of millions or have friends and family nearby, but I will still sometimes retreat into a place of feeling such disconnection and inability to express myself to others. It is the absurdity of pushing people and opportunities away, while at the same time aching for them to come closer. It is being in the eye of the storm where you want nothing and everything all at the same time.
It’s paradoxical because I truly enjoy spending time alone and I thrive when I am able to have the freedom to do things on my own schedule, but at the same time if I’m not rooted in the higher aspects of my being, that independence can turn into a darker shadow of feeling isolated and rejected. When I’m happy I feel so connected to every particle of life and I feel safe and supported no matter how desolate my environment. But when the tables turn, it’s like reality has broken into tiny little pieces that I can’t seem to make fit no matter how hard I try. I’ve experienced this in relationships where the most happy and healthy moments come from a place of both people being happy with who they are and sharing that happiness with each other. The opposite happens when one or both of the parties feels vulnerable within themselves and is grasping for the other person to save them in some sort of way. They become ruthless for any sense of ‘security’ whether in the form of trying to control who their partner interacts with, how they’re supposed to act and even something as beautiful as marriage or children can be reduced down to an attempt to control future stability of the relationship. When we feel lost within ourselves we will grasp and claw at anything (or anyone) to hold on to thinking it is the life raft we need to pull ourselves out of deep and murky waters.
But no matter how many new cities we run away to or how many new people we wake up with, we can never outrun ourselves. We take our instability and fears with us wherever we go. They will paint themselves into the new environment and before long, even though we may be looking at a different picture, deep down everything is exactly the same. Sometimes we can find ourselves in toxic situations and it is wise to change our external environments to facilitate easier health and healing, but the action cannot stop there. The most powerful resource we have available is conscious presence to our state of being, even if that state of being is one we would rather not face. While it is important to try our best to focus on the good of any situation and move towards what we do want, some darker and heavier patterns that have been following us around for a long time must be transmuted by feeling and accepting. They are the parts of ourselves that we have rejected or deemed as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’. When we cast judgement about what are acceptable feelings and which are not, we limit the expression of our experiences and they get stuck and begin to intensify in both our emotional and physical body. The more we disallow their expression, the more they will manifest in negative experiences both mentally and physically.
So when I look back on my memory of my first solo travel experience and allowing those feelings of fear, confusion and frustration to hit me, it was actually a very cathartic action because they left me almost as quickly as they came. I allowed them to express themselves in the first night of bawling my eyes out, scared shitless about what the hell I had gotten myself into. After that I felt more clear, in balance to really appreciate all the new experiences I was now being bestowed with. It’s in the moments where certain feelings are already present, but I am not allowing their expression, where trouble really starts to brew. When I deny how I am feeling, especially when it becomes a pattern, things begin to escalate in a direction that I’d rather not be going. Having said that, I don’t believe that we have to endlessly suffer and be constantly ramifying negative feelings. I believe in emotional preventative medicine so to say, where we are conscious of how we are directing our energies. Where attention goes, energy flows. If there is something you want to experience more of in your life, focus as much appreciation towards it as possible. Don’t go looking for trouble in spaces you do not want to experience. When you constantly talk and fight against what you don’t want, soon enough you will find exactly that in your experience. We live in an inclusion based Universe and placing your focus on what you do not want will only bring it closer.
I am grateful for the experiences that have brought me to where I am now and that even in the most painful of situations, there was even just a glimmer of the true knowing that everything was alright, exactly as it was. It is with that experience that I now have the contrast to know what it is I truly would like to experience more of in my life. When you know what you do not want, you automatically light a fire under what it is you do want. Know that there is nothing outside of you that will bring true fulfillment unless you are already creating that fulfillment inside of yourself. The outside will mirror the inside. Your first task is to bring light and accept all parts of yourself exactly how they are in the present moment. Let them be. Find comfort in the discomfort and watch how your life transmutes itself without you having to push your will upon it. We have been given the gift of this mortal life to do with what we wish. It is only our own opinion that shapes our perception of what we experience so we must allow what is there to express itself. Nothing is constant other than change, so if you do find yourself alone in a city, know that it won’t be long before love comes rushing in.
Sending you lots of love,