Secker Goes Globetrotting
19th Jul 2012
Here's to new adventures...
Tonight I fly home. The adventure that has been the last 12 months of my life ends tonight when my plane takes of from JFK. The last few days, weeks and even the last month I think I've been trying to prepare myself for the inevitability of today and I've had plenty of time to reflect on this past year.
355 days and 12 countries later and it only feels like yesterday that I was on my way to Heathrow with the emotional goodbyes and then my arrival in India early on a Sunday morning. I can picture it all so clearly yet I have so many of these memories I wonder how my brain honestly stores them. I have spent a vast amount of time almost trying to sear them in my memory as although the pictures will be a wonderful reminder, it's not the same as being there and what you feel at the time doesn't get captured in a photo. And boy have those feelings been incredibly strong. I plan to do a last blog post when I'm home which lists the highlights so I'll not do that here. I guess I'm trying to put into words how I feel at the moment.
I'm sat in central park, in New York City, which has been my favourite city for a long time (bar London) and after seeing many more still remains top dog. It has been the perfect place to round off my trip.
So how do I feel?
Well, mostly I feel sad. Before leaving home - and I think most people embarking on travels think this - I wondered what if I hated it? What if it just wasn't for me? This didn't deter me of course, but even as I was sat at the airport waiting for my very first flight that doubt slowly crept in. But who wouldn't love this? My expectations for this past year have been constantly topped, sure it hasn't always been amazing and I haven't loved every country but I've had an absolute blast seeing so many different things and experiencing different cultures. Ah then there are the people. There are different kinds of travel friends you make. I like to class them in three groups.
1 - people you hang out with for a day or short period of time, you get along, it's some company and then you go your separate ways and you have nice memories of your time together
2 - You might spend more time with this group, get to know them better and if you happen to be in the same country or place they live, you'll get in touch and reminisce about that trip you took together etc
3 - and then there are those that you meet, share a lot with and leave knowing that you'll be friends for a long time yet (I have a few who definitely fall in this category!)
It's all great seeing wonderful places and the great sights of the world but sometimes you want to share that moment with someone, anyone in fact just so you can say out loud how great it is. And there in lies one of the wonderful things about travel - there's always someone to hang out with if you go looking for it.
Technically that hasn't always been the case, but something I've learnt this past year is to be fully comfortable in my own company. I always thought I was comfortable in my own company before this trip. I like a combo of my own time and spending time with others (too much of either and I get antsy for the other) but there have been times on this trip where for various reasons I've had to be on my own for a length of time too long for my liking. The consequence of this? I think I can say that I'm 100% happy to be in my own company for any length of time now.
What else have I learnt? What scares you doesn't always end up being that scary. Feel the fear and do it anyway?! I never managed that before but white water rafting showed me that it's possible to be scared of something, do it and love it. I wasn't as scared sky diving but a year ago I'm not sure I would have paid to throw myself out of a plane.
One other thing I learnt about me? Now this is a bit soul searchy but it's important and it took me a long time to realise it.
While visiting with my friend Katie in Philly we were having one of those deep and meaningful discussions about life and I was musing over what our 30s might hold and what my 20s were like. I spent the majority of my 20s trying to work out who I was and where I fitted in the grand scheme of life, who was I and what would I be when I was older? Who or what am I striving to be/achieve? I used to get so frustrated that I could never answer those questions, surely I should know this by now, especially in my mid 20s when I started on a management programme at work and we'd discuss all these things in terms of career and I was having coaching and well it all just got to be something I disliked. And still I didn't have those elusive answers.
Finally my frustration just turned into being unsatisfied with where I was in life and who I felt I had become. And that ladies and gentleman is where the travel idea came to the forefront. I knew as soon as I thought "I want to do this" that it would be answer to everything. Well I was pinning a lot of hope on it but all felt right and when it finally got the green light (thank you government for giving me redundancy!) I couldn't wait to get on the discovery journey. I wrote a post about the "finding yourself" concept ages ago and I always balked at my friends slightly humorous attempts to make me admit this is what I was going for. I was, but I saw it as running away from what essentially was a place in my life I didn't understand. Anyways, while talking this through with Katie she turns to me and says "you know what, to me you're the same person you were 12 years ago when we met".
Me: (slight pause) yeah I guess that's true.
Sounds obvious doesn't it?! So obvious in fact that it's taken me this long to see it?
This got me thinking. Have I therefore achieved what I set out to do? Guess so. Thing is I expected to be different after this trip - like I'd have some kind of epiphany - but that wasn't necessary. I feel, again for the first time that I can remember, comfortable in who I am. So I don't know what I want to do with my professional life and I don't know what I want my 30s to hold for me - what I do know is that I'll work it out, or life will work it out for me.
That is what I needed to know and understand. It just took me to travel the world to see it. Hallelujah! (and when I'm home and lose sight of this because I'm not adjusting to reality well and I start to freak out, please feel free to tell me this. I promise to listen!)
Tonight I fly home and I'm sad that this adventure has come to and end but I'm excited to get home and see family and friends and sleep in my own bed!
Always look on the bright side of life right? Will do and the next adventure is surely just around the corner...
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