Ever heard of the saying “Lose yourself, to Find yourself”? This popular notion seems to be a constant in almost every travel blog. I remember the day clearly; it was a slightly chilly seemingly average Sunday morning, the sun had a particular dream-like quality as it peeked through the overcast sky. I sat partially hidden between the rocks at my favourite beach spot watching the sun, the sea and the occasional passer-by. Very important bit of info to note here…no wait, actually fundamental, is that I was as I once used to joke was “pushing the Big-Three-0” Now it was my turn, and it seemed the joke this time was on me.
If you Thirty, already passed your Thirties or dare I say it ‘pushing’ it, your mind self-reflects like one big movie montage that is your hopes, dreams, mishaps and your life’s finest moments. It was at this exact moment catching in the last of the South African summer sun, that my usually calm thoughts took on a new spin of overly dramatic doom and slight gloom. It happens. The impending age of Thirty brings along these whirl of emotions, and it’s just so damn hard to deny their defiance.
Having watched Eat. Pray. Love, like any sane woman, has, these three words become ingrained in your mind and snap you in and out of any said causal Sunday morning reveries. Julia Roberts really has a way of doing that to you. If you have not watched it, I implore you too. Julia Roberts, who by the way does have a character name but that is hardly the point here, takes herself on a transforming, self-reflective and just plain cool journey of self-love and discovery through Italy. As I thought to myself how exactly it was that I wanted to remember my Big-Three-O birthday; I told myself with a fiery determination that I would take myself on a solo backpacking journey through Europe for two months. I feverishly scrimped and saved and when it was finally time to step on that plane, I did so with the excitement of a 5-year eating ice cream. I dived heart first into this venture on nothing but a feeling, pure whims and freedom to play out my daydreams. New adventures always require a certain amount of pure madness.
It was with this search of wanderlust that I spent my two-month backpacking Europe experience wide-eyed and optimistic. Everything felt endless and entirely possible. The surge of energy you receive when your most important task is an array of endless ways to spend your days getting lost in a new city. Oh, the things you will find and see. One thing, which surprises me, every time, is the new sensory memories you will have created. I still find myself catching a random smell and I am instantly taken back to a memory. They come totally out of the blue and bring with a sense of completeness and a warm tingle, which is very much welcomed. Even if this means, getting caught publicly smiling to yourself in a blissful daze as you transported back in time. Totally. Worth. It.
The magical thing about traveling alone is that it forces oneself to focus entirely on their own needs and desires. The feeling of total anonymity of being in an undiscovered city is both scary and empowering. You rack up great travel memories; a series of moments that no matter how big or small they seem, end up holding so much meaning. This is something that no one can ever take from you. Your mind is blown and captivated by all the new and wonderful discoveries you have encountered. Allowing yourself to see the World through a new lens, a complete openness, a desire for personal growth and welcoming connections with people who would never have crossed your path had you not pursued this fantasy of travel. It forever lingers and changes you.f
Thank-You Julia Roberts. I get it now.