Has anyone ever asked you, “what was the best year of your life”? It’s a difficult question to answer. When I have been asked this question before, I always used to say, 2001, the year I lived in France for the first time. I always immediately answered with that response without any hesitation! At times I would question what it was about that year that made me enjoy it so much. Was it because I was young and had no responsibilities, was it the traveling to other countries in Europe, was it because my parents were still supporting me, was it because I wasn’t working in the real world yet or was it really just France itself? I’ve been asking myself this question for years and years and never found the answer…..until now.
I now know that it wasn’t France at all. It was actually ME and who I was as a person during that year. I was adventurous, open-minded, energetic, free-spirited, maybe a little naive, confident but most importantly optimistic about life. I challenged myself, was not consumed by money or material things, had a mind of my own, I welcomed change, solved my own problems, yearned for new experiences and was interested in meeting people that were different from me. I trusted people with no skepticism about their intentions, I had an open heart and was not afraid of getting hurt. I was a dreamer and happy just because! Sure, I didn’t have much money but that didn’t even cross my mind.
That’s why it was the best year of my life because it was who I was as a person and nothing else, I was alive and truly living.
These past six months have lit a fire inside me and slowly all of these qualities started to come back. I forgot what many of these qualities felt like and that I even used to possess them at one time. For the past 10 years I started to lose who I was. I wasn’t passionate about things anymore and let everything I love, hobbies and interests take a backseat. Priorities changed and meaningless things became the focus of my universe. Life simply got in the way, of me being happy as funny as that sounds.
Last year I discovered a new band, thanks to my brother Adam. Whenever I would listen to one song in particular from them, I would always get choked up because it described me so perfectly, it’s as if the song was written about me. The song talks about greed and always wanting more and how the singer doesn’t like the person he has become. That was me, nothing satisfied me. I wanted the perfect apartment, a job that made me rich, the perfect body and all the latest and greatest electronics and clothes. I thought material things would make me happy and no matter how much I bought, no matter how much I went to the gym, how hard I worked or how hard I scrubbed my apartment clean, I was never satisfied. Nothing was good enough. I was waiting for happiness to knock at my door.
This year I have lived out of a backpack for 6 months; wearing the exact same clothes, the exact same shoes and using only one purse. I haven’t stayed at the nicest places, I’ve worn dingy jeans and T-shirts for days at a time (in Paris out of all places), haven’t been to a hair salon in months and have bought a quarter of material things that have caught my eye in the hundreds of stores I’ve stepped foot in. Since January, I’ve lived a life that is completely different from the lifestyle that I grew accustom to, and lived in way that I thought would never satisfy me or be good enough. Yet through all of this, I found happiness. And I found it all on my own. Sometimes it was strange to feel so happy when I was sharing it with no one else except me, myself and I. Now I won’t say that life is perfect and that I see “la vie en rose” because there are still some things that are missing, but hopefully one day I’ll get there. I listen to the song, “ill with want” from the Avett Brothers now and I am no longer sad when I hear it. In fact, I’m relieved when I hear it because that song is no longer about me.
Here is a link to this beautiful song.
I like the person I am now, for the most part. After a lot of soul-searching, reflection and digging deep inside she is back. Ok so maybe I had to quit my job and be alone on my own for 6 months but at least I found the person I was and who I want to be. I didn’t originally start out on this journey for that reason, I just needed to take a break and wanted to see the world but some how this has been the outcome. I now know that what I need in life is not material things, a beautiful apartment, a high-power job, perfect looks, designer shoes or a ton of money; its to appreciate simple and beautiful things and have meaningful relationships with people. And I experienced that and so much more during this trip. I’m not saying that it is wrong to have or want any of these things but it is naive to think that they will eventually bring you happiness.
The the real challenge now, is seeing how to stay like this once I go back to real life. But as the saying goes only you can make yourself happy; no job, person or thing is responsible for your happiness, it comes from within.