Words on a Page: Relationships, Personal Growth, and Random Shenanigans

July 13, 2016

I have tried to write this post so many times over the past 6 weeks. In fact, I have this on-going word document I have thrown stuff into whenever I can and now it is just this massive conglomeration of thoughts and emotions that I cannot, for the life of me, seem to organize into a cohesive piece. So here I am, sitting at a bagel shop in Brooklyn with a fresh word document open before me, and I will try, with all my might, to put words on paper and share it with the world.

Fuck.

Where to begin.

I think my problem at the moment is every time I sit down to write about something meaningful that has been happening to me, it changes faster than I can put words on paper. I mean the things I wanted to write about three weeks ago are so vastly different from my thoughts on those issues now that I can hardly do them justice. But I need to process these thoughts and the only way for me to do that is to accept complete vulnerability and authenticity, so here I go.

 

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(This next part was written 4 weeks ago)

Through these new bonds I have been forming, on the Wanderer, and carrying on into my actual trips, I am learning so much by being around people for so long. I am an introvert at heart and typically spend a lot of time alone in my normal life. This job doesn’t really accommodate those needs. It forces you into constant and often time uncomfortably difficult situations with people of all different personalities. Let me tell you, during training, there were moments where I could not stand people, where I had had all I could take and didn’t want to be around them anymore.

But then something sort of incredible happened as soon as I left training and started running my trip, those annoying things didn’t matter anymore. All that was left were all of these deep feelings of love and attachment for this group I had become so annoyingly close with over the previous three weeks. We had become family, had bonded over the shared struggle, had championed each other in our individual arenas, and now this ragtag group of people are some of the most important people to me. I guess my point in all this is that first impressions are not everything, and even when it comes to the most difficult or annoying people, there is something good to find. And if you can find that then life is all the better for it.

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(Written 3 weeks ago)

I also believe that a large part of this job is about endurance, pushing limits and growing on a very personal level. Not going to lie, but it takes a lot of mental and physical strength to do this job day in and day out. At this point in time, I have not had a single day off in almost 5 weeks. It’s hard. Especially because I am a pretty introverted person by nature. I do not gain energy being around a lot of people, in fact, it drains me to constantly be around people. The only way to counteract this is to have time alone, which comes so rarely. I have had a few moments where I just couldn’t take it anymore. In fact, one happened yesterday. We have had a difficult trip and yesterday I had a conversation with my co-CEO about how she needed me to step up more because of an injury she is trying to push through. We had been getting a little short with each other all day because we were frustrated at the situation we were in. I had made an error in routing us from monument valley to Durango, which took us about an hour off course through reservation land with absolutely no stops for almost three hours. I was already feeling defeated and our conversation at lunch brought me to my breaking point. While everyone was eating lunch I sat in a bathroom stall crying, exhausted and just needing to be alone. I gave myself those 3 minutes to breakdown before wiping my face and heading back to the group. There is no time to pause, no time to think, no time to process. All there is is that moment in time. Nothing before and nothing after.

I have had to let go of a lot. If you are anywhere near familiar with me and the way I have been the past 5 years or so, then you know I plan, I like to know what’s next, I do not live in the present. Or at least I have not lived in the present. That is changing. Whether it is out of necessity or out of desire I fully don’t know yet, but I know I have let go of a lot and just am what I am today. And in many ways that are really liberating because it allows me to finally know what it feels like to be living.

You know there is someone I met a few weeks ago that I really liked, but I can’t think too much about it. I’ve let go of wanting something to happen between us and instead am just seeing what the next day, next minute, next second brings. That’s all I can do. Last week I returned back to San Fran after the second day of my cross-country trip and I was exhausted and relieved to be seeing what was left of my wanderer family. Half of us had been sent out on the road already, the rest were hanging out in San Fran for the week, which naturally meant everyone was drinking and having a great time. Coming back that night was a bit rough. Having 2 days of my trip already past, I had quickly come to the stark realisation of how much I missed and cared for this group I had just spent the last three weeks with, I now knew how difficult and tiring it was actually being on a trip, and as a result my emotions were quickly bubbling up to the surface. Like a train, it hit me, all of the emotions I didn’t have time to think about over the previous three weeks. My ended relationship, my new life, my old life, the tiredness, the growing pains, all of it.

As some may know, back in March I started dating someone and it was great. We hung out all the time camping and climbing, we were going on fun weekend trips, and in a very short time, we had a bright little relationship. But just like the most exciting of shooting starts, before we knew it things were fading. I still care about this person and wish him all the happiness in the world, but us together as boyfriend and girlfriend just wasn’t right. He has many great qualities, but there was something missing, something I have yet to find in any person and those things are something I need in order to be in a solid relationship. So when I stepped into this job our relationship had already been on rocky ground and after a week of my new life we both decided that it was best if we went our separate ways.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a continuing theme throughout the summer. I guess the thing about it is when you are living so much in the moment you don’t take that time to be reflective and introspective about how things are changing and what that means to your own identity as an individual. It is far opposite the problem I normally have, where I think too much. So I am trying to attain more of a balance and I really believe that will be attained through writing.

Two days ago (three weeks ago) I was in Monument Valley and I decided to go off at one point and sit on my own and take some time to be reflective. I think I came to a few conclusions. First writing is a necessity for me. It needs to be a priority because it is how I express my feeling, how I process things, and how I find peace or mind. It is a self-care activity and in an environment where there is no time for self, it is something I simply need.

The second conclusion I came to is a need to let go of past loves. I have a few people whom I dated in the past that I am still friends with, who still appear in my life from time to time, and that has been completely fine because I have not felt the need to let go, but now I am ready. I am ready for the possibilities of the future, I want to be open to the new and not be held up by attachments from the past. I think that the only way I will be able to have something meaningful, unique, and precious with someone else in the future is to let go completely of my past loves. I also think just on an individual level the only way I will continue to grow as a person, a partner, and a friend is by releasing myself from the ties to these past relationships. I have taken a few big steps this past year to do just that. The person from one of my longest relationships and I decided to end all our communication this past January which I believe has proven to be very healthy for both of us. I think at the end of the day these guys are nice, but there is a reason things didn’t work out, and so it is time to move forward and close those doors and let other ones open.

I’ve thought a lot over the past few weeks about relationships. About what I want, what I am looking for, or even if I am looking for anything at all. Sometimes it is hard being a caring person and an independent person at the same time. You have this amazing capacity to love all the while needing space and time to grow alone. That being said, the one thing I have learned over the past few years, especially within the context of my solo travels, is that life is truly better when it is shared. I think it is important to maintain independence, individuality, and the ability to be comfortable alone, but perhaps doing everything alone is not the only fulfilling way to experience all life has to offer.

So what do I want then?

  • I want to be really vulnerable with someone special, someone who earns my time and attention.
  • I am an independent person and need to be able to see myself within a relationship not only with a partner but also as my own entity, independent of the other person. I need a man who respects that and encourages that.
  • I need a man who respects my individuality and my need for space, a man who encourages me in the chasing of my dreams.
  • I have a tendency to be a flight risk. I have big dreams and aspirations and actively act on those regularly. I want a man who not only supports that but who also wants to be a part of it.
  • I want a man who is also in the arena, who puts his feelings on the line, and who is not afraid of being vulnerable and open.
  • I want a man who is kind and loving, who doesn’t need to put on a front and who is manly enough to be secure in his feelings.
  • I want a man who loves his family, respects his mom and other women, and who would do anything for the people in his life.
  • I want a man who shares my outlook on the world, who is politically liberal and believes that we should aim to help and care for others. I need a man who generally has a positive disposition and who sees the positives in life over the negatives.
  • I want a man who is fun loving and cares more about experiences than things, someone who puts more stock in moments than money and material possessions.
  • I want a man who can travel the world with an open mind and open heart, who has a curiosity for life and a respect for other cultures and people.
  • I want a man who is passionate about his life, who loves what he does whatever that may be, and who can share new passions and experience with me.
  • I want a man who loves learning, who is educated (formally or not formally) and who puts value in the pursuit of knowledge.

I have yet to find such a man and that’s okay. Even if I never find someone like this, at least I know my standards and would rather be alone than settle for less. I also know that this is not a one-way street, In order to attract a high-value man (or woman I suppose) I must be a high-value woman myself. And that is what I am working on, not for anyone else, but for myself.

  • I aim to be a woman who is vulnerable, who loves fully, cares deeply and gives the time and attention needed by those in my life
  • I aim to be a woman who loves her family and makes them top priority in her life, regardless of the past.
  • I aim to be a woman who actively pursues knowledge, who approaches life with a taste for curiosity and a love for learning.
  • I aim to be a woman who jumps into new experiences, who says yes with enthusiasm to life’s opportunities, and who has a passion for living that is unsurpassable.
  • I aim to be a woman who takes life’s challenges with a smile, who understands that setbacks are opportunities for growth and transformation.
  • I aim to be a woman who dwells in positivity and who see the world as a glass half full.
  • I aim to be a woman that cares about the problems of the world and who tries to help in small ways to make the lives of those around her better even if through the smallest of ways.
  • I aim to be a woman that is politically liberal, who believes in a better world where we can all contribute to helping raise the living standards of our neighbors. I am an optimistic realist. I believe in helping people, and that it should be the aim of any community to have a healthier, more educated society. I believe we should love each other more, respect each other more, and believe in a better world.
  • I aim to be a woman who embraces the temporality of life, who knows that this is all we have and we must spend every minute making the most of it.

I am not perfect and by no means have all this down, I am a work in progress as we all are, but this is what I aim to be, the person I believe myself to be in its truest form. And it is all of what I hope to offer a worthy soul, whether that is another person or just myself.

Like I said, I have yet to find such a person, but I have been blessed to meet many incredible men in my life, just not one that encompasses everything I am looking for. Until then I will continue to be vulnerable and love in other ways.

So I suppose we better come back to the present now, to this little bagel shop in Brooklyn. Since those words above were written I have pushed my limits further, struggled harder, and experienced more than I ever have before. And what comes out of all this is a clearer picture than ever of the woman I want to be and the life I want to live. I want to be a woman of integrity and strength. A woman who loves without inhibition and who steps out bravely in all aspects of her life.

I am here, now. Not anywhere else and I am learning to have a profound peacefulness for the moment. With that being said, I have also come to the realization that I need to fully embrace this nomadic lifestyle until it stops serving me until I don’t find pleasure in it anymore. And it will. I never thought I would be someone who could be content with settling down, and maybe I am not, but I think this path I am on, this life I am living will provide me with those answers beyond a shadow of a doubt.

So there you go. Words on a page. Now I will leave you with some music that has had my heart these past 6 weeks. Live long and prosper. xx

Erica
More about Erica

Californian living in the UK. Erica is currently pursuing her PhD in Historical Geography at the University of Sussex. She is a writer and a researcher, a dirtbag and an explorer. Heart of the Nomad is her creative space to contemplate the complexities of life and share pictures and videos from adventures.

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