I didn’t come to New Zealand to ‘find myself’ per se. This was not a personal journey where I wanted to learn how to be a better human – that just happened to be a little bonus feature to this whole adventure.
I have learned a fuck ton of things about myself that I never knew before. Or perhaps I knew, but never admitted to myself. And in most cases, these have all been pretty unexpected realizations.
I expected to touch down in New Zealand and immediately become a better person. To grow my hair long and wild and love every single person I met. To embrace my free spirit and never go a day without dancing atop a mountain; to become soo hippie and zen and stop obsessing over time once and for all. I truly thought all of my best qualities would skyrocket and all of my worst ones would diminish. But in these 99 days, what I’ve learned is this:
I’m actually kind of a bitch.
Or perhaps a better way of saying that is in my 27 years on earth, I’ve become much more selective when it comes to who I want to spend time with.
I have met a lot of amazing, wonderful people on this trip – many of whom I truly feel came into my life for a reason; who comforted my soul and inspired me and got me so stoked about life.
But I have met an equal number of people I didn’t like. And this was something I wasn’t expecting. I thought I would be incredibly open-minded and eager to talk to everyone. I thought everyone would feel this way about me, too. But this hasn’t been the case, which I’m very okay with for one main reason:
When you’re travelling alone, you’re in a bit of an extreme, people-overload situation, and this makes you insanely aware of who you enjoy being around and who you don’t. It becomes obvious very quickly who you crave your alone time around and who has the opposite effect, and you just kind of accept this and forget how to fake it when you don’t want to. So yeah, I think 50% of the people I’ve met have probably written me off as “that bitch in the corner.” And a lot of them have probably been right.
And yes, saying that being around someone makes you crave alone time sounds a bit harsh. But everyone’s thinking it. I have had this effect on a lot of people. Maybe they’re coming off a four-day hike or are so sick of moving and have valued sleep or a phone call home way more than they would have appreciated me at the time. And that’s absolutely okay. You don’t have to talk to everyone and bond with everyone and always have that ‘travelling’ mindset. Sometimes you can just be; feel how you feel and shut off when you need to shut off. And the thing is, when you let yourself be, that is when you really find those people you were meant to meet along the way, which leads me to my next point:
I’m not that interesting.
I hate to admit this, but I think I expected everyone I met to think I was insanely cool. To think I was the most badass, city girl gone wilderness. And yeah, I am pretty cool. But I’m no cooler than anyone else here. And this became apparent to me after the 100th time of telling someone I was trying to write a book (I mean, after they asked what I was doing here. It’s not like I just went around whispering my bookish dreams in strangers’ ears). But after the 100th time of telling someone that and them having literally zero reaction, it became quite clear that I was not doing anything more notable than anyone else. Everyone is doing something. Trying something or figuring shit out or just letting themselves live a different life for a bit. Everyone’s dreaming of something and missing someone and stressing about their own bank account. Nobody gives a shit about my dreams or who I’m missing or how much money I have left. And that’s fine! Beautiful, really, that all of these people have fallen together to do their own interesting thing.
Furthermore, I am like, the sole person in NZ who only speaks one language, and how sad is that? I’m really not that interesting. Speaking of which:
I know shockingly little about my own country.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me a question about Canada and my response was, “This is so embarrassing but I actually have no idea,” – well, I could have flown around the world fifteen times. First class, at that. And sure, I know I’m a smart person in many other ways, but fuck. I am committing to educating myself when I get home because this is actually ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous:
I always knew I was scared of an unnecessary number of things: snakes and fish and crossing the street and walking past chain link fences, because I have this bizarre fear that my ear is going to get caught and yanked out of my head. But I really thought I would come here and be all independent and brave and unstoppable. Even I can’t believe how afraid and irrational I have been in so many different situations. The other day this girl asked me to put cream on her new back tattoo because she was travelling alone and couldn’t reach it, and I was like yeah girl, I got you. But then as soon as I started following her into the bathroom I got very paranoid that she was luring me into the stall to stab me, so I just kind of bailed. Which is a) extremely rude and b) extremely embarrassing.
So yes, I have been surprised by what I’ve learned about myself. By who it seems I really am. But like, I’m into it. I have never felt so free to just be whoever that happened to be – even if it isn’t as great as I was expecting. I don’t feel the need to overcompensate. I don’t feel the need to hide my flaws (I mean, yes. It’s not okay to just be a bitch, but it’s okay to understand what makes you feel that way and to find your own ways to deal with that.) I feel like I’m in a space where I’m able to accept when I’m sad and crazy and insecure without finding an excuse. And if nothing else, that has made this entire trip worthwhile.
Overall, I feel proud. I feel excited. And I feel guilty for bailing on that kind, innocent person in the bathroom.
Sorry girl. Imma work on that.