plus minus

A lot of my frustrations come from observing. I am an observer and sometimes it’s a really hard role to play in life. Always feeling a little on the outside, always feeling a little out of the moment.

So far this trip has been like that for me. I’m sure part of it is the deep rooted belief that I don’t belong, that a trip of this magnitude or the greatest experiences are not for me. Which is a horrible thing to believe. Especially since it’s not particularly true. Some people would kill for some of the experiences that I have had, whereas they are simply a part of my life and nothing special from my perspective.

I live in a hostel, which is more like a big share house. I have seen many go, few come and go and what seems like even fewer stick around. These others have been on their trips for years and months, a lot longer than my 2 months abroad. It is hard for me to be here, starting to build a life, a group of friends, a sense of belonging while others are moving on to their next phase and greener pastures.

Ultimately, it was just timing for me and for them. However, it is still difficult to watch these people who have built what feels like a close-knit group move on. The dream of Australia seems quite often the same: sunny, beaches, money, travel. This group has been a prime example of that, but I don’t think anyone expected to work as hard as they have to get that. We all have jobs that demand a lot of time and some physical labor. The good news is we all know it’s temporary, which is probably the only saving grace.

My current Australia is not what my vision was. Now the two are starting to merge where I forget what I hoped and expected it to be and am starting to embrace what is here in front of me. Moments of happiness breeze by, nights of TV watching and bullshitting happen, nights of drunken debauchery happen, early mornings and doubles at work happen, trying to adjust to everything Australian happens.

I forget that I am free. I forget that I worked hard for 7 months to get myself to Australia and now that I am here I can do whatever I want. I forget that I don’t have to have thousands and thousands of dollars to make a move, I just have to have enough to have a plan and then go.

After all the horrible advice I’ve received which is generally “you don’t need to travel because wherever you go – there you are” I realize how important it is to travel. I’m in such a thick pile of shit right now, that I’m blinding myself from the beauty of living. I live in Oz but have the same life as I did as an American, because I haven’t changed much. Turns out I still have body issues in Melbourne as much as I did in Chicago. Moving 10,000 miles away didn’t make me skinny.

At home, you have ranks. You know where you fall in on a social scale. You know your worth compared to others. Meaning at work you know where your qualifications should get you, you know when you fancy someone if they’re in the same league as you or not. This is not a science, this is just social norm. We all do it, rank ourselves against others.

So when you travel all bets are off. You are a victim to circumstance and chance. You may get shitty weather, you may have amazing hostel roommates, you may have a holiday romance or you may spend the entire trip looking for someone who relates to you. There’s no definite.

I have been frustrated here when I’ve tried to like a guy and he doesn’t like me the same way, or when the guys at the hostel consistently talk about females like they were just objects to be admired and rated. It builds when I realize I am seen as one of the guys instead of a 29-year-old woman. I’ve reverted back to not giving a shit and smoking, drinking and eating like none of this counts. Then I wake up in the morning and don’t feel fulfilled and wonder why.

My struggle hasn’t stopped since I moved, it just changed. Now I get it. “Australia: The Year” is not a beach holiday, it’s incorporating everything I’ve learned in a brand new setting. It’s understanding that if a guy doesn’t like me, that’s his loss and if I’m just one of the boys, I’m going to be the womanliest boy around!

“The people who happen to be around you are not reflections of you” necessarily, is what I’m learning. It’s even more isolating to think that because then you realize that every person is on their own and as much as we naturally want to anchor to one another, we can’t. That is putting ourselves at risk of being disappointed, hurt or heartbroken by someone. That is not power, that is foolishness.

I need to do what I need to do – be healthy, take care of me, put myself first, be kind to others so I don’t carry the burden of their problems. I observe people being content with life because they accept it point-blank. Unfortunately, I have never been able to do that. Call it the way I was wired, but there is a nagging for more, for substance. It saddens my heart when I see people living small and not wanting anything more out of life except money (which they see as freedom) or some sort of material possessions to lullaby them back into submissive obedience.

<sighs to self>

But you don’t think you’re a robot do you? You think you’re conscious of your decisions and that there’s nothing else but the way it is. You feel slighted and aggravated when a person bumps into you on the train or your coffee took 3 minutes too long at starbucks. You think sharing a post on facebook about the missing girls in Nigeria is taking political action.

Maybe my frustration comes from not knowing how to be the person I want. Or, knowing but just not being because I’m lazy and it’s easier to write and point the finger at what is wrong, and what I don’t like rather than leading by a consistent example.

Maybe that’s why I hate so many of you, because I am just like so many of you.
A part of me can’t wait to die so that I will finally know what happens on the other side and why we do this. What I don’t want is to spend my life worrying or waiting for death. That’s the one guarantee we get in life is that it will happen to all of us. The choice is what we do in the masked amount of time we get in between the beginning and the end.

The chance to write our own stories, and be our own heroes. The chance to be the villan or the princess, the nice guy who finishes last or the one who waits until the last page to realize life is not only worth living for, but fighting for.

One thought on “plus minus

  1. Wow! You are so self-aware, strong, and courageous! My friend Jerilyn told me about your adventure – and blog – and you are so on target about the value of traveling and being ‘awake’ in your life. You’re so right – so few people have the courage to take off and explore their inner/outer worlds – so like I always say luxuriate in the ups and (especially) the downs. Looking forward to reading more about your journey. (and as a post-menopausal spinster I’m about to go off on a new life-long journey to live life to the fullest for all the same reasons – there is so much more to life!)

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