Learning to Become Yourself Again Through Travel


By Carmen Schaffer, Viva la Vida Travel

There are a lot of us, myself included, who are going through major life changes and wonder what on earth we are all about. How did we manage to lose ourselves while trying to create a life? Who am I anymore? Am I just a machine who robotically cooks dinner, washes clothes, scrubs toilets and tends to the family's needs? How is it that we became so disconnected from our very own selves?

I'm sure you've pondered such questions and have come up either blank or with a myriad of answers that you've ruminated on over and over again in your mind yet they still didn't manage to relieve your angst.

As parents, whether we be single or married, it's very easy to let ourselves dissolve into the needs of those who depend on us; our children need us, our spouses need us, our jobs need us, everyone needs us. What we tend to neglect the most in our rat race lives is the very entity that gets us through our days : our very own selves.

We forget what we love to do. We forget what inspires us and makes us feel alive. We simply feel like another face in the crowd . We feel lost, disconnected, withdrawn and lifeless. Our relationships fall apart and we begin to feel hopeless and machine-like in life. All of these things are devastating consequences of not paying attention to our inner calling and to what makes our hearts happy.

Let me tell you about finding yourself. Let me tell you how to find you again.

I recently came back from a 12 day trip to Peru and I'll have to tell you that it was life changing. I've traveled all throughout Latin America and I feel a deep connection to all things Latin-based but this trip to Peru left me with a feeling that I couldn't put a finger on. Aside from the breathtaking and humbling Andes mountains and the ever impressive Machu Picchu, the essence of the Peruvian people and the richness of it's culture filled my soul. I sat on top of Machu Picchu and marveled at the remains of an ancient civilization that lived and thrived there and wondered how they could have possibly done it all with the little that they had available to them. I felt inspired imagining the work and diligence it took the Incan people to create a thriving community built by hand. I vowed I would never complain again about the mundane chores I have to do in my suburban Minnesota home because it paled in comparison to what the Incan people had to do and still do to live their lives.

As I traveled throughout Peru, I felt a change within me. The best way to describe it is really a softening of my soul. I became less agitated by little things. I noticed the way the clouds drifted over and through the mountains. I stopped to pet the myriad of dogs and cats wandering in the streets. I tried new foods. I climbed mountains and didn't complain. I laughed and I even cried. I felt a patience inside myself not only for the world around me but within myself and I couldn't understand it given what my "reality" back home looked like. Given how stressful my world was on the home front, you'd think I would still carry that with me, but I didn't. I let it go. I chose to be in the moment.

Upon my return from Peru, the change that had occurred within me continued. My reality hadn't changed but my attitude changed. I began to feel empowered by what I alone can do. I began to embrace the softening of my soul and not reject it thinking it was a form of weakness. I'll admit it, I'm seeing a therapist to help me get through life and help make sense of it all. I explained this change within me to my therapist and tried to come to an understanding of what it all meant to who I was and what I was all about. This was her response, " Who you were in Peru is who you are now. You are the same person there as you are here. Yes, you have more stressors here. Yes, you have life's responsibilities to attend to but you are still the exact same person you were on top of Machu Picchu. You are a person filled with wonder. You are moved by the natural world. You are a generous soul who cares about those around you. You are curious and adventurous. That is who you are."

It seems like too simple of an answer to the big question, "Who am I anymore?" but truth be told, who you are in your moments of delight, sadness, and inspiration is exactly who you are right now. It's easier to embrace our joys while traveling but really what we are embracing is our true self ~ not to be disguised as the vacationing version of ourselves because truth be told, we are one in the same, the only difference being we ARE on vacation.

Sometimes we really have to step out of our situation to realize just who and what we are. There is no plan to find oneself in traveling, it simply happens. It happens in the quiet moments of reflection in a beautiful setting and it happens in crowds of people where we feel overwhelmed and stressed out. It's difficult to pay attention to ourselves when we are trying our best to get through life but if you ask me, getting through life is not enough. Getting through life is not a life well-lived. Understanding what makes you tick and what brings you joy will help you navigate your daily lives with less anxiety, more patience and a more fulfilled sense of being. Trust me on this. It's not an easy road but when the softening of the soul happens, you'll understand that you're becoming the you that you have always been and perhaps a much richer version of that person.

Traveling has such an immense power to change our lives. It gives us perspective, hope,it fuels our curiosity and drives us to do and learn more about what's around the next corner, not only on our travels but in our daily life.

Here's to you, my friends and here's to the travels that help you find you again.

Viva la Vida!

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Travel Ambassador at Viva la Vida Travel
I am a mother of two boys, an owner of one dog and two cats. I am feverishly passionate about all things related to travel. Inspiring others inspires me.
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