Well, it was almost a year. 10 full months was an accident, really. After all, you’d returned to the United States in February of 2010, anticipating a road trip, a nice summer in Seattle, and a subsequent move to San Francisco. But something happened: it was a combination of stress, youth, and the travel itch.
People have asked you on a number of occasions why you have traveled so long. How did you decide to keep it up as long as you did?
“I didn’t choose to travel this long,” you’d reply. “Travel chose me.”
You’d go on to explain that it was really a matter of incentive. You simply lacked an incentive to stay in one place. You were young (still are, though the fear of aging creeps in, as it does with women), with great health, enough money, no responsibilities, no house, no bills, no kids, no pets. Nothing to worry about. Furthermore, it is actually cheaper to travel than it is to say in one place and work.
But your lack of incentive wasn’t the only reason you went back to travel. Admittedly, you were under stress, feeling restless, and insecure about your own commitment issues. You left the country with a goal, which was to learn to travel on your own–to find some kind of peace, contentment with yourself. And what happened? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
Ten months of parties, pubs, drinks and drugs, social smoking; of cooking, cleaning, tidying, and tedium; of hitching, hiking, camping, crashing, and cycling through the rhythms of being constantly on the move; of reading, researching, noting, learning, exploring; of talking, laughing, telling stories…
Your year in review: you…
1) Learned the value of a month of decompressing with parties, good friends, movies, and intellectually passive activities. Most people call that a vacation.
2) Re-discovered your passion for whole foods nutrition, health, and wellness, and broadened your horizons as health professional by networking with people in the wellness industry.
3) Experienced profound loneliness, and learned you do not have the courage to face yourself.
4) Entered your personal hell, and met face to face with your inner child–a life altering experience. A traumatic experience. A truncated experience. Unfinished. A most humbling experience.
5) Endured the 7-week Trip of Sexual Harassment, and learned the extent of your tolerance, your passiveness, your indignation.
6) Lost it. Totally. This episode went undocumented, but you feel as though ayahuasca belatedly finished its course. It rendered you a trembling, sputtering, frenetic, anxious, swollen-eyed, hollow train wreck. All the gains you had made seemed to have blinked out of existence, and you stared down a version of your former self, terrified of her possibilities.
7) Found your appetite again. For food, for life, for possibilities, for independence. You threw yourself head first into your passions, new goals, and plans. It all began with diet, exercise, and sunshine. With no-stress, enriching occupations.
8) Had an exceptional trip with one of your best friends, and learned, to a fuller extent, how good, how generous, how trusting people can be. In effect, you became a better, more generous, more trusting person.
9) Felt content alone, with yourself, despite knowing the demands of your high levels of extroversion, which lead you to draw your energy from other people.
10) Began to understand, to believe the positive opinions people have of you.*
You are calmer, wiser, more experienced. A better judge of character. More social, more fearless. More excited, more animated, more congenial. More flexible, easy-going, less controlling, less competitive, less insecure. You are quite happy, extremely satisfied with the lessons you have learned in the past year. You have a better understanding of both your strengths and weaknesses. Of your merits and shortcomings. You can look at yourself with self-deprecating humor, with lightness, with patience, and forgiveness.
You get back what you give. Something you firmly believe. What surprised you was the amount of positive feedback you received from others, the impressions you left.
*straight forward with her opinions and is absolutely down to earth. She shares so much of herself and her experience… was quite out of the box experience for me. a different way of life, out of the back pack…fascinated how i have a feeling like i now her for months, even though we met twice…I found her to be a very engaging interlocutor and you are bound to have fun in her company.All in all, a smart, generous and easygoing person with a very special and positive set of values…open minded, open hearted and friendly from the word go, we found it very easy to chat and have a laugh…If there’s anything more valuable in life than finding someone with whom you can discuss morality one minute, spill your heart out the next, then bring your day to a close doubling over in laughter after exchanging hilariously embarrassing stories.. well, I want to know what that is. If you’re a bit of a bullshitter at heart or if you dislike sincerity when truth is uncomfortable, you may want to think twice. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and get to know someone exceptional in every possible sense of the word. …She is an observer of human soul and behaviour,traveling around for years…What struck me at this girl is her desire to experience and listen…Her way of life really impressed me; it’s a real challenge to today’s highly capitalistic world….she ıs good talker and nıce lıstener…What a charakter, what a force of nature! Maria is a restless traveller, rich in stories and inspiration. She is sharing all she carries inside with her couchsurfers and the couchsurfers friends. Once we started talking, we just couldn’t stop. Maria covers the whole range of emotions, as she can be very funny and also knows well about the sad places in peoples minds. After we parted, I needed a long time to recover from this intense encounter – in a positive way, of course! 😀 Don’t forget to rest sometimes, Maira, to let all your millions impressions settle down. I wish you all the best for your pilgrimage to yourself….lovely and interesting girl with her amusing tests for life…Meeting and getting to know Maria was really a unique good experience, she made me think in a different way about life…I got to hand it to this inspiring girl…You are pretty loveable yourself – never forget that. Life is a journey, one step at a time.
You would like to thank everyone for their kind words, for the time they shared–and parts of themselves; for granting you opportunities to learn, to reflect, to grow, and to believe that you get back what you give.