Most of us have a bucket list. You know, the list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. If you are like me, you list includes things like, “Visit all 50 states”, “Go skydiving”, “Complete a triathlon”etc. etc. I recently realized there is something I’ve done, that should have been on my list all along, but wasn’t. In fact, I am of the opinion that it should be on everyone’s list.
* Go soul searching alone.
I’ve always considered myself to be pretty independent. I’d flirted with the idea of soul searching before. I’ve signed up to spend the summer across the country (with my boyfriend) in the mountains of New York teaching kids how to climb rock walls. I’ve flown across the world (with one of my best friends) for an internship in London. But it wasn’t until, I left my family and friends a year and a half ago (alone), for a job in a place I hardly knew, that I stumbled upon my own soul search.
When I left Arizona, I thought I was getting away from the troubles of my past. I thought I was going to spend a couple months finding my feet and then be reunited with my boyfriend and live happily Californian ever after. Things didn’t go as planned.
It was much harder than I expected. For the first time in my life, I was really on my own. I was lost all the time and not just figuratively, but literally. After one particularly irritating experience trying to find a bank I had a total meltdown in a parking lot. I found solace with sand between my toes, but adjusting to life without family and friends was a challenge. I moved in with a stranger and soon my boyfriend and I broke up. I was fighting the feeling that my move was a mistake.
One Sunday, after crying in my bed for about 2 hours straight, I forced myself to go get lunch and then go see a movie… alone. Slowly but surely I started to enjoy experiencing things alone. I loved spending my weekends on the beach reading a book. I loved going on little adventures to the Hollywood Sign or Santa Monica. Being alone forced me to build new friendships and strengthen the ones that were important to me. For the first time in my life, I built confidence in my work. But most importantly, I got to know myself without anyone’s influence.
My California Adventure
Sometimes the deafening silence revealed such booming clarity. Sometimes, it just felt lonely. As I look back over the last 18 months and ahead to my departure in 2 weeks, I can’t help but feel like this was a monumental chapter in my life. For far too long I felt like I was struggling to move forward. Crawling. California has allowed me to get back on my feet and in many ways, it’s allowed me to fly.
I finally feel like I know what’s important to me. I know who is important to me too. My perspective has changed. My world has become so much brighter. I see the beauty in things that for a while seemed so boring. Most importantly, one thing has become abundantly clear: It’s not where you live your life, but who you live it with.
So I beg you, add soul searching alone to your bucket list. Maybe that means take a big risk like moving to a new place. Maybe it’s going on a vacation solo. Maybe it’s just carving out time for yourself each week. Whatever it is, make it a goal to get to know who you are when no one is looking. I promise you, you won’t regret it!