I Think I Caught My Vibe, I Think I Found My Wave
6 months into traveling non-stop and ish gets real. People are dropping out, you are comparing experiences in one country/continent to another, and the people, culture, and living conditions from one place to the next are drastically different. At first you love the stark contrast and then, for some unknown reason, you are overwhelmed with strong disdain for all things *insert preferred country here*. From there, internal conflict sets in as a spiraling train of runaway thoughts floods your mind. Do I even like it here? Do I keep going? Should I just go back to Asia? I know fasho I ain’t going back to the States. Where do I belong?
Step by Step: Lisboa
At the moment I find myself in Lisbon, Portugal. Aesthetically, Lisbon is one of the most gorgeously architected cities that I have ever seen. Concrete hills riddled with narrow streets, the city vibrates color, sketched with sporadic whiffs of life. Practically however, I’m positive that if gravity and physics allowed for it, they would slab streets of paved stairways up and along the sides of buildings. It isn’t the most enjoyable city to walk long distances. Hills are great to look at, not so great to traverse, especially when those hills turn into steps. Furthermore, the fact that I have to turn sideways while on the sidewalk to let a car pass is problematic. Yet there is always a thin line between love and hate, and I must say, I’ve arrived on the side of love for Lisbon — despite it involving an undesirable amount of stairs to get here.
The city has a San Franciscoesqe appeal to it, or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that San Fran borrowed some tips from Lisboa, as it is considered the oldest city in Western Europe. But what I have enjoyed most about Lisbon is that it has provided me with clear air and clear mind to self-reflect on the past 5 or 6 months. But like what usually happens when people start thinking existentially about their life, self-reflection becomes self-loathing, and remnant thoughts of life prior to leaving the good ole U.S. of A. start to creep in.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Gram
You start taking that scroll of shame through the Instagrams and Facebooks of the people who you know back home. It then dawns on you that people’s lives goes on with or without you present. Your friends graduate, they get married, and some even have kids. Nieces have birthdays and you are the only uncle that didn’t show up, parents begin to call less and less, and team members forget that you are attending meetings virtually -_- . Amid the constant stimulus of traveling, everyone else seems to become numb to you being gone, and it lowkey (real lowkey cuz I ain’t no punk) stings.
The culmination of what essentially is unwarranted wallowing in self-pity happened for me while I was unnecessarily informed that my ex had gotten into law school (congrats, you’ll do great and you’ll be great). I caught myself saying out loud “what the hell am I doing in Lisbon, Portugal right now?” as a pigeon strutted across my balcony, stopped, and I kid you not, looked at me as if he wanted to check my passport for proper documentation.
The only other time I’ve asked myself this question was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia — and let’s be real…that’s only because it was Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This past year I have found myself in peculiar and unexpected situations but most of me believes that’s the beauty of life — or at least the one that I am leading. It’s important to emphasize this…the life I am leading. My choices. My consequences. This is what keeps me going and committed to traveling. I didn’t start traveling for other’s approval or admiration, so why start seeking it now?
But through this literal roller coaster of takeoffs and landings (highs and lows for my peeps who struggled with the SAT analogies section), I have grown to appreciate what the world is teaching me. That living in the moment is okay, and the impulsive decisions that get me there are admissible. I’d like to impart the same mentality to you as well. I’ve had people who I’ve learned to call close friends, pack up their things and move back to a country where they found love and a lifestyle that they cherished, despite what others may think. That is 100% okay. I’ve had other friends who have quit Remote Year but still shadow the group — it’s kinda weird, but hey…that’s 100% okay too. Get a life that you aren’t ashamed to lead, find your vibes, and skate on the ‘BS’ that is other people’s — haters essentially, if I am not being euphemistic — opinions.
Baba Moments: No Swag, No Surf
Speaking of ending up in peculiar and unexpected situations, I decided to try my hand at surfing off of the coast of Portugal in a area called Cascais. Shit was rough. Real rough. But this post is already hella long so I will spare the details. However, I didn’t die which essentially was my goal. Shoutout to the dope people below who may or may not have enjoyed the experience as much as I did.