No Hair, New Me: What I learned from running away to an island
For years, I had promised my college friend Nerelle that I would visit her in American Samoa. After years of saying “maybe one day”, I took the plunge and hopped on a plane in late May.
I thought it was going to be like any of my other trips — I’d work during the day and explore the area in the evenings and weekends. Instead, I was in for the trip that would finally jolt me out of my shell.
The internet connection on the island is, well, crap to begin with. On top of that, Nerelle’s home internet was having issues which meant it cut out sporadically. Instead of going into my regular routine of staring at my computer all day, I was left to my own devices (pun) and away from social media.
I’ve been doing the same exact thing ever since I graduated four years ago. Working on a lot of client projects that aren’t impactful in the world, being addicted to social media and always having content streaming into my eyeballs, and not learning anything new. It’s been that way for years. I knew that something was wrong and that I was discontent, but I had never spent the time to sit down and figure it out. I always felt like I needed to be by my computer to be ‘working’ and ‘hustling.’
We took a 30-minute plane ride to Samoa and spent four days there without any internet connection — no wifi, no cell reception, no anything. It was the first time in ten years that I was away from the digital world for that long.
The first day was filled with some unusual anxiety as my brain adapted to having … actual thoughts. But it started to feel quite free. I was having creative thoughts that I hadn’t experienced since middle school. I was questioning even the simplest of things in nature and going down beautiful avenues of inquiry that I missed. Disagreements over drinks couldn’t be solved with a quick Google — we actually had to back up what we were saying by ourselves! Such a different world.
I had never been snorkeling before. Shortly after arriving in American Samoa, we paddleboarded out into the ocean and got ready to snorkel. Fear started to set in. What’s below me right now? Do I really want to be in the water in the middle of the ocean? Are there sharks?? I prepared to tell Nerelle that I’d be paddling back and see her back at the shore… then a wave of confidence pushed out the fear.
I threw on the snorkel mask and enjoyed what was the most beautiful view of fish and coral.
In Samoa, we went to Papaseea Sliding Rock which sent off all the ‘danger danger!’ alarm bells in my head at first. One wrong move and you’ll hit your head!
Again, I hesitated at first. But after the first three-foot drop into a pool of water that came with a side of smiles, I knew I had to go for the bigger drops. I ended up taking the 15-foot drop into the huge pool and felt a huge wave of accomplishment come over me. That was the moment I became enamored with the feeling of being stronger and louder than the fear inside me.
Here’s a video of the trip from my Spectacles & some more photos:
Without an internet connection to fill up every minute of my time, I found my journal filling up day after day. Thoughts. Creativity. Emotions. Realizations.
The realization that I have been addicted to staring at social media or watching some sort of content in order to fill up my time, rather than journaling, reading, working out, or doing anything that betters myself.
The realization that I have been discontent with my job for quite some time. This partly drove the recent breakup with my business partner. I want to work on projects that I’m passionate about and with clients that are truly passionate about their businesses.
The realization that I am an actor. I’ve been stealthily going to acting classes for the past year and was the lead in a short film, but have always hesitated to call myself an actor and say that it’s more than just a hobby. No more — I am an actor.
The realization that I can live a life of passion by spending every minute doing what I care about rather and being insanely strict about that.
When I returned back to LA, the first couple of weeks were quite rough. I felt like I had finally ‘woken up’ from a four-year slumber. I had wasted many years, what the heck have I been doing? How can I go back in time? How could I have done this to myself?
It took some time, but I’m doing better now. I know that I can’t go back in time, I can’t spend any more time wallowing in regret and disappointment. I can only move forward and appreciate that I’m only 24 and could have spent my entire life in that trance.
I whipped out my violin for the first time in ten years. I’ve been reading books! I booked a part in a short play. I’m taking action.
“The best is yet to come”
To signify the change and remind myself daily that I am now a new person, I shaved my head.
I shaved my head because I wanted to prove that even though the island trip is over, I can still conquer my fears.
I will worry less about short-term financial gain and focus more on personal development, learning experiences, and passion projects.
I will cut out things that don’t make me a better person.
My hair was thinning, anyway……. 😏