El Camino de Santiago- Hit the pause button
In 2014, I walked the Camino de Santiago.
After all my long school years the sudden freedom of adulthood shocked me and I was confused. It was a great time to start this journey which is so mysterious and exotic to all the busy and hard-working people.
I experienced that- although I was one of the youngest “pilgrims” there- lots of young people do at least one part of the pilgrimage.
So do even more who feel stuck in their lives and cannot find an escape.
I encourage everybody to challenge themselves with this journey; learn and experience.
Sometimes you don’t feel completely at home even when you grew up there.
Sometimes things simply don’t go as you want them to.
I was born in Budapest, Hungary and I lived there for 20 years. I lived a normal life as a child, then I decided to go to a quite prestigious but ordinary middle school since I was struggling to find the “dream job” I wanted to pursue. In Hungary, these schools give an insight into all the different subjects, so they attempt to give a quite broad perspective. With all this they are supposed to help you to decide which careerpath is more appealing than the others.
Despite all of their efforts, I just became more confused. While most of my friends applied for a university, I did not even fill out the application forms. While they fought for the best final-exam grades, I tried to maintain the illusion of studying but actually could not wait until the end of the examination period. I had no concrete goal to achieve and without one it is a real pain to concentrate.
After 4 years I left the school that gave me the illusion of directions and guidelines. I have never blamed my school or my teachers, they had done everything they could. Still, when I finally experienced freedom after 12 years of the “ prison” of school, I felt insecure. I would describe this feeling as how somebody who just got released after 12 years of imprisonment feels. ( At least this is what I have seen in the movies:)) He cannot find his role in the community, he got used to the rules where he spent 12 years of his life, he got used to the food there, he got used to everything there. He is not used to the fact that he is free and there are no limitations any more. This is exactly how I felt after 12 years of school-time.
I had lived in the unreality that by the end of these 12 years everything would be crystal clear.
I had no idea what to do with myself and my time. My parents did not force me to make myself useful and find a job so I followed the Principle of least resistance. I did not see the importance of work. I sank into idleness and it was not easy to stand up from there.
In the end of June of 2014 I returned from a music festival with my friends and despite the fact that I enjoyed spending that time with them and it was fun I felt that it was not what I needed.
I wanted to secure some time to be alone with my thoughts and reevaluate my life and my priorities. This thought led me to an old memory:
My step-father accomplished the Camino de Santiago in 2008 when I was 13 years old.It seemed to be an extreme and exotic thing to do for me and I had never thought that I would ever do something similar…. The next thing I knew I was in a hiking store and was about to obtain all the necessities for my journey in Spain.
Yes, it was the Camino de Santiago.
Even today I still struggle to recall how I came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to have a go at this thing. .It is never cheap to travel to a foreign county, even if you don’t look for luxury and comfort. I still remember thinking that while one of my friends had been saving money for his first car, I spent all my money ( my pocket-money from my mom) on this crazy trip.
It seemed to be an insane conception but it somehow felt right.
I was on my way to Spain with my 10 kilo backpack and in my brand new boots 850 kilometers were waiting for me.
I am not going to go into details in this post but it was a massive lesson in my life about my limits, about spirituality and about everything I had known before. It changed my life-perception and it was the most intense 35 days of my life. It is not representative to say that “without this experience I wouldn’t be the person I am today” because that is true of all the life experiences, right? As all the people know that “ all your life experiences together make you who you are”.
But this was a bit different.
I had moments of sadness, laughter and rage, I went through the whole scale of emotions. I had the chance to meet amazing people whose life stories fascinated me. I might write about these experiences later.
It was an amazing time to get away and challenge myself this way. This experience can help anybody become more aware of themselves, connect with the nature, make a few great friends or just think about their lives from a different perspective.
Some people do the Camino not only once but as many times as they feel that they need it.
It can give you something fresh and something unexpected every time.