Best of 2009: Life is Such a Wonderful Challenge

This post is part of the Best of 2009 series, hosted by Gwen Bell.

Best Challenge: Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

I sat in the train station in Copenhagen and had a moment of realization. A BIG moment of realization. I was all by myself for the next couple months and it was up to me, and only me, to make sure I got to the end of it in one piece. I had to make the travel plans, I had to figure out where I was staying each night, I had to figure out breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had to do this all on my own.

Its not like I hadn’t lived on my own for nearly 10 years, six of those in New York City. I was used to taking care of myself. So what was the big deal?

Yet my heart was racing and I was almost regretting my decision not to go to Iceland with my dad and brother. I stood in the middle of the train station, where no one spoke a word of english around me, announcements going off here and there and I was all by myself, whether I liked it or not. I was doing this.

I’ve had a few challenges this year; trying not to commit homicide on a horrific coworker and an unappreciative boss, moving in with my parents, quitting my job. By far the best, and most rewarding though was setting off on my travels by myself, without set plans.

For the most part, I didn’t know where I would be the next week, or sometimes even the next day. While this kind of freedom scared me, I also loved it. I loved being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and I didn’t have to consult with a travel companion. If I wanted to stay in another city for a week instead of the two days initially scheduled, I could do it. .

When I found myself in sticky situations, like when I was in Scotland and a guy showed up at my hostel saying he had a message for me and proceeded to freak me the fuck out, I was the one who had to make the decision to leave early for the sake of my own safety. I had to look out for me.

I was happy when I did have someone to travel with, even if it was the same guy who freaked me out in Scotland, and happy to hike through the mountains by myself, taking in the gorgeous surroundings with just my camera to experience it with me. All that alone time allowed for a lot of soul searching and taking deep breaths and just being. It was the best learning experience not only for who I am and what I can handle, but of who I wanted to be when I came back to reality.

Now I’m faced with a new challenge: living with my parents and figuring out my next steps in life. Is it to return to Europe to continue traveling? Is it getting a real job now and staying in Michigan for longer? Or do I move to a new city and get a job there? The world is my oyster and I can do whatever I want.

Isn’t life such a wonderful challenge?

4 Responses

  1. just thinking…maybe you should look abroad for employment. while it won’t be so glamorous, you might look into being an au pair (Norway has a special permit for it) or trying out the cultural experience permits where you live some place for 6 months. just ideas…because you’ve got the world and nothing is making you stay in michigan. 🙂

  2. This post makes me incredibly happy for you and all the possibilities that await you in the future.

  3. this sounds like such an amazing trip for you in a gazillion ways!

    also? i like that it’s snowing on your blog in front of the ocean 😉

  4. I must say I’m pretty jealous of the traveling you got to experience. It is a dream of mine to backpack through Europe but I just don’t think I have the balls to do it!!

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