Soundtrack: Castle on the hill – Edd Sheeran
Found my heart and broke it here,
Made friends end lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home,
Oh, I am on my way…
As I get home after being away for exactly six months, it is time for me to look back on the year that just past. 2017 is coming to an end and with it the first major solo journey of my life. I come home around Christmas time so life is still pretty busy and there isn’t a lot of time for me to take a breath and look back at everything that I have experienced over the last year. Simultaneously, even though now would be the perfect time to think about the future and decide where I want it to lead me, I find myself caught in the storm of family gatherings, present hunting, food feasting, partying and I don’t have much time for anything else. Additionally, I still find it a bit hard to process everything that occurred, for the most part it still seems a bit unrealistic and quite emotional and even though I truly want to do some introspection, I don’t quite know where to start.
When my mum picks me up at the airport and drives me home, I am already quite exhausted by my journey, yet, I take time to catch up with both her and my dad. We haven’t seen each other in 6 months and there is so much to say really. I stay up until midnight, trying to tell them as many stories as I can. We have dinner together and stay at the table a few hours after that. The next day, for the first time in my life I believe, I wake up at 5pm. Since it is winter here, the sun is already setting. I am missed the whole day. It is such a strange feeling. It takes me a few days to get back on European time and adjust to winter time and weather but very soon, Christmas eve is here and it is time for us to celebrate with our entire family. We all gather at our grandmother’s house: parents, brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts, almost every one is here, except Marine, who had to stay in Florida. Christmas comes and goes without any noticeable happening and soon New Year’s eve is around the corner. I have been home for so little time that I feel I haven’t really had time to anticipate these celebrations as I normally do. I don’t have any New Year’s plans and if I am honest I also don’t really feel like celebrating that much. I have had a really full year and in a way I don’t really feel the need to add anything else to it. Luckily for me, I get sick a few days before so I have an excuse to stay home and do nothing.
My parents, their friends and I drive to our holiday house in Spain a few days before. And while they go out to party on New Years Eve, I stay home and relax and go to bed early. We spend a week there to start the New Year, relaxing, taking it slow and enjoying the particularly warm weather for that time of year. I know that when I get home from Spain, I’ll have only two weeks at home before heading to another trip. I’ll spend two weekends in Paris first but very soon it will be time for me to travel to New Zealand again and reunite with the girls. Often, I catch myself wondering if I have made the right choice when I decided to travel again. I remember very vividly how I didn’t want to leave the girls and how I felt there was nothing I wanted more that to be around them for a while longer. I know very well that when I decided to follow them on the other side of the world, I was absolutely convinced of my decision. Yet now that I am home and about to leave again, I find myself second guessing that decision. I am longing for other things, such as having a place of my home, some stability, a more traditional life, more time with my family. It seems silly in a sense because I would only be leaving for a few more months and all these things I long for, I could find them when I come back. Yet I find it also sad to leave my family again after such a short time, as if I didn’t have enough time with them, enough time to take it all in, recharge my batteries, enjoy life at home for a while longer before going away again. It is silly surely, but some feelings you have you can’t control. I know that it is a privilege to travel, I know that it is only a few months more, I know that home will still be here when I get back, yet sometimes I wish I wasn’t leaving at all. I guess all of this is also mostly influenced by the fact that despite my best effort, I find myself unable to make a concrete plan for the future. First I’ll meet some friends in Paris, then I’ll meet the girls in New Zealand (they have shortened their journey in Australia so I’ll meet them in Auckland directly), and then what? What is it that I truly want to do next? This is the one million dollar question that I can’t seem to find an answer too. There is a thousand things I want to do, a hundred viable options, yet not a single one seems to be the perfect plan for me. I want to be happy, yes, as does everybody, but how do I get there truly? One thing I learned about myself, is that I am not very good at looking forward past the next big thing that is planned in my life. So I guess I’ll focus on that now and then we will see. Hopefully everything will fall into place little by little.
I go to Paris for Lea’s birthday and we reunite for the first time since our trip together in Nova Scotia. As always, we have so much to catch up on. We spend a few days together at her apartment and during her birthday celebration, I also reunite with a few friends from school that I haven’t seen in a while. It is such a strange feeling to see all of them after all this time, and to also see how our lives have evolved since we left school. I realize that most of us share the same feeling that life truly isn’t what we expected it would be when we graduated. We were somehow so young and naive back then and somewhere along the way, we all took our own path and made the decisions that suited us best. I also spend a day with Sara and an evening with her and Florian and Thomas. All of us studied together in the US on our last year of business school but we haven’t seen each other much since then. We all seem to be at a cross road somewhat, changing jobs and career path, questioning life plans and reevaluating what we want to do next. We talk about the fact that a lot of students in our promotion seem to be on a similar journey as ours, each one in their own way and at their own pace. Is it a generational quest, I wonder? Despite the huge clouds of doubt that hang over our heads, we all seem to be looking forward to the journey, taking it one day at a time and I, for one, couldn’t be more exited to discover where these journeys lead us.
My time at home finishes with another weekend in Paris with Gabi and Nadiya, for one of our traditional girls weekend. We walk miles and miles around the city, trying to see as much as we can. We eat some great food and I introduce the girls to the famous French Escargots and both of them fall in love with them. As our little tradition dictates, we buy a postcard as a memory of our weekend here. On the back we write the highlights of our trip and we make some pronostics on what the next few months will bring for each of us. I hadn’t seen the girls in more than six months and it has been amazing to catch up with them. We still laugh the same way, and talk for hours the same way as when I lived closer to them and I hope it will stay like this in the future. But before I leave on my new adventure, it is time for me to look back on 2017 and everything that it brought me.
2017 was the year of new beginnings, the year of big travels and taking risk, the year of healing my broken heart, the year of challenges and learning through them who I am and who I want to be, the year of introspection and personal quest. I left everything I knew in 2016 and started with a clean slate in 2017. I went on a three months trip to Canada that turned into a 6 months trip that brought me all the way to Hawaii. I started a blog and set my heart on a couple projects I am looking forward to implement in 2018. In 2016, I found myself living a life I wasn’t able to enjoy anymore, and I made the very hard decision to leave everything behind. I quit my job, I left my apartment, I moved back to my home country and left my friends behind. I had no plan but to go home and heal, I had no clear project and nowhere to go but back to my parents, but it didn’t matter at the time because I knew I needed to leave if I ever wanted to be happy again. In retrospect, this was the best decision I ever made and somewhere along the way I found the courage to make bigger decisions. I packed my bags and left on a trip I didn’t really want to take and it turned out to be the greatest adventure of my life. I made peace with my past and recovered from that trauma and learned to embrace again all the magic that this life has to offer. I made the best of friends and saw the most beautiful places and even though I haven’t quite found my destination yet or my purpose in life, I am trying my best to enjoy every part of this journey, the good ones that leave you fulfilled and in love with your life, and the toughest ones that sometimes make you question your choices and wonder where the hell you’re going, because in the end it is probably all about the journey and that’s a lesson worth learning every day.
So here is to embracing my next journey, packing my suitcase one more time and boarding a plane that will bring me on the other side of the world, the further east I have ever been.
See you all there,