Yes, I’m confused about life just like everyone else. I get depressed, I struggle and I feel lost too, more often than you probably would imagine.
In fact, back in August of this year, I had a bit of a breakdown. That might be an understatement. It was actually quite a significant breakdown.
Despite having been traveling for 15 years, despite doing things like spending time in France, Romania, Singapore, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Turkey and more during the first half of this year…when August came around, nothing made sense to me.
I was placing intense personal pressure on myself, I had no answers to anything and every day I woke up with a ‘holy-crap-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing’ kind of confusion.
And then, while in Bali, I got dengue fever as an added bonus. After Bali, things didn’t get much better and following a couple of more unfortunate incidents that occurred, I was officially more confused, frustrated and distraught than I had been in a long, long time.
When this happened, I just stopped what I was doing. I stopped everything. I flew back to Florida in August, where my family lives, and I stayed there. I could barely sleep at the time so I would just get out of bed at around 5:00am each day and go for a walk. Then I would sit around for hours on end doing nothing at all. Sometimes, when motivation struck for a few moments, I would try to think about every aspect of my life hoping to find some kind of clarity but that clarity never came.
The days passed and I felt as if I was going absolutely nowhere, making no progress at all, still feeling as completely confused about life as ever.
One day, after three weeks of this sitting around doing nothing, I finally made an important realization, interestingly enough, while eating a burrito.
I had gotten the urge to drive over to a small burrito shop, one that I eat at every time I’m visiting family in Florida. I ordered the same burrito I always order, filled my glass with the same sweet iced tea that I always fill my glass with and took a seat at the same table I always try to sit at. The main difference this time was that I was still fighting back tears every few minutes, something that would just hit me out of nowhere during this period of depression, and I wasn’t as eager, given my loss of appetite, to eat my burrito.
While waiting to see if I’d be able to actually eat, I started looking around the room, observing the other twenty or so diners in the restaurant. There were families, groups of friends, pairs of co-workers and a handful of other people eating alone just like me. I watched them all for around ten minutes, looking at their faces and observing their behavior and trying to figure out whatever I could about their lives.
And then I suddenly…burst out laughing. Before I knew it, I couldn’t stop laughing and believe me I tried. I stared out the window, bit my lip, pinched my thigh, closed my eyes and tried all sorts of ideas without any success.
Why was I laughing?
At that very moment, I realized that the ‘answer’ I had been looking for was so simple that I had no choice but to laugh at my inability to have seen it earlier.
All along I thought I was looking for some kind of magical clarity. I thought I needed to find a way to get rid of the confusion and feeling of being extremely lost.
But as I looked around me in that burrito shop, I started to understand that every single human being feels confused and lost as well, over and over again throughout life. Nobody is exempt from these feelings, it’s all a part of the human journey.
So, being confused and lost is not so important, not such a big deal.
This Is The Important Thing…
What’s important is having confidence in who we are as an individual as we face life’s ups and downs. And the only way to be confident in ourselves is to make sure we know exactly what kind of person we want to be and to then do whatever it takes to ensure we act and behave accordingly.
We need to be our true self at all times.
In my case, while in that burrito shop, I realized that I had lost all of my confidence because I no longer knew who I was.
Somehow along this crazy traveling adventure of mine, my life became so scattered that I forgot some of my principles, I forgot some of my strongest beliefs and I definitely forgot about staying true to myself. I was trying to live up to one image one day and another image the next, never even knowing myself which Earl, or Derek, should show up or would show up, when all along I should have just been the one and only ‘me’.
As soon as I understood that getting back on track simply required me to re-focus on the kind of person I want to be and to then make sure I am always that person, my full appetite returned and I ate that burrito ever so quickly.
My motivation to get up and out of the house came right back, my desire to work towards my goals reappeared and most importantly, I felt happier and more confident than I could remember feeling for a very long time.
Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Okay
Let me say this….don’t worry about the confusion you are feeling. Don’t worry about feeling lost and having no idea what to do in life.
Don’t worry if you wanted to travel in 2014 and you didn’t. Maybe you traveled less than you had wanted or your plans didn’t go as expected. Maybe you wanted to quit your job and head in a new direction but you weren’t sure what to do or maybe you couldn’t decide between traveling or going to school. Perhaps you just don’t know how to take the first step towards your goals and you’re worried that you’ll never achieve what you really want to achieve in the end. Again, don’t worry about these things.
Worry about who you are right now instead. That’s where it starts.
Understand what kind of person you want to be as you move through this world, what you believe in, how you want to treat others and what is important to you. Once you figure this out, the rest will come and you’ll be able to handle any periods of confusion, fear, uncertainty or whatever you must face along the way.
The thing is, I’ve always believed that a happy, confident me is in a far better position to achieve my goals than an unhappy, unconfident me. It just turns out that I forgot that for a while this year and it knocked me way off course.
Luckily, I’ve remembered it again.
Final Words About Happiness and Burritos
As part of my final post of this year, I wanted to share this experience above so that you can also go into 2015, not just with another list of things you want to achieve, but with a new confidence and happiness – a result of staying true to yourself at all times – that will help you actually achieve whatever it is you set your mind to.
I don’t want you to be sitting in a burrito shop back home, unable to eat, unsure of how to deal with life and wondering how you’ll ever find your way again.
I’d rather meet you in a burrito shop somewhere out here in the world, swap travel stories and get to know you, the real you, the person you truly want to be.
Who’s ready to meet?
I sincerely thank you for being a part of this blog in 2014, for reading this ramble and my countless others as I discuss what it’s like, and what I learn, from living a life of constant travel.
Without you, this blog does not exist and that’s something I’ll never forget.
With much love,