I fly home tomorrow. I can’t quite believe it’s been 6 months since I left NZ.
And so at the end of my adventure I find myself in terrible financial shape having completely obliterated my savings. My hair hasn’t seen the inside of a hairdressing salon in 6 months (and I am RELIGIOUS about my hair), and I’m pretty sure all the sun has prematurely aged my skin five years. I’m out of shape (as I sit here eating chocolate cake) and desperate to go for a run, but given how destroyed I feel walking up a flight of steps I’m not sure my first ‘run’ will be much more than a brisk walk…to a café where they serve a good flat white.
Disappointingly, I haven’t transformed into a nicer, more loving, giving and tolerant person. Nope. I didn’t ‘find myself’ either. I didn’t need to and that wasn’t what the trip was about.
I remembered some stuff I’d lost sight of and a few things were confirmed for me. The thing I came to realise, as deeply unpopular as it is to admit this sort of thing, is that I really, really love working and preferably in hard, complex, high-pressure roles. I love to think, to exercise my mind and solve hard, shitty problems. I love the sense of satisfaction and self-identity I get from my work. I will always be driven and possibly always work a bit too much. I definitely left everything on the field in my last job and that feeling of having run myself into the ground was partly why I took this sabbatical. You probably won’t ever hear the words “I’m moving to India to meditate and sell my macramé” cross my lips.
Also – and I’ve always known this – I really, truly don’t want kids. And I don’t care about getting married. I don’t even care that much about being in a relationship. I think I have a certain path to follow – my very own road less traveled – and sticking to this path when some people find it at odds with what a woman is supposed to do, want and feel, is one of my challenges.
And so after six months, as well as being broke, I’m clear about who I am, happy, relaxed, excited, recharged, inspired and full of hopes, dreams and plans for my future. I’ve made decisions I never would have made if I’d stayed in Wellington. I’ve altered my direction and have clarity about what I want to do and be and the energy to make shit happen.
Every so often I think about that Muslim man who sat next to me on my flight to Singapore and urged me to go and find ‘the truth’. We obviously had different interpretations of what this meant, but I remember at the time being thrilled at the prospect of this challenge – the sense of there being something worth searching for; a destination or endpoint that would give me answers to all the questions I carry around with me. But over the last six months I’ve realized that what I really responded to, and what makes me tick, is the quest itself; the sense of there always being more to see and know and discover; the fact that this ‘search’ relies on you staying curious about and engaged in the world around you. I kind of don’t want to find what I’m looking for because that would mean I’ve reached the end. And where’s the fun in that?