So, done with the disclaimer. Into the business at hand! I thought the Furry Little Worrymonsters warranted their own post, since these issues keep on popping up no matter how much I let them in, acknowledge them and let them have their space in my meditations. Maybe writing them out for all to see will make them recede back to the shadows, who knows. That's the way it usually goes for me, but for some reason I've kept dodging this important task and wished the worries and doubts about my journey would go away by other, abovementioned means. Well, apparently not, so time to grab the worry-beast by its horns and take a short ride around the Jungle of Anxiety. Giddiup!
Feeling sad and lonely
I think one of the biggest fears about the upcoming journey (departure in T-6 and counting...) is that I will feel supremely, heart-crushingly lonely and sad. I will see all of these lovely places, take millions on photos, but have nobody to share the excitement with. Instead on concentrating on the marvels of nature and cities filled with a myriad of colours and details, my eyes and thoughts will be fixated on other people who are enjoying their journeys with companions. Lovers holding hands and laughing at their own private jokes, safely cushioned inside in their glowing bubble of mutual affection. Friends having fun, taking silly selfies and sharing huge piles of yummy food at dinner, discussing what they experienced during the day. These sorts of things. I am aware that there will (most probably) be others travelling solo as well, but still it's pretty hard to shake the worry of "being left out", being the outsider, who will be too shy or self-conscious or whatever to seek out the company of others. I'm also quite picky about whose company I want to keep, so any group of boisterous, 18 year old backpackers won't do...
I guess the only way to tackle this problem is to do my own thing, enjoy my own company, and spot and use the opportunities for companionship as they present themselves along the way without doing the usual Lilje-overthinking along the lines of "I don't want to bother anyone, I'm sure no one would want my company anyway..." which simply isn't true. One of the goals of the journey: Get more self-confidence. Go talk to people. I will be alone only if I wish to be.
|Taxi boat - Next stop: self-confidence!|
Not meeting my own absurdly high expectations
The failure in this one is a given, since there is no way in the Universe that I can fill the huge giant-sized boots I've neatly arranged next to the doorway of this trip. The only way around: search out a fitting pair of shoes, girl! As I already noted in the trip introduction post, I cannot do everything I'd like to, so all kinds of decisions, big, small, furry and oblong, need to be made. Learning to make them is one of the biggest goals of the trip. And I cannot make these decisions if I'm petrified I will choose wrong or not fill my own expectations every step of the way.
So, some serious mindfulness about this issue needs to be set in place. I will need to get in touch with myself, figure out what I want and give myself permission to do whatever it takes to enjoy this trip and not feel like I'm letting myself down if I don't see or experience "enough". If I feel like I need to be in an ashram for extended periods of time, then so be it. It will not mean (like my mind is suggesting) that by doing that I will have "failed to experience India" and "taken the easy way out". It will just mean that I've made a choice and that if the said choice doesn't feel right, I can always reshuffle the pack and pick another card. If I feel like sitting on a beach somewhere for a month doing nothing, then I am allowed to. If I come back and won't have amazing pictures of Taj Mahal and all the seven wonders of the world to show, then that's OK too. This won't be my last trip to India (or anywhere else, for that matter). There will be other chances to do more.
But my Universe, it is so very very hard to actually believe that I have these permissions, and I don't *have* to do anything, for anyone. The trip will be a learning experience, no matter what I do. The only way it is possible to "fail" is to sit somewhere, stuck in the Bog of Indecision, feeling sorry for myself and wishing I was something or somewhere I am not. This I will try to avoid at all costs. Meditation and mindfulness and journaling to the rescue!
|It's ok to just be and smell the ocean|
Feeling rushed and unable to settle down
This one is closely linked to the previous issue. When I have all these expectations (vipassana! ashrams! trekking! sights! photos! horseback riding! working! volunteering!), I will start to stress and rush. And start blaming myself if I'm not happy. This is my pattern. And on this trip, I'm sure I'll notice myself falling in the same trusty grooves in the road to Pattern Town many times. But I'm also equally sure, that I now have tools to change my direction, choose the paths less traveled. Sit down, breathe. Find out which emotions are there now that would like me to hurry, say "namao", acknowledge them and let them in. Experience them, give them space, so that they can then move on again. If (and when) they come back, rinse and repeat.
I think this one applies particularly to the "sightseeing" part of the trip; when I'm on the move and not engaged in another activity (like taking part in a workshop or staying in an ashram). That's when the mind starts making all sorts of demands: Do this! Go there! The clock is ticking! Hurry! It will still be like this, since this is the nature of the monkey mind, but I'll work on not giving in to its whims. If they're not awesome. Or have to do with food. Then I might ;)
Worrying myself sick or actually getting really sick
When traveling in the tropics there are all kinds of health-related issues to keep in mind. Get your vaccinations. Use hand sanitizer. Don't open your mouth in the shower. Don't order drinks with ice. These kinds of things. I already had dengue fever so I know that getting sick is a real possibility. And it's a chance one needs to take when traveling to these parts of the world. No dengue fever in Finland. But also, fresh coconuts? Not very bountiful. And of course I'll take any precautions I can to prevent getting a nasty bug, but sometimes these things do happen.
I've had some health issues and the excessive worrying to accompany them in the last couple of years, and since worrying comes so naturally to me, I'm sure I'll have my hands full with it during the trip as well. Getting sick is annoying but worrying so much that I ruin my fun by paying attention to every little twinge the body is sending (and taking it for MalariaDengueAppendicitisCancerPainfulDeath) is a completely different ballgame. And one I don't wish to play, although I am very very good at it. But I also believe I have tools to tackle this monster if (when) it raises its ugly head. And if worst comes to worst, there are hospitals and doctors. And I have an insurance. So, worrying is actually worse than the actual sickness. And more difficult to prevent... But I'll do my best!
|Clouds of worry, gathering|
I already wrote that it would be very very wonderful if after this trip I would have a clearer idea about the next step I want to take in my life. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do for work? Small, insignificant things like these. Which, naturally, for a person who has a hard time choosing anything, seems like the biggest and scariest thing of all time. Which is why I've actively tried not to (over)think about these things and have faith that somewhere along the line there might be an inspiration which will help me out in choosing something. But, it is equally possible, that there won't be. And that I'll be back in the summer and still have no frickin' clue about what to do. Yes, I can always go back to translating. And yes, funds permitting, I can also sublet my apartment again and keep on travelling. But it still feels like I'd be letting myself down (here we go again with the expectations...) if I didn't have some kind of a plan after this trip. It feels like I would have learned nothing. Which is not true, but that's what it feels like.
So I will try try and try again to be kind towards myself about this as well. Not to point fingers, not to blame. There's no reason to feel ashamed if I don't have my ducks in a row any better after 6 months than I do now. I'll figure it out, or a part of it, sooner or later. And who says the ducks need to be in a row anyway? I think a freeform bunch of energetic ducklings sounds like a much more exciting formation!
So, here we go. A glimpse to what the Lilje Worry Buffet has on offer. I'll keep myself (and you) posted along the way how things go. Thanks for reading! <3
|I refuse to let my worries drag me down!|