I used to sing karaoke in dark, smoky bars in Japan with AP reporters and go to parties at mansions with A-list celebrities in the French Riviera.
That was a different life, and I was a different person, yet always loudly…me.
While I’m intensely appreciative of those experiences, I no longer have the desire to do those things. I look back on them with grateful nostalgia, yet without longing to continue living that nomadic, adventure-filled life.
In this very moment, I feel deeply that I’ve lived enough life to last me until my end. I no longer have that itch to get on a plane every three months and immerse myself in a foreign country with no plan, no itinerary, and no one by my side.
In truth, I’m tired, and I’ve wanted nothing more for several years now than to just…stay.
It’s taken me a while to realize that’s perfectly okay. When I first stopped traveling two years ago, I allowed other people’s opinions of my life to make me feel guilty.
I am a nomad. That’s how others define me. So when I stopped jet-setting, people were vocal about it.
I heard it all, from “How am I supposed to live vicariously through you if you’re not traveling?” to, “But traveling is who you are. You won’t be happy in one place.” It made me feel as if I was letting people down by changing what has defined me for so long.
I struggled with it. A lot. I thought that people would stop loving me if I wasn’t giving them what they wanted: seeing the world via my Instagram feed.
I felt guilty for taking that away from them, and I worried that they were right—that I wouldn’t be capable of staying in one place, let alone be happy staying in one place.
But then I got over it.
I took a giant leap away from social media, I sold the vehicle I lived in, I made a home and a life in a state that is far removed from society (that would be Alaska), and I opened a coffee shop.
And my followers didn’t hold back in regard to how my choice affected them. I received a lot of messages from people expressing deep disappointment that I had stopped living for them and started living for me.
Honestly, their disapproval hurt a bit. I felt like I was being judged for wanting to settle down, and like I was betraying them for suddenly becoming someone different.
However, on my end, it wasn’t sudden. I had been tired for years and wanting to find a place to call home. And though I had been vocal about that in my social media posts, no one listened. I was the girl who didn’t have a home, and that’s all anyone could focus on. I kept traveling because that’s what people expected of me. I continued to be “location independent” (I gag on that term) because that’s who people thought I was.
In their eyes, I wasn’t capable of being anything else. So naturally, I let their opinions influence me, and therefore I worried that I wasn’t capable of being anything else.
But I decided to give it a go anyway.
And I love it, though I will be honest about feeling a little suffocated at times. Staying in one place has been so good for me, in so many ways. I’m finally building a life, not collecting experiences. While I highly (seriously highly) recommend to anyone and everyone that they go out and see all that the world has to offer, to collect those experiences and memories, I myself am currently on the other side of it. I’m done. And here’s the thing: I want to be done.
I chose a place to stay, and I’ve built, stone by stone, a real legit life of stability and staying. And I’m happy.
Others still insist on giving me their opinion about how I’ll get bored and start to miss the world. But you know what? If that happens, I’ll buy a plane ticket and take a vacation. Because I have changed, and I am allowed to change, despite what anyone else thinks or wants.
It was challenging in the beginning to actively chose to not let what others say affect me or make me question myself. We’re all human, and what other humans say affects us all, whether we like it or not. When I’m feeling discouraged and sensitive, I remind myself that I’m the only creator of the chose-your-own-adventure story that is my life, and I’ve chosen to pick one little corner of the world and live there.
That’s what I want for my life. What do you want for yours?
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