As many of you know by now, I recently went away to Copenhagen for a week. Before I left I had doubts about whether I was doing the right thing, and in fact the trip almost didn’t happen because I was so fraught with anxiety and concern about how I would cope. I am someone who lives by routine, certainty, and control- every day of my life has been intensely structured, to the point where my whole world felt like it might collapse if something impinged upon this structure, even if it simply meant not having the right type of tea in the afternoon.
I knew that by going away I would be forced to relinquish all of these things. For a long time this sense of systematic self-discipline has facilitated me in rebuilding my broken mind and making it strong again. My central focus has been on attaining and managing a high level of precision in terms of all the small details that make up my life. I think when you are desperately lost and unhappy it is sometimes comforting and a form of protection to be able to stay in control of your surroundings. The main loss I suffer in return for this is all the never-to-be possibilities that I shut out at the same time: the empty and forsaken roads never to be travelled.
As I was driving in the cold early morning darkness to the airport I tried to suppress the chill from all the pin-prickling fears telling me I wasn’t capable and to stop and turn back. Luckily, a little germ of an unquenchable desire to experience something new had already taken form and somehow spurred me on. So far, adult life for me has been a series of tentative first steps while creating new outlooks, intentions, meaning and purpose along the way, and I knew it was the right time to try to move forward again. How happy I am now that I breathed out, stayed calm, boarded the plane and began my adventure. For what an adventure it was. I will be eternally grateful that I went, because I believe it has been a trip that has changed my life.
During my week away, gone was my much cherished routine and the familiarity and control that comes with it, but in came the opportunity to explore, discover and enjoy. It is a self-evident truism that if you let in the unknown you will discover things you never knew. Since arriving back home in the UK, I have brought back more than just a suitcase full of Danish rye breads and goodies. I have come back with an utterly joyful and helpless sense of happiness. It came and struck me so unexpectedly I have found it overwhelming at times. I never thought the feeling existed that I could be so grateful to have a chance at life. Copenhagen is a most extraordinary city and has been a guiding map- both literally and metaphorically- in helping me to discover many new things about myself, the world and the people in it.
That being said, here is a list of some of those things I learnt that I would like to share- partly in the hope that it might (even in the smallest way) touch the lives of other people who are struggling or have struggled in the past:
- I have resilience.
- Change is necessary for growth.
- Even if I am afraid of change I can overcome it.
- With great challenges come great rewards.
- Take the time to look around you.
- If you say hello to people you don’t know they could become a valuable friend, or something else you never expected.
- Meeting new people and listening to their stories is inspiring and can offer a restorative feeling of togetherness and hope in the world.
- I am a likeable person.
- Self-belief will take you places.
- Stay curious.
- Don’t take anything for granted.
- It’s okay to be lost- you can have fun unlosing yourself.
- Just say yes.
- Even if things go wrong, don’t look back with regret.
- Your state of mind is reflected back in the world around you.
- Remember to smile, be grateful and treat life as a gift.
The last thing that happened on my trip- and which was certainly the best- was meeting the most incredible man, who made me feel so giddy with contentment that I almost didn’t want to return home. I know I am gushing here, which really isn’t like me..! but I have found someone who has truly opened up my world and made me realise how very blessed I am. Who knows where the future will take us..
Finally, thank you to everyone who has liked my travelling posts, commented or sent me a message. It has helped to give me confidence and feel supported even when I am so far away from home.
And of course, I will end with a poem (some habits die hard!):