It’s 10:04am on a Tuesday (Bangkok time). I’m sitting on the plane and my mind is racing as I reflect on the past few days.. weeks.. months.. year. Originally, I was going to compile all of my Asia travel notes to do a catch-up post from the past month abroad, but my friend Raelee got me thinking about the changes over the past year. So, here I am, with my calendar app open, looking at all the changes and reflecting on the Past. Wow. What a year.
I can’t believe I’m still surprised at how much Life can change in a year.. People, Plans, Perspective. The journey keeps going and we keep growing.
The first half of the year, I spent most of my time with my live-in girlfriend. I remember feeling like I was supporting her endeavors as we woke up early on a January morning to do a beach photo shoot for her to get more Bar Industry work in Vegas.. I remember being ready to settle down and travel less and focus on establishing roots.. how things can change in 6 months.
The second half of the year, I’ve spent almost all of my time working education programs and/or traveling. I’ve played less gigs/shows this year than normal.. only around 85. In place of those gigs, I’ve been able to check out the music scene in Las Vegas and the Pacific Northwest each for a couple weeks, backpack and explore 5 European countries with my best friend, travel and/or work in 4 different Asian countries, and nearly complete my first full band release in years. Lots to reflect upon, and I’m happy that most importantly, this has been a year of learning and reflection.
What I’ve Learned:
Plans and People Change. Always. Sometimes I think we get so focused on our plans or our own perspective that we don’t even notice the changes happening.. but they do. Whether the changes are voluntary or circumstantial, they are happening. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. I think how we react to change is often more defining than the change itself. At the beginning of this year, I was certain that the gf and I would be living in our own place in San Diego, establishing a business and building a home. As times have changed, I’ve now traveled more in the last 4 months than I have my entire Life.. and that was the right decision for me.
Smiles are Universal. I cannot stress how much smiling has generally served me in Life. Especially this year.. when traveling, sometimes a Smile is the only way I know how to communicate with other people. And when Life isn’t going the way that I had planned (see above), it’s amazing how much forcing a smile and focusing on the positive can really move Life forward.
I’m Happiest when I’m being Honest (with Myself). Especially when I’m in a relationship, I spend so much time trying to make others happy, that I neglect my own happiness. I think this is normal behavior from people, but it doesn’t serve either party. For me, neglecting things like Music only makes me feel more and more guilty and unfulfilled.. Not to mention, that some things just don’t work, no matter how hard you try to force them (haha, like relationships). With that said:
Resentment is Resilient. If you have unresolved resentment for anyone/anything, it will show back up again. Usually when it is the most detrimental to a healthy relationship. I’ve been surprised at how/when this negativity rears its ugly head and how much it affects my ability to make clear decisions. Emotions can be powerful deterrents to progress if not kept in check.
I’m a Mess and I think I’m Okay with it. When I was in a relationship sharing space and struggles, I felt ashamed for not having all the answers. Now, I appreciate the times where I feel Lost. In a world of GPS, it is okay to deviate from the path and find your own way. (Insert Robert Frost quote here) I’m getting used to not always feeling grounded. Life is a Puzzle and nobody has the answer key.
Nothing is Normal. Experiences are unique. People are weird. Life is relevant. At the beginning of this year, I had expectations for my relationships and my plans.. Now, I’m learning to better Accept People for who they are and the decisions that they make. It’s no longer “good” and “bad”. Their challenges and decisions are entirely their own. I don’t have permission to not accept someone even if I don’t like something about them. In the past, I thought I was being inspirational and encouraging, but maybe I was unintentionally trying to form people into the idea that I thought was best for them. It’s not my place to “fix” people.
There are Pretty Girls Everywhere. For real. Earlier this year, I didn’t think I would ever find a girl prettier than the one I was with. And when you’re in Love, that’s a great perspective to have. Now that I’ve been traveling with a single mindset, there are beautiful girls all over the World (sang in your best Bruno Mars impression). I believe there
is someone out there for Everyone are multiple people in the World that would be great for me. Sometimes it doesn’t work out because of timing, close-mindedness, circumstance, not being ready, or whatever other reasons.. And it’s crazy to me how influential these multiple connections are in our Lives. As much as every heartbreak sucks, I think I now appreciate them all. My hope is, when I meet the who is right for me, that I’ll be right for her.. and that based on all of these experiences, I’ll be ready for her and Us.
My Biggest Envy is Perceived Normalcy. Social media is a real pain in the ass, because we constantly get to see a version of what everyone else looks like.. their projected image via news feeds and posts. And I can’t help but be jealous of the happy families, little babies, career moves, new houses, and other successes. Part of me wishes I could follow that path, but I also know that it is a two-way window when people message me about rock climbing in Thailand or going to Belgian Breweries in Brussels. So, my learning is appreciating and encouraging each person’s journey and remember that mine is purely mine. Not right or wrong, just is what it is.
There is Risk with Cool Shit. haha. As in, everything worth achieving or going for has some sort of inherent risk associated with it. For me, I recently lost my GoPro while cliff jumping in Krabi, Thailand. And it was really devastating as I imagined all of those video memories floating to the bottom of the ocean.. It was a real bummer but taught me two valuable lessons:
Experiences are Individual. It’s no secret that I’m addicted to social media.. and I’m not the only one. Many of us get caught up in the validation we get from likes and comments, that we forget that our person experiences are for us. My experiences are for Me. It doesn’t matter what others think, because Others don’t change how defining the moments are for Me.
Don’t Get too caught up on the Losses. If we only focus on what we lose, we never gain anything. The struggle is real. Haha, and valuable. Loss provides more learning than anything I’ve ever gained. Not to downplay what we’ve all achieved, but the journey to get there.. the losses along the way, are what provide the real feedback necessary to grow.
The Power of Choice Defines Us. I choose who I’m going to be in every situation and this makes a huge difference on the result/outcome. Multiple times traveling, I’m having to choose between stepping out into the unknown in search for new experiences or taking the time to catch up on rest (which is alwayyyys lacking) or play on social media. The choice to get the most out of each situation is the reason I’ve met so many new, amazing people.. get a traditional bamboo tattoo at a Buddhist temple.. find Love (people/places/experiences) all over the World.. and through the Power of Choice, I’ve learned to accept myself more. And I suppose that truly accepting yourself is the underlying truth amidst all of our relationships, achievements, plans, and discovery. So, I guess that’s my biggest learning for the year:
What Happiness Looks Like. And I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not always happy. That’s a silly assumption. However, I am learning how to better focus on what makes me Happy and not just on the behaviors that may lead to being Happy. For instance, I love going out with friends.. but what makes me happy is spending genuine, quality time with Friends, not just the act of drinking. I hate sleeping alone and love spending the night with girls, but I’m not conquest driven or super hook-up oriented (like many people are; more power to them for recognizing that). I’ve learned that I love making real connections with people.. (and enjoy attention/affection) which is another mixed-signals challenge within itself, but at least now I’m able to focus on the authentic result and less on the messy ambiguity I have previously placed myself in.
So wherever you are in your own journey, I wish you the best of luck. Mine feels as out of control as ever, but I think I’m learning how to make the best of it. Thank you for reading my rambling, and I hope that somewhere amongst the chaos of my thoughts, it helps you find clarity in yours.
Happy New Year, Friends!