My life feels like it was lived by two different people in two totally different worlds – before Prague, and after. Some of you knew me in my other life. I was small then, not like I am now. I was afraid of the world around me, I was afraid of taking chances, and I was afraid of failure. Funny thing about failure – the more you fear it, the more you fail. But I didn’t know that in my other life. I was trapped.
My other life was lived very quietly. I was docile, housebroken. I had a car. I had a job. I even had a husband. My other life wasn’t designed by me or for me. My other life was a culmination of decisions I made because I felt pressure to conform. I did things I didn’t want to do. I held down jobs that made me miserable. I worked 9-5 jobs in windowless rooms alongside people I had no interest in and nothing in common with. I woke up every morning feeling heavy. I didn’t know it then, but my spirit was dying. My spirit was screaming out for rescue.
I was never interested in the things I was supposed to be interested in – things like earning lot’s of money, having a big house full of fancy things, a husband, a job or kids. I never wanted a car (I didn’t get my licence until I was 20 years old) and I never cared what kind of car other people drove. My interests were books, philosophy, nature, art and adventure. But, these were not acceptable aspirations in my other life. I was made to feel stupid or silly for wanting to explore these things. People told me to “get serious” and find a way to make “real money”. A phrase which still makes me wonder… How much money does it take to become “real money”?
When I moved to The Czech Republic I left my other life behind. I left the attitudes that belittled me behind and I left the lifestyle of excess behind. But a funny thing happened when I did that. The people from my old life became defensive. They called me “flakey” and told me to “grow up”. In my mind it was pretty mature, pretty grown up, to move to a non english speaking country ALONE. I didn’t know a soul in Prague when I got there and I didn’t know any Czech, but I managed. Something I wouldn’t have done in my old life. But after about a year in Prague I realized I wasn’t that person anymore. I wasn’t that person anymore because I had left behind all of the people who told me I was.
Those people who met me in Prague (or in Mexico) met a different person. They met an outgoing girl who wanted to see the world and have fun doing it. I turned into the person I had always known I could be. I was that person who hopped a bus to Mexico in the middle of the night… all by herself. I was that person who was brave in the face of fear. I walked strange streets and met strange people. I went to the movies, took flights and trains and busses, I went out to eat, and I landed jobs. By myself. I realized that not only were the people in my old life wrong about me, they never really took the time to get to know me. I didn’t fit the mold and it threatened them.
I am still facing this, but I am getting better at handeling it. There are plenty of people from my old life who do support me, and who are excited for my journey. Because that is the way I see my life – A journey. My life isn’t about accumulating things or having a career. My life is not about attaining social status – reflected in where I live, what kind of car I drive, or how many rooms my house has. That’s cool for other people, but for me it’s all about the journey. And the journey doesn’t have to end.
I don’t need much, not really. I need a place to rest my head, someone who cares about me in a real way, creativity, passion, and love. My happiness doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks about my life. My values do not need to reflect yours or anyone else’s.
I am pretty sure that the secret to life is knowing that.