Reflections on an Experiment
I was going to post this ages ago (March 22, in fact) and I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess it got lost in the blog shuffle. It’s nice, though, that I get to post it today: August 19, exactly 5 months to the day since I returned to Canadian soil.
Going to Ireland was very much an experiment. It was me seeing if I could do it. If I had the guts, the mettle, the adventurousness. Seeing if I could survive it.
I was supposed to be gone for six months: January 17 – July 17. I came home on March 19, four months early. Some would be tempted to call that a failure, me among them. But when I stop and think about it, it was anything but a failure.
There were a lot of reasons that I decided to go on the trip in the first place. As mentioned, to see if I could. To regain a sense of my independence and ability to take care of myself. To fulfill a lifelong dream to travel and live abroad. To reinvigorate my life, to feel excited and present again. There were a lot of things that I wanted to get from my trip: adventure, pretty pictures, blog posts, confidence. I believe I got all of those things, and more.
My trip was not an easy one. There were a lot of complications and setbacks, right from the start. I felt set adrift and homesick all the time. But I dealt with it. I navigated through a foreign country, found my way from Dublin to Cork, got myself an apartment, and an immigration card, went on day trips and met new people. I saw some of the most incredible sights of my life. Even though it ended up not being the right thing at the right time for me, I don’t regret a single minute of it, and I am so grateful that I decided to take a chance on my dreams.
I discovered a deep, abiding love for Ireland, a country that I know I will be returning to in the future. Even now, I can feel it calling to me over the Atlantic ocean. Gazing out at the river valley, drowning in snow, capped with a crisp, heartbreakingly blue winter sky, I can feel the tug of Ireland’s rolling green hills in my veins. The country wriggled its way into my heart and I don’t see it vacating anytime soon. I already have plans to drag Bryan across the ocean for another extended sojourn on the Emerald Isle.
Most of all, though, I learned that I can take care of myself. I am stronger and more capable than I remember being before. I have learned that making the decision that will make you happy is rarely the wrong decision. I have learned that it is possible for me to make new friends (hi, Elizabeth and Nina!). I have learned that travel is hard, and painful, and sometimes really disheartening, but it is insanely worth it. I have learned too many things to enumerate here.
I came home three days ago, and I think I am a different person than when I left. It is weird to be home, mostly because it isn’t weird. Life seems to have stalled while I was away. I know I was gone for two months, and everything changed for me, but it feels like nothing changed here. And yet…I can fit effortlessly into my old life. Except it’s not my old life anymore. It is a new life, it is different, and I couldn’t be happier.
I can’t wait for more travel adventures. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for the future. I can’t wait to see what surprises will be thrown my way. I know I can handle them. And I am abundantly grateful that I took the chance to find that out.
What “mistakes” have you made that turned out not to be mistakes at all?
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