New Old Friends
Life can be messy; its a constant current moving us in different directions, sometimes of our own choosing, other times by chance, or circumstance. Experiences shape us, gives us new perspectives, and ways of understanding this world around us.
I have been fortunate to have had many experiences in my twenties. My thirties have been moreso focused on paying off the experiences I had in my twenties... I digress... but even so, I wouldn't give up the things I did nor the places I went, or the people I met, for anything. Often I wish I had done more, that's not to say my travel or adventure days are over, but they do look different now than they did back then. I didn't have debt; no student loans to pay off, no TFSAs or RRSPs to worry about, no car payments draining my bank account on a bi-weekly basis, and little to no responsibilities. It was easy to leave my worries behind, hop on a plane and tour Europe for three weeks, or take a bus and bartend at a fly-in fishing lodge for a summer only to land back home and jump onto another flight heading for Australia. Even deciding a month prior that I would apply to attend Bible school in Austria for three months, then receiving my acceptance letter two weeks before class started. So I booked my flight, attempted to pack what I thought I'd need (knowing nothing of Austria at the time), and dove head first into one of my greatest adventures to date.
There will be many more travel and adventure blogs to come, but this one has a different spin. You see, I recently reconnected with someone I met in Austria. We tried to stay in touch after parting ways at the end of school but it can be difficult with the time difference, and having an ocean between is quite the thing to overcome indeed. It had been a few years since we last spoke, but not a day went by that I did not miss her terribly.
I've found in my life, very few people who truly understand all of me. Of course, my close friends and family understand most of me, but there's a side that I tend to keep to myself. Maybe its a fear of being misunderstood, or a fear that somehow this part of me will be tainted or damaged if I bring it out too often or show the wrong person. I'm protective of it because I know its hard to understand. Its something I love about myself so I want to preserve it for as long as I can, I want to keep it unchanged and unaffected by the world. This friend I found in Austria mirrored this side of me in an unrivaled way.
In my experience, different people open different doors to my personality. I guess you could say I sort of.. adapt to those around me. When I was in Austria I had two goals:
To figure out this whole Jesus thing - and decide once and for all whether or not it was for me, and
To find my true self and heal - after a string of bad relationships and hitting an all time personal low.
This blog is moreso focused on goal #2.
I didn't know what to expect when my boots hit the ground in Vienna, nor when I got on a train headed for Schladming, but I knew I needed a change. I was tired of being the version of myself that everyone expected me to be, or that I had convinced myself they all expected me to be. I didn't even know who I was anymore, what I liked or didn't like, what my passions were, what brought me joy or gave me life. I felt like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, I had no idea what kind of eggs I liked!
Austria changed all that for me, this friend I met there was a big part of that. She was so authentically herself, I saw it from the moment we met. Genuine, kind, adventurous, hilarious, thoughtful, and she loved Jesus so absolutely that it made me question why I ever doubted. I found myself wishing I was more like her, she knew who she was and she wasn't afraid of it, instead she embraced it. She loved the unknown, thrived on seeing new places, meeting new people and refused to get stuck in a life the world expected her to have. She was free.
We used to sneak out of the chalet in the middle of the night to climb up on the roof of the parking garage next to the school. We'd sit up there for hours just talking and staring at the stars that sparkled like diamonds on a black canvas. Here I was truly free to be full of wonder, imagination, creativity and joy. I could question things, feel everything, and know that it was a safe place. I think so often we shut down sides of our personalities, or things that we're passionate about, or even things we're questioning because we're afraid of how someone might respond. We're afraid of offending someone, or not fitting in, or being judged. Austria was the first time in my life I didn't feel the weight of expectations. I had nothing to prove and knew no one, it was a clean slate to be the person I wanted to be. There were no preconceived notions about me, or my faith.
As I mentioned earlier, this friend and I lost touch a few years ago, but not a day went by that I didn't think of her. Whenever I was feeling less like the person I wanted to be I'd think of her, and remember how strongly she believed in staying true to who she was. It gave me courage to declutter my mind from expectations and hit the reset button.
Just this last week I received a message from her. We decided on a time and connected through video chat. I was so happy to see her face that I actually shrieked when her camera turned on. I was so glad to see that she was okay, after the dumpster fire this world has put us through over the past two years. Life is harder now, that is certain, but she hasn't changed. Her spirit remains the same, even if it is a little burdened by boring normal things like jobs and paying bills. Something I can definitely relate to.
I was so incredibly happy to share some time with her once again. I truly believe we are soul sisters, and were meant to be in each others lives; to bring back some of that wonder, imagination, creativity, adventure and joy that the world tries to take away. I am excited to move forward in life knowing she is back in mine.
I want to encourage you, dear readers, if you have found someone in your life that lifts you up, and brings out the very best in you, don't lose touch. Life is hard enough, don't let the current take you further away from the people that give you joy; we need to keep our soul sisters (or brothers) nearby.