When Dreams Come True

Feb 27, 2015 by

          “Would you go back to Paris?”

          Yes.

          “Would you travel solo again?”

          Yes.

 

***

 

          It can be difficult to digest the unexpected reality that becomes of a dream. Hence the guilt that formed when I decided to leave Europe early. Despite being happy with my choice and loving unemployment, I felt guilty for months after my return. I felt like I failed, like I didn’t make my dream happen, like I didn’t even fly to Europe in pursuit of it. My time in Paris didn’t feel dreamlike and I didn’t follow through with all intended 82 days in Europe. I felt like I gave up by using the money I saved for European travel to indulge in time off at home. Most of all, I felt like I put my dream on the line by going for it before I wanted to, just because I was in a what-the-fuck-do-I-do-with-my-life rut and – let’s be honest – hurt.

          I relayed the positives of the situation and my decision repeatedly, and although I genuinely believed them, I needed distance from Paris to accept the negative aspects for what they were: negatives. Just negatives. Negatives without silver linings. I was disappointed and lonely in Paris, because I was at a point that I was uninterested in tossing myself into novel social situations. I was at a point that I needed the support network I had left at home. I was at a point that I didn’t want to be travelling. While in Paris, I had to look at the pros. After leaving, I could better acknowledge the rest, because I no longer felt stuck. As weeks and months elapsed after my return, it became easier and easier to accept that I spent more time in Paris trying to pick myself up than actually being up. This is neither Paris’s fault nor solo travel’s fault. I’d revisit both. It was an issue of bad timing. I wasn’t listening to myself before I left. I didn’t want to believe my voice when I heard it say aloud that I didn’t want to go to Europe yet. For ultimately acting despite it, I inflicted blame upon myself.

          I inflicted blame upon myself until I realized there was nothing to blame myself for. Sometimes, we get the timing wrong. Sometimes, there are negatives that don’t have positives. Sometimes, we are made less happy by the very things we thought would make us happier. All of that is okay – insightful, even. It all leads to learning, and holy fuck have I learned a lot since I got on that Paris-bound plane, one of the latest lessons being the importance of forgiving myself. It took me a while to do it, but I noticed when I wrote the following words in The World is My Oyster in January that I was lifting the self-blame off my shoulders: “Admittedly, I was saving money with the purpose of going to Europe and now I’m using it for time off at home, but the point is that I saved enough to deal with my life’s most recent unexpected turn, entitling me to this time. I earned it.”

          I earned it, I realized.

          I earned it, so there was no reason to guilt myself anymore.

          Finally, I understood that I should be proud. I should be proud that by going to Europe I did what I thought was best for me at the time. I should be proud that by coming home from Europe early I was bold enough to accept that what I thought would make me happy didn’t, and I made a move to change it. I should be proud that I put my happiness first, because doing so is never failure. Flying away from an unhappy situation in pursuit of a fulfilling one will never constitute giving up.

Happiness Tip: Forgive yourself.

 
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