Last year, I quit my office job, boyfriend, and Netflix subscription to try to find myself in the jungles of Costa Rica. I didn’t know why I was going, I just felt like I needed to go. It was your typical, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life, I better drop everything, get on a plane, and figure this shit out.
One month turned to six months of hiking volcanoes, 10 days of silence, swimming in my underwear, and enjoying many sunsets with stray dogs. Although it was nothing short of magical, it became clear early on that what I needed to find myself wasn’t found in the place.
It was found in giving myself space.
Space to explore and act on my curiosity.
Space to be a bit primal and uncensored.
Space to quiet my thoughts.
Just a space to be.
Costa Rica’s nature was the place I chose to help me find this space within myself, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be your yoga class, your backyard, or the nearest forest you can find. Whatever you choose to do, here are the three elements that are fundamental to creating space and finding yourself through your adventure of choice.
1. Decide to Do It Alone
There’s power in going at it alone—not because there won’t be someone there to influence your decisions, but because the decision itself to adventure alone allows you to recognize and honor your power. When I first moved to California, I looked out into the ocean to see, in the distance, several specs of the landmass. I wanted to see what was on the other side so I asked brothers and friends if they wanted to go, camp, and explore the Channel Islands, but I always got the same answer of, “yeah maybe next month.” I waited because I needed someone to go with me, you know, to start a fire, fend off crazy, to not get lost on a trail, etc. But after a year of waiting, I said, fuck it, I’m doing this and so I gathered everything I needed, I went, met people along the way, and had an incredible journey. The gift of the solo journey is the power of knowing that you are everything you need to go after what you want in your life.
2. Remove Distractions
In a world where we get pinged by our phones and seek for answers from the internet, it’s really easy to lose ourselves in vast information. To create space to explore ourselves, we first need to purge our minds of the trivial stuff that keeps us from going beyond the surface of our consciousness, thus making it essential for you to go into your adventures with zero distractions from a phone or computer. For example, if you are going on a hike leave your phone in the car or put it in airplane mode. If you are traveling for a week, don’t bring your computer. In today’s era, we are addicted to our devices and a lot of the time we use our electronics as exit doors for avoiding boredom or unpleasant feelings, preventing ourselves from discovering and processing ideas, thoughts, or emotions that come up. Removing these distractions will allow you to fully immerse your mind in the flow of the adventure.
3. Breath and Observe
Going on an adventure to find yourself can result in many enriching experiences, from to discovering new passions to moments of feeling fully connected to your inner voice. However, adventuring can bring up disagreeable thoughts and feelings, as well. This is normal and is part of the process of releasing what no longer serves you. Two weeks into my sabbatical, when I was climbing the mountains of Lake Arenal, the scenery was beautiful, but my mind was racing with thoughts—thoughts of missing home and thoughts of being an idiot for leaving the lover of my wildest dreams. I breathed and let myself sit with the feelings of missing and longing. The process was nothing short of painful, but when I walked down to the other side of the mountain something had shifted inside me—a lightness and contentment for what lies ahead. On your adventure just observe yourself and your surroundings, be present with what comes up, let your self become it, and go on to let yourself become something else.
A lot of times we travel miles, crossing seas and mountains to find what already exists inside of us—this space. A space that exists between our Self and the world, an inward sky that fosters strength, clarity, and calm. While adventures to exotic locations have an uncanny ability to unleash this part of you, it’s important to know that, wherever you are, this space exists within you, making the journey to find yourself never far away.