What a year it has been. I know, I’m a little early for an end-of-year blog. But the last two months will be so different from the rest of the year that I’d better wrap it up now.
It was not the first time that I left “home” for a longer period of time, but it was the first time that I took my house on my travels. For anyone who missed it: In January I left with my caravan to explore Europe for a year. I mainly wanted to do that to be able to write more about climbing destinations, and therefore do a lot of climbing. It was also a way for me to get to know myself better.
I hoped that both me and my blog would grow.
I can tell you now that it worked out. I am proud and happy of what the past year has brought me. When I thought about this plan about 2.5 years ago, I hoped to be able to earn money with my blog. By the time I actually left, I had already dropped that idea. I think that was a good thing too. That’s why I had fun writing all this time. That now pays me off in the result of the past year. My views have increased considerably and the interaction with readers has also increased. And that gives me great satisfaction that readers appreciate my work. That they sometimes become thoughtful makes me proud.
When I left with the caravan behind the car in January, I had virtually no experience with driving the caravan. The distances I had driven until then were never more than 1.5 hours. Now, just after a lot of snowfall, I left on my own to drive in 2.5 days to north-west Spain. It was stressful, especially when I stupidly followed google and was sent over the inner ring of Paris. In the following 10 months I conquered narrow roads, steep slopes and pothole roads. Amazingly, I hardly suffered any damage. The most annoying thing was the ant infestation I got. A kind of ant that gnaws holes in wood and plastic doesn’t really make you feel good. It remains to be seen until next summer whether all the ants have really disappeared.
I feel proud of how much confidence I now feel in driving the caravan. I really didn’t think about that before leaving.
What I did expect, and indeed it did happen, is how my social skills have grown. During my trip I met so many different people. It is then almost impossible not to grow in that department. People from very different backgrounds, who have had completely different lives, if only because they were born in a different country.
Someone who told me about her experiences during the war in what is now Croatia, another who told me what it was like growing up in the north of Romania, that there was nothing to be found in the shops, made a big impression on me. Not so long ago, Europe was so divided and different. It is nice to see that there is slowly more equality throughout Europe. Because if we get along well, the chances of problems are much smaller.
What I have also grown into is following my gut feeling. In the past, I often let things slide and let people walk all over me. Now I am still someone who avoids confrontation, often because I feel that the atmosphere does not improve when I confront it. There is really still a step for me to take, bringing small things to the table much sooner so it doesn’t come to a boiling point. But I have chosen for myself on several occasions. In two cases I just left because I didn’t feel comfortable in the situation I was in. It may not be special to others, but it is to me. When plans are in my head in a certain way, I find it difficult to change them at once. To some extent, I have also recently found new ways to deal with this.
If you want to climb, you need a partner. Since I was on the road alone I had to find them locally. For example, the people I found had work or all kinds of other restrictions in their lives. So if I wanted to climb as much as possible, it meant that I sometimes had to change gears quickly. What I’ve found as a trick for myself is to have a series of other options in mind. If a climbing session was canceled last minute or moved to another day, I could easily grab one of my other ideas and do it that day.
There will probably be people who read this with amazement, but this is something that I run into in my life and because of my experiences over the past year I have become much more flexible. Still in my way of course.
This trip was a good end to a period of about 5 years in which I learned a lot about myself. During that period I was very much looking for how I want to fill in my future. I’ve had many different jobs. Looking for where I would feel at home. I tried to accept who I am, which is going really well, but I also tried to accept that I would have a new job every year.
Along the way, when I decided to slowly return to the Netherlands to get back to work, because I started to miss having a daily goal, I found that I couldn’t accept having a new employer every year for the next 30 years. In recent years I have already encountered a lot of hurdles to find a nice job again. Because I have gotten to know myself better in recent years, I know better and better where my strengths and weaknesses lie. While traveling I got a better idea of what I need to be able to grow.
A few months ago I converted that image into a letter that I sent to a number of coaches and therapists. There I chose someone who I feel could best help me. And now I am working with her to enter a new phase of my life.
I think this is the single most important result of my journey over the past year. Getting clear to myself where I want to go.