This article is a part of my OOMF series, where I revisit old posts from my past blogs relating to travel and self-improvement, and republish them here to be a resource and to give you the push you need to travel. This article was written just before New Years Day for 2014, after almost 18 months of depression and rehab from a breakdown following my return home, and how I overcame it to travel again.
HAPPY NEW YEAR //
Boy, I looked forward to the start of the New Year, but I really didn’t know if I’d make it that far to be honest. This blog and communication with you all has become an important aspect in my life, and also a mission to convey hardships and triumphs in the gauntlet in life and the pursuit of happiness.
So, I can deal with writing in a café to you on New Years Eve because it matters to me. And this story is important to share.
I wanted to write an end of the year memoir about how precious time is, the passing years, resolutions, and future goals.
2013 IN RETROSPECT //
This past year began at the end. What an damn obscure statement that is.
True that every year begins at the end of the last one. But life truly began again for me at the beginning of 2013. 2012 was like a thriller film; build up, conflict, conflict, climax where all seems lost, and resolution. Except it was a very real experience for me, and in secret I nearly gave up on life.
The return home from New Zealand had stripped away the false illusion that everything was fine and dandy. Surface level yes, inside no. I found myself back where I started and demoralized so much that it amplified my need for destructive things.
When you are feeling low and lost, you revisit old haunts that worsen the mindset you were in. Those old bars gave me new blackouts, old hookups were attempted to be rekindled, and old bad habits grew worse. Like a skipping record, you keep missing a beat and keep making the same decision that set you back in the first place.
If you pretend too long and swim in a pool of misery with people who try pull you down all the same for their amusement, you’ll end up drowning.
THE DOWNFALL //
Being exposed in the world while exploring my first country brought forth a past I never dealt with. I ended up face down in the mud with a storm I caused that ripped apart everything.
After being at that lowest low where I faced 5 years in jail for drunkenly breaking into a dentist office thinking it was the place I lived in, I realized it was do or die for me.
“Time to fucking do it Ryan!” my mind said for the first time like a punch in the face. Alcoholics Anonymous had been a weekly routine at that point. Like father like son, I had ended up in a place I remembered seeing my mom and pop as a young boy confess their sins like a church for drunks. It was months of uncertainty as to my own fate and a sudden drive to turn things around. My head was haunted and needed to be cleared.
When the gavel clapped and the judge freed me, I knew I would never waste another moment again.
As 2012 closed, 2013 began with the launch of a travel blog for me to share this growth a slow road to reclaiming my life. My first article, “Death: My Travel Inspiration” would shape the tone of the blog and my mission to share my stories in hopes it may give someone a little light at the end of their own dark tunnel. Sharing those stories helped me face what tormented my mind and heart for all of those years like a counselor never could.
That’s also what this blog is meant for as well, as I still deal with my past.
I shared at the time because I didn’t know any of you, and I could not yet talk about it in person. Anonymous counseling. As time went by, I met some of you, and I was surprised to discover I wasn’t afraid that you knew about my past. It was refreshing to be honest for someone who lived an illusion for so long.
Throughout 2013 I worked two jobs and nearly 80 hours a week to save up money for a new and true adventure. It began in small steps by cutting out the nights of drinking. It then included cutting off dining out and drinking Starbucks except for one cheat day a week. Cutting out those luxuries allowed me to work harder and begin saving money. I set small goals per week to put into the bank instead of a large end goal that might make it seem impossible. Saving became addicting. The new drug of choice.
By the end of the summer, I had saved $8,500 in 6 months even after buying my plane ticket to Thailand and new camera equipment to forward my passion. It felt for the first time like a true self accomplishment.
For the first time in years I was proud of myself.
ANOTHER FEAT CONQUERED //
After I shared my personal memoirs with you, and read your constant responses and support, it drove me to conquer another feat. I gained the courage to confront my brother who had disowned me for wanting to travel. I told him all of the darkness I struggled with since our father had died, and all of the events that had happened. About how I invented a life to show him and the world that I was better.
At the dinner, the conclusions was shocking because confronting him brought us closer than ever. For the first time in my life he told me he was proud of me, and that he was excited for this upcoming trip because he believed I was now in the right mind.
That nearly brought me to tears to hear that from my only direct blood left. The same brother who years before said that if I left the United States, I wouldn’t be his brother anymore. Just after our father’s death.
I was in the right mindset for once. I was driven for myself and not to prove others wrong. I was working to further my dream. I had purpose.
2013 ended with me landing on my birthday in Thailand to start a new adventure.
Though I’ve been bounced around a lot not knowing where to go, I don’t feel as if I’m living for someone else or some other purpose. I’m lost in the right direction.
TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE //
I still do not making New Year Resolutions, and I still don’t make bucket lists or goals. Though, daily goals or daily resolutions are something I feel to be the key to succeeding with your aspirations.
Like the way I save for each trip — I started small and those small goals I accomplish daily snowball into me traveling abroad again.
These smaller steps each day will gradually build up to something bigger, but I still do not know what that big picture is. That’s okay, you have to let go of knowing. I’m confident that by not setting some large daunting goal, it will be much easier to excel to something bigger in the end for you and I.
It’ll be hard and exhausting, but we can do it.
Most of 2013 was a year in the grind in the United States working my arse off to travel again. And though I didn’t have month long adventures, I did travel more than I had in the past (which wasn’t much).
But I discovered that these micro-adventures can keep your positive mojo pumping and your adventure spirit high while you are doing what you must to travel again.
A CALL TO ARMS //
2012 and 2013 had so many ups and such far downs. Everyone experiences them in life. I’m not unique, but those struggles are something I’d gladly live without. No matter the magnitude of problems, stress, heartbreak, doubt, pain, loss, or just plain bad days — we all go through the gauntlet of life.
One persons struggle in life to live the way they deserve should never be measured as easier or harder — we all go through something. Some hell. The difference is that we can all offer a sort of life preserver to keep someone afloat. We can pull them upright so they can keep moving forward. We can be by their side giving them confidence and shouting “you can fucking do it!” because in turn, they will get your back when you are down.
We can all be one awesome army of people choosing to live a life fulfilled — one not restricted by the confines of societies requirements and rules. A life each person deserves to have, one of their dreams. I believe we weren’t formed of this universe to be used as autonomous robots of production and consumption. We are here to love, create, explore, help others, better the earth, and actually live.
Start daily goals that are going to lead you to your dream. Step by step, small or large, you will get there if you want it.
You’ve gotta’ want it bad though my friends.
Nobody on this planet can measure effort, the only thing that can be measured is how many times others have given up.
So don’t give up.
Fiercely go forth conquering every obstacle in your way through the sweat, tears, and bloody hell of it!
Nothing worth doing is easy. And nothing easy is worth doing.
You all are a pillar of strength this year for me as I march toward my dream. I hope this community will evolve into one where we all are supporting and inspiring each other.
Because you inspire me.
HAVE YOU EVER STRUGGLED AFTER RETURNING HOME FROM A TRIP?