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From Shoes to Sandals and Back Again …

It’s taking me a long time, but I think I’m slowly finding my way back.

Since leaving Thailand, I have honestly been so lost, in more ways than one. But the biggest piece of me that has been difficult to bring back has been my sense of self. That confidence that I once had in myself and my ability to be a part of something bigger.

I’ve lost my community and with it everything that I once stood for and believed in.

But this isn’t the first time that I’ve had to make this kind of transition. I’ve had to move around a lot. City to city. House to house. Job to job. Friend group to friend group. Over time I’ve grown accustomed to having to reposition myself and transition. And yet, for some reason, this time it feels different. Like I’m not as flexible as I used to be when it comes to getting used to the change. My mind is getting stuck on things that I used to be and can no longer stay focused on the present and what it is that I am trying to become.

I’m stuck staring at an image of myself that I am slowly starting to loathe the sight of.

And it’s crazy because now more than ever, I have the freedom to do what I want, be who I want, go where I want, buy what I want … the world is my motherf*cking oyster, which I think, oddly enough, is the problem. I’m not used to having what it is that I want. Growing up in a big family, being a poor college student, being an even poorer graduate student, working as a teacher in a failing urban school to working as a Peace Corps volunteer in the middle of the Manang jungle. This is the first time in my life really where I don’t have to think about anyone other than myself if I don’t want to, and it has honestly been the most difficult experience of my life. Mainly, I think, because I am slowly starting to discover that I don’t know who it is others want me to be if I can’t do something for them. I’m a sucker for service. I feel like doing things for other people brings me closer to them. And who I am, my self-worth, has become attached to this notion that if I give up what it is that I want in favor of what it is that another person wants, I can make them like me … maybe even love me – which sounds kind of nice I know, but in reality looks like you forgetting what it means to do things for you.

I feel like everything I do has the ulterior motive of trying to gain someone’s approval.

Especially now, here, in the big city, where selfishness is success. And yet that selfishness is attached to this same need to please. I’m lost, unsure of where one line ends and the other begins. What do people want if they don’t want you to do things for them, to not seem so “desperate” and simple? How is it that you can learn to complicate your life so that there is that added mysterious element of being there but not at the same time? Focused on yourself, untethered, uncommitted, and yet somehow still desirable?

I’m confused right now by the way the world actually works. When I moved to Thailand, I started wearing sandals for the first time, which for me, signified a big change. A move from caring so much about me and really just going all out on a feeling that caring about others mattered so much more. That it would bring me more fulfillment and happiness. But now, I feel like everything I learned and practiced is somehow no longer right. That fulfillment and happiness cannot be achieved merely by giving up yourself and all the things that you want. There needs to be a balance. Who you are is not attached to your desires, but they are still a part of you. And they are important. The world doesn’t need you to give up everything so much as it needs you to know and love yourself enough to understand what it is that you have to offer. Which means that wearing sandals all the time really isn’t all that necessary. And so here I am now, making the move …

From shoes, to sandals, and back again in the hopes of making some “new” rediscoveries.

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