What can be a more amazing travel journey than life itself? Think about this question. It is important.
Each of us is born on this planet for a certain purpose. We all have a certain mission to realize in life.
It can be anything: creating a family, becoming a banker or spending one’s whole life on the road. The most important thing is to know: this is what you are supposed to do.
Quite often, unfortunately, many of us do not have this feeling – the feeling of wholeness, the feeling of belonging, the feeling of happiness. Instead we perform, or procrastinate or try to conform to certain rules imposed on us by society, without stopping for a second and asking ourselves: am I content? Am I doing what I really want to do?
Realizing our full potential and finding our true self is the true travel journey of life.
Not long ago, when I was yet again changing countries of residence, a friend of mine told me a very important thing:
“Ekaterina,” he said, “I know why you are moving, but never forget that whatever your destination, you always take yourself with you. Finding yourself is your true destination.”
The Road Ahead
For more than ten years my life has been that of a traveler. Even though for the majority of these ten years I had an apartment and a steady job, I was still traveling. I was traveling in my mind, I was changing countries and I was always looking for a better place, a better world.
Being born in the Soviet Union, in my first years of life I had quite a simple image of what life should be: first you become a pioneer (the first grade on the scale of communism), then a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcomsomol’ (the second grade on the scale of communism) and finally, if you are the best, you become a communist.
My gradation stopped at the first scale, along with that simple vision of reality as soon as the political regime changed.
However, what didn’t change was the belief that in order to succeed in society one has to perform, one has to Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgraduate’. The goal was no longer a final communist grade; it became something else, but it all came down to the same gradation system the majority of us are taught to achieve – almost from the day we are born.
You have to do this, you have to become that, you have to be better and work harder than others, and you have to be like everyone else. Because of these rules, slowly but surely we tend to take a road opposite to our true destination.
At some point in my life I achieved my Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcommunist’ grade. I was leading a life many people would find ideal.
With a title of financial analyst and portfolio manager, living in the center of Amsterdam, speaking four languages and in possession of a membership in the most prestigious sport club of the city, I had everything one can wish for in life. But in reality I had nothing at all.
I was losing myself, I was simply performing, thinking that life is about having a prestigious job, a cool apartment and a nice salary. And only my terrible stomach pains and the crying during the night were clear indicators that the ‘ideal’ life I led was actually quite miserable.
One day I decided to create my own gradation system, or to be more precise, the absence of any gradation system. I stopped performing.
First, I canceled my membership to the sport club. Second, I changed jobs, agreeing to a lower salary and a less prestigious title simply to allow myself to find my own journey. Third, I started to write.
Being in love with books all my life I always wanted to share stories, and regardless of whether I am an unpublished or published writer, writing for myself is something that gives me the best satisfaction of all.
Finally, I started to follow the signs – the signs of life, trying to see who am I, what I am doing in this life and why?
I asked myself: what do I really like to do?
Journey of Wonder
The discovery of signs led me to an important realization: Life is a journey of wonder.
If I stayed in my gradation niche I would probably never have discovered bio-dance as a perfect alternative to the gym, gentle respiration techniques to make me calm and Tarot reading as a perfect activity for spending time when I am on my own.
All this resulted in the fact that, yet again, I changed my country of residence. I moved from Amsterdam to Brussels, the city where I had gone to university and where I couldn’t stay after my studies due to my Russian citizenship at that time.
I came back to this city without a grade, with a Dutch passport and as a new person. I realized one of the most important lessons in life: whatever your nationality, profession, salary or the net amount your house costs, the only real thing in life is you.
All stories have the same line. A hero leaves his village for the discovery of the world.
His first obstacle comes when he is on the road: he has to choose his destination. His second obstacle is during the journey. He has to fight the enemies. And finally, he has the most important choice: does he continue the journey or go back to the village?
We are all heroes on the road. And the most important journey for all of us is to meet our true selves. Apart from external enemies, quite often the biggest villain lies within, and this villain in the majority of cases is our own ego. Finding our soul and realizing our true potential is where our village lies.
As Paolo Coelho once said: “Never give up on your dreams, – follow the signs.”
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Ekaterina was born in Moscow, but has lived in four different countries. Her name, pronounced as N-E-T-C-H-I-T-A-I-L-O-V-A literally means 'unreadable' in Russian. Quite a pity since her biggest passion in life is writing. That apart from her family, speaking and learning different beautiful languages, listening to nice music, having fun and enjoying occasional naps and dancing. Or, and in between, when she does find time, she works on her PhD thesis in sociology.