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Ekaterina rejects her Communist childhood, full of pressure to conform, and creates the life she always wanted. But first, she had to leave home to find it.

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.

The most important thing is to know: this is what you are supposed to do.

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 ‘comsomol’ (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 ‘graduate’. 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.

A Reflection

At some point in my life I achieved my ‘communist’ 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.

I was losing myself, I was simply performing, thinking that life is about having a prestigious job, a cool apartment and a nice salary.

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.”

Ekaterina Petrovna’s current goal in life is to become a Porcupine. In the animal spirit world this animal represents rediscovery of wonder and trust in the Great spirit. She has a degree in interpreting and speaks 4 languages. In her spare time Ekaterina writes, reads Tarot cards, dances like crazy, laughs, and tries to make this world a better place to live.



About The Author

Ekaterina Petrovna

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.

  • Víctor Alonso

    Thanks for your interesting post. I am a 31 years old spanish man and I have been living now in Buenos Aires for a travel adventure that I started two years ago. I folow muy dreams and now I get to publish my first travel book only in spanihs for now. I hope that many people “listen” your words.

    “Never give up on your dreams, – follow the signs.”

    Best regards,

    Víctor Alonso

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Brilliant! Surely you’ve read “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell? He speaks of the same topics as you – the struggle of the hero in the mythic sense.

    May I offer a quote from director Paul Sills, from the book “Something Wonderful Right Away,” which discusses the art of improvisational acting:

    “People suffer from fantastic restrictions on their ability to affect. They’re graded, stacked in categories of excellence, measured against all kinds of nonsensical standards….

    “The confirmation of their own existence must come to people or they find it in negative ways such as delinquency or apathy or reactionary behavior, the shrinking of the person from the common good, cynicism, denial, and so on.”

    I wish you luck on your journey home, wherever you may find or make it. Such is the lot of an alchemist. =)

    Udachi, i spasibo! (Good luck, and thank you!)

  • Stephen Chapman

    Sensational article Ekaterina. Inspires.

  • Tim Patterson

    This story is a real gem. Well done, and thank you!

  • Ekaterina Petrovna

    Thank you for all your comments. Indeed each of us faces restrictions, and has to decide at some point: to go beyond or to stay in prison?
    The Alchemist of Paolo Coelho speaks exactly of finding the ‘internal’ treasure, the freedom from within, which often lies in front of our eyes, but not many see it.

  • Olivia Giovetti

    Beautiful article–Pazdravlyayu!

  • Michael Charton

    Thank you for the article. You never know where the road will take you. At least you discovered this when you were younger.
    In my case, it took being laid off from a high level job and moving to a new place.

    It is like having a second childhood.

  • Kango Suz

    Amazing, truly inspiring. As much as I love travel, it is truly this ‘life journey’ that holds my true energy and passion. Thanks for reminding me not to get lost in the doing…

  • Emily Hansen

    I recall a quote from Lauren Hill: “The real you is better than the fake someone else.”

    Whenever I am pulled in by the “comfort” that complacency or conformity brings- whether via a political system or a social one, I realize that it is me who has to deal with the cying jags at night…yes, I relate. All pain is the gateway to something bigger and more wonderful, if we dare to be aware.

    We travel and open ourselves up to the world because we know that somewhere within us is the capability to live our dreams. I have met a few people born in your situation, who have grown to become renegades, for themselves, and not to “prove” anything to anyone else, but simply to be true to themselves.

    Well done Ekaterina. Words that wake us up!

  • Antonio Ramos

    I just want to say that this text is totally incredible, even if you don´t want, with this text I believe you are inspiring a lot of people (including me) to start to look into himshelf and check their actually life-style, to see if this is the “correct” one, I mean, the one they really want to follow or if it is time to begin a new life.

    Thank you so much.

    “Never give up on your dreams, – follow the signs.”

  • Leonid Gavrilov

    Posive “pros” for journey and dream – you live and fight for it.
    Negative cons is simple as life of fighting hero after success – he need another dream or journey.

    Perfect article!

  • Renée Blanchet

    Hello Ekaterine,
    Your story is beautiful, inspiring and shows a lot of guts, especially the courage to go back inside again and again to find out if you’re still on track.
    I certainly relate to the crying bouts that are such excellent indicators that it’s time to move on, whether geographically, mentally, emotion and spiritually.
    It’s always the transition time that’s the most demanding but once decisions are made… then it gets so juicy! And as I age, the cycles repeat to show the opening of yet new paths.
    Bonne route et pour longtemps!
    Renée Blanchet

  • Roldan F. Smith

    Beautiful article, Ekaterine. Thank you so much for sharing your storing with us. I am honored to have come across it. May you continue to live a life of wonder and inspire others to do so as well!

    namaste, Roldan

    “The box that many choose to live in order to insulate themselves due to fear of the outside world often forget that they are not only the prisoner but also the warden and actually possess the key to setting their own selves free.” -Allen Owen

  • El Bolson

    I like your style and agree that you're views reflect sentiments of the great Joseph Campbell's work – which is brilliant as well.

  • Tim Patterson

    I love this article more every time I read it. Inspiring, Ekaterina.

  • Ekaterina

    Thank you Tim!

  • Refael

    its in this era,when individualizem rised so high,
    so people started to lose meaning and had to search themselfs to prove
    they are uniqe and worthy.
    very good writing my friend

  • Constantijn van Rens

    Hai Katia, Did you finally find your destination, and do you follow the signs. So what do they say?

  • Julia Abutalipova

    Katja, what a brilliant article! Thank you so much for sharing it with us… I can relate so many things from your story to myself…

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