Sometimes, going home is all you need to see how far you’ve come.

Ninth grade partying / Photo: Ashley Sebrell

I spent this past weekend surrounded by old high school friends. One was getting married (the one sitting in the chair in the photo to the right), and his wedding brought quite a few of our old “group” together.

There is something special about seeing people that knew you way back when. Probably the more time that passes, and the older a person gets, the more special it seems.

You tend to look back on the good times more than the challenging ones. At the rehearsal dinner, I began to think about those days of field parties in the country, fast food lunches, and…bouts of drastic depression. Ok, some of the bad stuff crept back in.

I’ve changed in innumerable ways since then (Frosty’s are no longer a part of my vocabulary, and bawling for hours on end is thankfully an occurrence of the past), yet, unlike the usual dwelling followed by patting myself on the back for how much I’ve “evolved,” this thought process stopped abruptly. I realized I no longer needed to think about how much I’ve changed.

Why was this the case? For the last 10 years, I’ve been trying to prove (to myself more than anyone else) how far I’ve come, how much more worthy I am. So what really is so different?

My spirit.

The Importance of Belief

I now believe that connecting to our spirit is the key to really and truly falling in love with ourselves.

I now believe that connecting to our spirit is the key to really and truly falling in love with ourselves.

It’s often hard to see that many of us look outside of ourselves for that blessing of self worth. We’re pretty much taught from day one that what counts is what other people think and feel about us, so who is really to blame here? Plus, for the most part, we can’t even see that this is our approach.

A long conversation with one friend about his own struggle with finding himself, and his worries over what we remembered and thought about his antics in high school, forced that click of recognition.

l now feel in my bones something that has been said to me time and time again over those last 10 years: to have others look at you with appreciation, you must first appreciate yourself. And the way to attain that appreciation for the self and connect to spirit is to gain some understanding of all those other people out there roaming the earth.

Traveling Spirit

Three months after I graduated from college, I left North Carolina for California. I didn’t know why or what I was going to do; I just knew I had to get out of there.

A much more refined (and less blurry) group / Photo: Jim Ernst

I can now understand what I thought was a drive in me to explore the “unknown” was simply a gentle, intuitive knowing of a process to find my spirit.

The same is not necessarily true for everyone, though I think the generation I find myself a part of seems to have this drive – or gentle knowing – in droves (just take a quick look around Matador).

We often discuss both inner and outer travel here at BNT. This can mean different things to different people, and really can be found in any direction you look. But how exactly did outer travel help me connect to my spirit?

For me, trekking to new places has been about normalizing myself, in a way. As my friend John put it last weekend, I was “always searching for something.” What was cloaked in self-esteem issues was actually my spirit’s ‘gentle approach’ to essentially making me move my ass.

I was propelled to find out how to feel normal, and even possibly – gasp! – truly appreciated. At the same time, I learned to not worry so much about what others thought (or what I think they thought) about me.

Sharing the Desire for Contentment

Whether glancing around at the expats doting the Globe cafe in Prague, or being the only white woman dancing to old school Michael Jackson at a club in Lusaka, Zambia, I began sensing a pattern of purpose.

Even the “enemy” is just searching for a little happiness, contentment and peace in their life.

The more I travel, the more people I meet, the more I feel at my stomach’s base that we are all just trying to eek out some happiness, contentment, and peace in this life.

I admit, it is still sometimes hard to feel connected in a strong political climate where I don’t agree with what the majority (or vocal minority) want. But if you get to the root, even the “enemy” is just searching for a little happiness, contentment and peace in their life, working toward it in the way they know best.

All the places and people I have seen and met, a mere dent in the globe as compared to many of you reading this, led me to return to that place in which I never felt “normal”: home. Only this time, I found myself in full appreciation of those people, my teenage years, and any abnormality I ever felt.

And that, my friends, comes from the power of spirit.

How have you felt returning home after a long journey? Share your thoughts below.

Feature photo
: tipiro