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I sit here in my office at the hostel I now run, coffee in hand thinking back on where I’ve been and where I am today. I should be doing some filing or at least prepare next week’s schedule, but it’s Sunday and my body knowingly goes into lazy mode.

I am a month away from my 41st and what a crazy year it has been. It all started around this time last year. (read also: How to Find Yourself on a tiny island). I was nearing 40 and had a sudden revelation that I was not doing any of the things that make me happy. I was too busy living for everyone else, being the person everyone around me wanted me to be. I’ve always been a very adapting person but there is a thin line between being adapting and being someone you’re not. So I rebelled and demanded to be heard. If it wasn’t for my love for food I would have probably gone on a hunger strike too. Anything to make myself be heard. I now realize that behavior was more a scream for help than anything else. Help me find myself.

My poor husband suffered (and still is suffering) the brunt of it. He and I were always complete opposites. It was like Paula Abdul used us as inspiration for her hit song “Opposites Attract”. We cannot be more different. He wants to build a house, I’d rather rent. He is a morning person and I will kill anyone who speaks to me before my first cup of coffee. I make the bed and he steals the covers. The list goes on and on. Yet, 14 years later here we are. Some days he is the best thing to ever happen to me and other times I just want to run away screaming. But I guess that is what marriage is. It is still two complete different individuals trying to live their lives together.

This last year especially I have done a lot of soul searching and though I yet have to find the answers to all of my questions, I am definitely starting to know more about myself. It is nice to see this person materialize after such a long sleep. I’ve become more outspoken and honest instead of always cautious of hurting someone’s feelings. It is simple things like speaking up about the restaurant I want to eat at.

I closed down my event planning business much to the disappointment of those around me. It just no longer brought me joy. In fact it made me into this insecure, always miserable bitch. It is amazing how liberating it is when you stop caring what others think of you or how they view you. I opted to help my husband run our hostel in the meantime. Not something I would have chosen myself but at the moment it is a necessary evil in my life.

I started a blog and realized in doing so that I have a passion for writing (who would have thought?). Spirituality has become more important while possessions and money are no longer considered the ultimate things in my life. Don’t get me wrong, one of my goals remains gaining financial stability so I can pursue my dreams of traveling the world but things like the latest fashion, being with the in-crowd or spending money at clubs no longer satisfy me.

What a difference a year makes

I came to the realization that although I have traveled a lot I have not done the type of travel I would like to do. I always went where my husband or friends decided we go to and did the things others wanted to do when at that destination, which in my husband’s case consists mostly of eating at as many restaurants as possible. We spent a week in New York City for example without seeing much of the city at all. I don’t blame him though. He works hard and when he goes on vacation he wants to go into complete relax mode instead of being dragged all over the place to see things he doesn’t really care to see. I on the other hand want to experience what the locals experience. Be a New Yorker in New York, a Colombian in Bogotá, a Canadian in Toronto or a Belgian in Antwerp. I guess my husband is a tourist and I am a traveler.

Curiosity is the main reason I am making my first ever solo trip in my forties. That and the fact that I can’t get my husband to do the type of travel I want to do. I also want to see what I am made of. Can I do it? Will I survive being completely by myself for a week or two? Will it change me? Will it make me grow away from my husband or will it bring us closer together? So many questions, so much doubt. There is just one way to find out, I guess. Jump into the unknown and swim.

Sometimes I feel like I have wasted a lot of time being someone I am not. But getting lost makes for the best adventures. It is ok to start at 40. It is ok to put your foot down when you don’t want something. It is ok not to be liked by everyone. It is ok not to want to have children. It is ok to be a little selfish. It is ok to say NO and it is definitely ok to be yourself.

I figured life is all about Ups and Downs. It is up to no one else but you to create more Ups or in the least a good balance between the two. After all, the Downs are necessary to make you appreciate the Ups even more.

TTIG