A few years ago i started the greatest adventure of all: to get to know my deepest myself. Things are hard to reverse once you follow that path.
Bali, 12 April 2016I was an insecure kid.
My family counts a pretty large number of 6kids: 3 boys, 3 girls.
I am the 5th and i have a younger sister. It looks like the perfect family.
My brothers and sisters are all graduated, married and four of them have heirs.
That makes 12 nephews... you can picture our Christmas drama.
My two brothers are both married, dads, employed and successful. The two bigger sister are moms of beautiful families and the youngest is a worker and a wife to a very nice guy.
Me? Sometimes I made poor choices. Some other i just wasn't like them. I have my own life and story.
I do not regret any of that. I do not envy my older brothers for being so successful, I do not feel the shame for not having my own family at 37.
But there was a time i did.
I felt compared to my brothers my whole life. When I was just a kid my father would take their school grades to place them on a table next to mine. They had tens, i had sixes. You can pair a ten, but you cannot beat it.
He didn't mean to do me wrong, he was trying to show me that there is a way to get to good scores.
I didn't get it and I started growing up feeling "not good enough".
When i dropped out on uni i started my own company. I now run a web-agency named OPPOSITE and our portfolio is great!
However a few years ago my insecurities and inner restlessness started knocking strong at the door of my soul: even if I was successful at my job, at the sports i chose and had (and still have) long time strong friendships, i was not happy with myself. Something was missing.
I thought i needed someone in my life. That is the most common and terrible mistake someone can ever make: looking for happiness in someone else's hands.
I ended up with a girl that made me feel even more miserable than how i did before, never appreciating a singe thing i did or offered her.
I asked her to move in with me, but the house was not big enough.
We moved to a new place, but the forniture wouldn't be fancy enough.
I gave her a ring to ask her to be with me her whole life, but the ring wasn't expensive enough.
I could keep going, but i won't.
Again, i was feeling not "good enough".
When we broke up i collapsed. All my demons came up at once and they were strangling an already weakened soul.
I had to do something about it. Nothing was helping me, i was free falling (in a non positive way).
It all started in a very precise moment: when i started taking care of myself.
It was not easy, it was not immediate, but even the longest of journeys starts from a first small step and it paid back in the long run.
After looking for help from a professional, I understood i needed to get trust in myself back.
After a deeper look inside, i did something i never did before: travel to an unknown country entirely by myself. That was my first brick into the rebuilding of me.
[ PS note: Being able to admit I needed help was probably the first real step toward a better life, nothing to feel ashamed about. If i kept telling myself "i am strong, i can do it with no help", it would've led to a total disaster. I see a lot of people making this mistake everyday. ]
I am not talking about a trip to a place where someone is waiting for you. I don't mean a long term vacation your daddy is paying for you.
Taking care of yourself starts from being responsible for your own.
So with the money i had on my account, after a little research on airbnb for a cheap accommodation, i packed my surfboard and some clothes, paid my ticket and boarder. I'd been dreaming of Bali since i was 16, but nobody would ever go with me. 18 years later i was cruising on my own on a Thai Airlines flight directed to Denpasar.
NOTE: I am not going to talk about Bali, i am going to write about the experience the Islands of Gods was for me.
In a few days i found out that traveling solo is the best!
It opens up chances, it will give the opportunity to meet more people, to dare more, to go wherever you feel without having to adjust to others's people annoying commodities.
Bali was amazing, full of energy, respect, love and good vibes.
The people I met filled my heart with joy.
The experiences i lived gave me hope.
I finally was positive again.
I found out that is not that special traveling solo, there are so many people doing it, and they all love the uniqueness of it.
I met Leandro from Argentina, and Kazuya the coolest Japanese yoga teacher who gave us a free sunset session right on the beach of Balangan, one of the sweetest beaches of the island. It felt like pure magic.
Rayen is a Dutch guy who was staying at my same Warung and decided to go get lost with our scooters in the mist of Bali. We had so much fun just randomly picking our next destination, watching the Oakly Pro Masters in Keramas, joinging beach parties in Padang Pagang, discovering the magic of Jimbaran fish market.
Until we actually did get lost and ran out of gas riding through the rice fields of a town not far from Ubud. Locals helped us out, they were surprised to see us, but welcoming and with excitement invited us to their ceremony (not one of those touristic shows, we were actually the only foreing guys in the temple, with kids laughing for our presence and to what to them must have looked like weird clothes).
There we met Gusti Nyoman, the only Italian speaking balinese man on the entire island. That was a funny coincidence!
In Uluwatu I finally paddled out through the cave at high tide to surf the amazing waves of the ocean. That was one of my wildest dreams since i was a youngster. I almost broke my nose that day when a wave slammed my board to my face. At that point i realized the problem was not getting out of the cave, but to get back with a big set of waves crushing on your spine.
On the peaceful paddies of Ubud i stopped into a small warung. A cooking lesson was about to start. I thought i would join in. I learned to cook with spices i never saw before. Ubud is the hub for many yoga enthusiasts and soul seekers. I sat at tables with total strangers, enjoyed the company of different travelers, and shared stories with all of them.
I could breath peace in the scents that float in the friendly air, while staring at the most beautiful sunsets i could ever witness.
I learned an amazing lesson from Tara, a young French yoga teacher making her living in Bali since she was 21. Without needing me to say a word, just feeling my vibe she admonished me: "Stop being a mama's boy". She kept inspiring me: "you are a creator, you can build your own future".
There is another important thing i learnt: happiness is not a place (even is Bali is pretty close, ahah). If you travel to find happiness, you better have the finances to roam forever looking for it, because you'll hardly find it.
I was not in Bali for the magnificent island it is, i was there for another magnificent island, and that island was me.
That was just one little step into my long research and i am still on the path.
That trip did not dissolve my demons, my fears where not gone forever after it, but it was the first small step on the most important journey of my life.
Since then many more steps were made and i have now enough self-reliance to take decisions without feeling the need to have somebody's else approval. I call independence.
Whenever i tell someone i am going to take off for a solo-trip, I receive the same questions:
"Won't you feel miserable?"
"Won't you feel lonely?"
"Won't you be scared?"
Yes you will, and facing those fears is the best gift you can ever give yourself.