To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve had this blog for two and a half years. There’s a PayPal button on the side and bottom, but it’s really just lurking there, unused. It’s rarely touched, and when it is it’s a way for friends and family to toss me a little bit of money.
Imagine my surprise when I checked my PayPal account the day after my birthday to find that a complete stranger had sent me $50! I immediately sent her an email thanking her.
Her beautifully phrased, kind words made me smile as I sat bored and grumpy on a bus across Germany. I’d grown tired of hitchhiking over the past few weeks – I’ve been moving so fast, hitching so much. Plus motorways are just driving me insane. How many different highways do you need, Europe?! I had decided on a two week hitching hiatus so as to regain my strength before my Irish adventure begins.
But something in this email struck me. “I know you must feel so fortunate doing what you get to do,” one line read.
I’d been growling to myself on the bus, craving a cigarette, trying to find a comfy position to sleep in despite not being tired. I was mildly pissed off over something mildly piss off worthy. I was alone and feeling lonely. I had spent too much money over the last week, which was a tad concerning.
You could say it wasn’t exactly a moment I felt fortunate.
I thought about her words.
I see beautiful places, but sometimes I reach them with an aching back from my massive backpack (who I affectionately refer to as Beast) with no ability to climb said thing. Even if “climb” is actually “walk on flat ground for 20 more minutes”.
Many a sunset I’ve watched without anyone to share it with.
I often get invited out to drink by strangers… But I have no money to partake.
Same goes for delicious dinners, as I sadly sulk away from the offer of company in favor of having a granola bar for dinner all by myself.
So many cold nights have come my way while I’m far too poor to do anything but suck it up, and find a place to camp.
See, quite often I feel the very opposite of fortunate, like when the wind is howling and the ground beneath my sleeping bag is freezing and uneven and I’m wondering why the hell I refuse to break down and buy a foam to place underneath me.
But the thing is, this girl was totally right. I AM fortunate. And it’s not because I get to travel the world, constantly seeing new places and meeting beautiful human beings.
No, I’m fortunate for my ability to align my life with the path I was born for.
I’m fortunate because I’m able to listen to that little me inside, even when she goes against all reason. I’m able to follow what feels right no matter what friends, family, or society as a whole might judge of me or my decisions.
I’m fortunate because I’m not scared to be ME.
I’m fortunate because I know who I am, and I refuse to be anyone but her, for the cost of being someone I’m not is far higher than the payoff could ever be.
So give me my grumpy bus ride. Give me my 40°C days stuck on a motorway awaiting heatstroke. Give me every last shiver on those cold nights in the tent.
And give me my lonely sunsets. I’ll take ’em. I’ll take every one of them.
They aren’t why I’m fortunate, but my fortune grants me every little bit of my life – from the stunning landscapes and beautiful human beings I encounter, right down to the hungry days and freezing nights. My fortune gives me the life that was always meant for me. And I love every bit of it.
…even on grumpy bus rides.