“No matter where you go, there you are.” ~Confucius
“Create a life you don’t need to escape from” Part 1, Part 2 and now 3. “Create a life you don’t WANT to escape from”, “Don’t Run from life, Run Towards It”. There is a theme in a lot of my blogs and posts on Instagram. But here I go again because I feel like there is even more to say on this topic.
“It’s learning how to ride the roller coaster of life…”
Let me clarify, I am not implying that travel is the only thing I’m referring to when I say “escaping” from life. Creating a life you don’t need or want to escape/run from, starts at home. It starts by learning to deal with your emotions rather than trying to push them away or run from them. It’s not working 16 hours a day to hide from dealing with your other parts of life, it’s not picking up the glass of wine as a means to escape and it’s not hopping on a plane thinking the ocean will wash your troubles away.
It’s figuring out how to get yourself out of your funk when life gets hard, it’s learning how to ride the roller coaster of life, embracing the highs and positively handling the lows so they don’t consume you…and this process is different for all of us.
Travel does not always equal escaping. It can, if you are trying to run from your life, but the reality is you can try to escape or run from life by sitting in the comfort of your living room or your office. You can try to escape the realities of life by opening up a bottle of wine and drinking your emotions away, binge watching a TV series on Netflix so you’re not dealing with the world around you, or by avoiding difficult conversations or shutting people out because it’s easier than facing the realities of life.
“I passed out on my couch again…”
A year and a half ago I was startled awake by the music from the Tonight Show on my TV. I fell asleep on my couch again, well let me rephrase that, I passed out on my couch again. It was a Tuesday night, after another long day of dealing with the difficult realities that come with a divorce and a boss I was struggling with. The only thing I could think of doing when I got home from work was having a glass of wine – that turned into two, then three and then polishing off the entire bottle.
After my separation, I was trying everything I could to stop hurting. I was in therapy, I was reading self-help book after self-help book, I was running, going to the gym, drinking too much. With a small network of friends and very little energy to do much after a long day of work, I would, more often than not, find myself on my couch with a glass of wine in hand, wanting to escape and numb the pain. The problem was, it never worked.
I was constantly looking for ways to escape the reality of my life. I kept telling myself “This wasn’t my plan”, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be in my life”, “This is not how it’s supposed to be”. At that time rather than accepting that I couldn’t change the past, I turned to travel, alcohol or excessive exercise to try and “fix me” by running away, exhausting myself or numbing the pain.
When I finally realized what I was doing, something inside of me clicked and that was when I changed my plan. I decided to creating a life I didn’t want to escape from and I knew that was going to entail many things:
- Enjoy the beautiful state I live in [Paddle boarding: CHECK, Snow shoeing alone: CHECK!]
- Get out of my comfort zone [introvert at heart, talking to strangers is a new skill I’ve found]
- Expand my network of friends and invest more in the network I have [In progress]
- Explore and try new things [Tap dancing, more to come]
- Start using some of the skills I have learned in my self-help book readings and counseling. Implementing the self-care techniques I know are necessary.
- Cut back on drinking. No more drinking alone during the week to try to numb after a long day.
- Using travel as a way to re-energize, grow and connect with myself. No longer a way of escaping my life. Making a list of intentions for my travels before I go and a list of what I’m excited to return home to.
- Change up my day to day so it isn’t “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”. (Tips from previous blog here)
Creating a life you don’t need or want to escape from is different for everyone. I know many people that don’t like to travel, it actually stresses them out and isn’t a means of escape. Escape for them is drinking 5 vodka sodas, working 16 hours a day, playing video games, binge watching TV or going to the gym for 4 hours so they can escape the “real world” crap that they know deep inside they need to deal with.
Traveling makes me happy, wine in moderation makes me happy, running makes me happy (among many other things). However, I have learned how to travel to not escape my life, and I have learned that drinking a bottle of wine after a hard day only leaves me depressed with a hangover.
Only you can create that life that you don’t want to escape from and are happy living every day (ok let’s be realistic, “most” days). As I said in my blog Choices, Chances, Changes, “Having control of your life doesn’t mean that you have control over everything that happens in your life. Sometimes life makes choices for us that we aren’t happy with and we get caught up in the fact that we didn’t choose that specific thing that happened to us, rather than how we are going to respond.”
Most of us want to feel fulfilled, proud, happy, joy, success and accomplishment in life. Knowing we will not feel those things daily and will always have ups and downs helps minimize the desire to negetivly escape. Life is a long ass journey but trying to escape it (in whatever fashion), is not living – it’s getting by.
“It’s normal and natural from time-to-time to want to “take a break” or “escape” because life gets hard…”
Escaping in any fashion whether it is traveling, immersing yourself in long hours of work, drinking alcohol, or avoiding difficult conversations won’t help you get through your struggles. It’s normal and natural from time-to-time to want to “take a break” or “escape” because life gets hard. However, during your break to catch your breath or clear your mind, I’d suggest:
- Give yourself a time limit on how much time you need.
- Use that time to not push the hard realities away and pretend they aren’t real or need worked through. Figure out a plan of how you want to work through them.
I can tell you from personal experience, you can’t run or hide from life and you can only numb the pain for so long. Once you start facing those struggles or hard situations instead of trying to escape, it’s empowering.
Just saying these things sound nice but it takes work, I know. It has taken me awhile to get to where I am at. If you are willing to put in the work, you will get there; loving the life you have, not wanting to escape your day-to-day reality – whether it is 1000 miles away or on your couch.
Remember, You Got This!
Damn, J, that’s what you look like after crashing on the couch?? I wish I looked that good when I was *trying*! Great post, as always. By the sounds of things, I got this! But really, it’s you who’s got this.
Thank you Colin! You do GOT THIS!
“Trying to escape [life] is not living life – it’s getting by”…love that sentence, it’s so true! As convenient as it is to just forget/escape the issues life throws your way, they’ll always come back to bite you in the ass when you return to reality.
One of my favorite quotes when life gets tough is “When you’re going through hell, keep going”. Short, simple and straight to the point…when life sucks, be persistent and keep pushing through. Like you said, it will be work, but eventually you’ll get through it, and you’ll be happier in the end with the life you created for yourself (rather than accepting the life you settled for).
As always, such a pleasure to read your posts!
“When you are going through hell, keep going”…I love it!