Yeah, the singer. Like I’m actually a pretty big John Mayer fan (of both his music and his Instagram commentary). I know most of the words to most of his songs, but sometimes I just won’t listen to him for months at a time. But JMay (do people call him that) always beckons eventually.
Today was one of those days.
As I began a walk with the dogs, something struck me and I pulled up This is John Mayer on Spotify and settled in. I was listening to Still Feel Like Your Man and these lyrics jumped out at me:
still think I’m never gonna find another you
And for some reason, after hearing those lyrics a hundred times before, the truth of the statement just really hit me in the gut. I think that’s the hardest part of any breakup, and the reason so many struggle through on again, off again relationships. We’re so afraid that we’ll never be able to find someone else like them. Maybe someone better than them, but hopefully at least someone as good as them. Despite whatever their flaws may be, we wonder if it’s worth taking the gamble and throwing away a maybe-not-so-good-kinda-terrible thing in favor of…nothing?
I’ve been single for about 2 and half years after ending a good, albeit b o r i n g relationship. As of just recently, I feel pretty ok about it. It no longer feels like being single is just the default option – I’m actually embracing the freedom and selfishness that being on my own allows me. Am I open to whoever might be put in my path? Yes, absolutely. But for the first time since I can remember, I am not actively seeking a partner and letting that pursuit dictate my behavior.
What do I mean, letting it dictate my behavior? I think most of us are guilty of it.
Do you ever go out when you’d rather stay in because you just might meet someone, or at least get some much needed attention? Have you convinced yourself to stay for one drink longer just because your future husband might be about to walk through the door? How many times have you allowed yourself to be dragged to a party you don’t want to go to on the off chance that so-and-so might stop by?
I’m not judging any of those behaviors. I’ve been guilty of all of them over and over again. Sometimes it’s really fun. But I’ve been at that game for too long and I’m over it.
As part of this transformation I’ve been going through, I am way more in tune with what I really want, and I’m getting better at letting those desires win. If I get an invite to go out after working a long double and being on my feet all day, I really consider whether that’s something I actually want to do, or if I just feel a sense of obligation. Would future Austin be happier in bed with the dogs watching Netflix? Usually the answer is yes.
Sorry, I’m rambling. It seems I’ve forgotten about John Mayer once again.
I began this whole musing on the idea that we are all so deeply afraid that if we let a person go, we might not get someone else in return. I think what I’ve realized is that when you’re truly happy and living more in alignment with who you are and what you need, that fear gets smaller. Sure, sometimes it creeps up at moments of vulnerability and sure, I’d love to meet someone eventually. But even if I never find another you, I’ve already found me.
If you’re currently planning any type of extended trip – be it three weeks, three months, or three years – you’ve probably already read through dozens of suggested packing lists. I know I did. Those lists are super helpful when it comes to identifying the true essentials, like the right bag, power adapters, and silk bed liners (verdict is still out on that one as far as I’m concerned). As I read through list after list, I began to become overwhelmed by all of the items I “needed” in order to go traveling through Asia. Part of the appeal is throwing caution to the wind and traveling light, right?
As I narrowed down my packing list (and felt how heavy my bag was getting), I decided to go as minimalist as I could and started eliminating almost all non-essential items. Hair tools? Pshh. Multiple pairs of shoes and sandals? Ix-nay. Extra swimsuits? I’m a MINIMALIST, hello!
The end result was that everything fit into my carry-on bag, and I was feeling preeeeetty slick, if I’m being honest. Fast forward 6 weeks and there were a couple of items I was longing for, and having an unexpectedly difficult time finding replacements for while on the road. Thus, I have put together a list for you of some of those non-essentials you may want to stuff into your bag before hopping on a plane.
I know, I know. This one should be obvious. I *did* bring a small travel size sunscreen with the expectation that I could surely find more once I arrived at a yet-to-be-determined sunny beach town. While this is true, sunscreen is EXTREMELY expensive in Asia since it is really only used by tourists. There are also a lot of fake sunscreens that are quite convincing if you’re not looking closely. I learned that the hard way after getting sunburned in Goa for three days in a row. Long story short – bring enough sunscreen, and make it at least SPF 30+ (you’ll still get your tan on, don’t worry chica).
MAKEUP & PERFUME
At home, I wear makeup nearly every day. As I was preparing for my trip, I was so excited to ditch my makeup routine and go au naturale, which for the vast majority of the time, I did. Tropical temperatures + humidity + foundation is not a cute combo. What I was glad to have in my arsenal, however, was a good mascara. I wish I had also brought a lipstick or tinted lip balm. Despite being a “grungy traveler” there were more opportunities to get a little dolled up than I expected, whether it was an invitation to an Indian wedding or a night out dancing in Weligama.
I have to give credit to my friend and seasoned traveler, Beth, for thinking to bring perfume. Throughout our time traveling together in India, we shared her jumbo bottle of perfume on evenings that we wanted to feel a little more human. I loaned her my mascara, she gave me a spritz of perfume, and we were ready to take on whatever the night had in store.
Another obvious one, I know. Here’s the thing. When I first set out on my trip, the only confirmed destination was northern India, in January, which only gets up to about 65F/18C during the hottest part of the day. That, coupled with the fact that India isn’t always the most bikini-friendly place, I thought I would be just fine with one suit. Plus, I thought a cheap backup suit would -again- be easy to find in the event I needed one. I was wrong. It is not.
Swimwear in Asia is either absolute crap quality, or insanely expensive for a slightly higher quality, and there is no in between. When you’re on the beach almost every day for weeks at a time, you’re going to want to switch things up. Bottom line – bring at LEAST two suits, maybe 3 depending on your destination(s).
BRALETTES & CROP TOPS
In my pursuit of being the ultra minimalist, I refined my packing list to only the items that I considered highly practical and multi-functioning. This meant that a lot of my crop tops and cute bralettes didn’t make the cut. While I still stand by less being more, I would bring along a couple more cute layering items and lacy bralettes on my next trip. If you’re traveling somewhere with a hot, tropical climate, these items are an easy way to keep your wardrobe feeling fresh and trendy without being hot or bulky. I also ended up wearing a lot of loose high waisted pants and skirts, which pair oh-so-nicely with a cute cropped shirt.
NAIL CARE ACCESSORIES
Please, if you take nothing else from this article, take a nail file and clippers with you. I distinctly remember reading an article stating “leave these behind as manicures/pedicures are cheap and easy to come by throughout Asia!” so I made the mistake of not bringing any of the above. Sure, salons are relatively affordable throughout Asia, but if you’re ever at a point where you’re deciding between a meal or a manicure, food usually wins. And sometimes, you just don’t spend any of your precious time sitting in a chair waiting for polish to dry.
Why nail polish you may ask? Because despite my best efforts, my nails were filthy at all times. No matter how many times I cleaned the dirt from my nails, it was there. Eventually you turn to nail polish to hide the reality of your filth, or you use your handy emery board to file the issue away.
HIGH QUALITY TRAVEL SANDALS
When I was researching what to bring for my trip. the thought of “travel sandals” sent a shudder down my spine and I was determined not to be one of those travelers. I had a pair of simple sandals from Nordstrom Rack the previous summer that were super comfortable and matched everything I packed, so I thought I was set. That lasted for 3 days before they started to fall apart from the constant walking and inconsistent dirt roads and paths. This set into motion of series of shoe mishaps that I could write an entire article about. All that to say, research your sandals and make sure they’ll hold up. Thankfully, travel sandals have come a long way with brands like Merrell, Naot, and Teva. In fact, Birkenstock is having its own little fashion moment right now.
WORKOUT RESISTANCE BANDS
If you’re going on a shorter holiday, you can skip this item (unless of course you plan to film some #Insta #Fitness #BeachWorkout #Content. In that case you go girl). If you’re going to be traveling for an extended period of time, on the other hand, these may come in handy. I’m not a serious athlete, but I do like to pick up and put down some heavy things every now and then. I wasn’t worried about leaving behind my gym membership when I set out for my trip, but after about 6 weeks of travel there were more than a few times I longed for some resistance bands to get a bit of a workout in. These are lightweight, affordable, effective, and you can use them anywhere. Win, win, win, wi- you get the idea. Well worth the .05 pounds and very minor space they’ll take up in your bag.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about the phases of life. Some phases are meant to be brief. Some are meant to last much longer than I would have like (ahem puberty).Some phases are fun, exciting, and full of new challenges. Some are boring. Some are really fucking hard. I’ve realized that most of those phases, at least in my fortunate life, can be positive in one way or another.
Perspective changese v e r y t h i n g.
In my current phase, I’ve moved back with my mom to the suburbs of Chicago. I’m back to working in the restaurant industry. I have no social life to speak of. I spend next to nothing as I’m trying to chip away at the mountain of credit card debt that I made for myself back in Denver. But I’m happy. I’m enjoying myself. I wake up most days excited and ready to take on my day. Since moving back home, I’ve resisted the entire experience, forcing myself into feeling guilty about my situation and assure everyone I meet and friends and family that it’s only temporary. Which is true, it is just temporary, but all the more reason to enjoy it. Because every phase of life is temporary – fleeting – be it for better or worse.
While traveling I had “flashbulb” moments, let’s call them, where I would just be stopped in my tracks, my breath taken away, with all of my senses overwhelmed by the beauty and magnificence unfolding in front of me. It was a moment of pure bliss, of total and complete presence, and I was lucky to have that experience several times throughout my trip.
After returning home from my travels I had a short period of forced optimism, still going off the adrenaline of the trip. Following that I fell into a pretty significant depression. I was afraid that everything I had experienced was just a bandaid, and returning back to “normal life” would send me right back down the hole I had just managed to climb out of. The worst of those feelings are behind me, andjust now I was blessed with another flashbulb moment. Walking my favorite dogs, rounding a corner and being struck by the most stunning dusky sky. Absolute, body trembling bliss. And it’s clear that there has certainly been a shift in my life.
I am happy. I am ok. I’m back to enjoying the mundane, something I haven’t truly felt in years. This isn’t forever, but for right now it’s just fine.