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People desire change. Even though we often fear the unknown, we still want to experience new things and become better versions of ourselves. And so we immerse ourselves in new territories and situations in the hopes that we will unveil a new side of ourself — one we are proud of for having taken the plunge into unfamiliar waters.

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I can see the appeal in all of this. Just this year I whisked myself away to Hawaii for a retreat, hoping it would force me to grow and learn, hoping that I would discover a new part of myself that had been lying dormant up until now. Yet while I did learn some new things and meet some new people, ultimately it was still the same person taking that flight home.

Every day people are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn more about some secret they believe they are harbouring within themselves. We buy books, we listen to podcasts, we take expensive trips — none of which are inherently negative by any stretch of the imagination, but all of which I think signal a common, misguided behaviour: people are still searching for answers outside of themselves.

I did change when I came back and I was proud of the person I became, but that change mostly happened before I even left. I was so proud of myself for making a big decision like traveling by myself that I knew anything positive that happened while I was away was just a bonus to this growth I had already done.

Choosing to travel to see the world will have a profound effect on your being. You will undoubtedly experience things you never would have if you were sitting at home, talking to the same people and seeing the same places. If you choose to embark on a retreat to either meditate or practice yoga, you will come back with a better understanding of yourself spiritually. These are things that cannot be taken away or bought but these are also things you can experience at home, every day.

Finding yourself doesn’t begin or end the moment you choose to take a trip and come back. It is a never ending process. The biggest and most important lessons I’ve ever faced that attributed to my growth happened in my very own home/town, like the time when my parents got divorced when I was 10 years old and I had to tell my mother I wanted to live with my father instead of her. Or there was the time when my boyfriend’s mother converted me into a ‘new born Christian.’ And there have been other lessons, too: failing my driving test 5 times and never giving up; falling in love; falling out of love; exposing myself through countless online articles to the truth of the state of our world; and learning about the power of consciousness and realizing religion isn’t for me.

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I overcame all of these hurdles because change forces us to face our insecurities and to adapt to new situations and perspectives. All of these experiences forced me to look within myself and ask, “What do you really want? What will make YOU happy?”

There will always come a time when we have to make decisions for ourselves despite what people may say; when people can’t help us and we have to help ourselves. Life offers us opportunities every single day to further our growth in the most mundane and simple of experiences. Change doesn’t have to happen through some grand gesture to ourselves — no, not at all. Change is sprung on us at every moment, begging for us to just pay attention, to look and listen. It is always there.

Taking a trip to find yourself isn’t a guarantee that you will. You can be the same person in another country as you were in the one you left. The problems you wanted to leave behind will always be there, but perhaps by exposing your eyes to new scenery and engaging in conversation with strangers who view the world through a different lens, you can gain a new perspective that will help you solve your problems. But there are no guarantees.

You can find yourself every day. Pay attention to your own actions, to how you respond to people and situations, and to what emotions come up when you say “yes!” to a new experience and what emotions come up when you say “no.”

When you are uncomfortable with yourself, that is a sign you need to change. And when you change into someone you don’t understand, that is when you will change again.

“When you are going through a process of transformation, awakening or even healing, you will be broken down, re-shaped, and molded. And whether you’re conscious or unconscious about all the events and lessons in your life and why they appeared, you cannot hold on to the old when you’re forced to create the new. We are forced to change, to gain wisdom out of our healed pain, to learn and I believe that is our own resistance and fear of change that is actually causing our growth to be more painful than it already is. Everything in life is in constant flow so why expect or even want to stay the same. Let it be. Let it come and go.”

– Feliciana Cacciapuoti

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