Ups and downs, highs and lows and the importance of finding balance

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finding balance while traveling

The other day I got a package in the mail from a friend back home. And by package I mean envelope.

Inside was a simple beaded bracelet. On one end was a black bead and on the other end a white bead. The attached note mentioned that the white bead carried water from Everest, the highest point in the world, while the black bead carried mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

Sometimes you’re on top of the world, stay humble. Sometimes you’ve hit a low, stay hopeful.

Woah, what a great message!

While I have a lot of lifetime goals and ideas I regularly strive for and regularly fail at, but finding emotional balance has always been the most important thing to me, in a non-hippy alternative kind of way. It’s sort of just how I roll.

finding balance while traveling

Floating in the Dead Sea with C’est Christine

finding balance while traveling

Everest image source

I’m an inherently emotional person. My feelings are, and always have been, a roller coaster.

If I’m sad, I’m pretty sad, if I’m happy, I’m super bubbly, and then everything in between. I love feeling excited or thrilled or nervous or afraid, it reminds us we are alive. Someone once told me when I was younger to never lose our childish enthusiasm, and that’s stuck with me over the years.

I love feeling getting excited.

I’m like Kirsten Bell, if I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying AND I’m similarly afflicted with love for furry creatures. I totally teared up the first time I got to hold a koala in Australia, and if DOC in New Zealand ever lets me hold a real-life kiwi, I will literally lose my shit. And a decade later and I still can’t watch this scene from Love Actually without crying my eyes out and HONY makes me sob about once a week.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

For a few years I was told by people who are close to me that being emotional is a bad thing. And I believed them. It took me a long time to realize that I was hiding who I really was by hiding how I truly felt about all sorts of stuff. And that’s never cool guys.

What’s wrong with feeling strongly about different things? Why should we not say what we think or show how we feel? For women but especially for dudes too. In fact, I think guys not talking about what they are thinking and feeling is a worldwide epidemic, especially in New Zealand with it’s massive tough-guy culture. Once I started to really think about it, the more and more bothered I became.

We should be allowed to be ourselves. If I’m excited I want to smile and jump up and down, and if I’m sad, I want to cry and eat a lot of chocolate. If I’m nervous or scared, I want to say it, not bottle it in. What’s wrong with that?

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

Of course like with the most important things in life, nothing is that simple. Ever.

While we all experience extreme highs and lows that effect all of us in different ways and how we express it is up to each person individually.Obviously you can slip too far to one end of that bitch of an emotional scale, but as long as you can balance it out at the end of the day, month or year, you’ll be good, right?

That’s how I see it, at least. Life is all about finding balance. Total cliche, I know.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

For me my highs and lows vary week to week, even day to day.

I’ve felt like I was on top of the world more than a few times and thought I was invincible and I could do anything; and to contrast that I’ve been so far in the pit of despair that I thought the sun would never shine again and I wondered how I could ever go on. Twice. Shudder, remembering those lows are what keeps me going now and motivates me to find balance. I never want to end up like that again.

But usually my rage range is less extreme, thank god for small favors.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

And of course everything is amplified tenfold when I am traveling and on the road.

Travel has a way of bring up submerged emotions and feelings to the surface and forcing you to confront them. After all, it is easier to get lost in the routine of daily life or ignore things you don’t want to face than when you are forced to deal with them in a totally new and occasionally uncomfortable environment.

Travel is a big test for a lot of people.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

I get told daily by strangers and people who don’t even know me how wonderful my life is and how lucky I am and how they wish they could be like me blah blah blah. You guys know how I hate being told I’m lucky, and read here if you want to know more about my realities.

When did it become socially acceptable to presume to know everything that is going on with another person’s life and judge accordingly?

No matter who we are, no matter wherever we are in the world, we can never know someone else’s full story. And to make assumptions that we do is beyond uncool.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

Granted, in some ways I get it and I can see why people think that about me; my life is an open book thanks to this blog and social media, but there are still a few things I keep to myself, mostly to ensure my sanity and also because there’s only so much public humiliation a girl can take, right? And I can only talk about myself SO much before I start to look like a vain narcissistic bitch.

But I digress. At the end of the day nobody but me can know how much work I’ve put towards this life I’ve built, what sacrifices I’ve made, and my own highs and lows. It’s not all pretty Instagram pictures folks. I often post pictures of stunning mountains but not of me sweating and red-faced slipping and sliding my way to the top.

Life is hard. Life is gritty, and above all, life is full of ups and downs.

And the same goes for you too, your story is your own, no one else’s.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

I have no idea where I am going with this actually. Ah yes, back to balance.

Getting that bracelet in the mail couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. It put everything into perspective.

The past two weeks I’ve been riding on a total high. I was asked to share my story on BBC travel about quitting my job to travel which ended up getting featured on the massive BBC homepage and, one of New Zealand’s biggest newspapers named me “the future of tourism in New Zealand.” Again, holy shit. I was also just featured on Mashable and interviewed with USA Today.

It’s also been hot and sunny in Wanaka, I’ve started running again and have made a bunch of new friends. Things are falling into place. I wake up excited and smiling every day. I’m happy.

To say life is going good, at least for my blog, is massive understatement. Oh wait, except I’m still in limbo and still don’t have my NZ visa sorted. 7 weeks and counting.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

But three months ago I was in between work and assignments and almost couldn’t pay my rent. Two major contracts I was working on fell through, the advisor I hired to help my with my immigration application screwed me out of over a grand and left me hanging, and the guy I thought I was in love with broke my heart.

Five months ago I visited Mongolia which changed my whole life and my travel style and also I realized I was getting super burnt out on the road. And I found out on the way to the airport that my best friend’s brother killed himself, someone who was basically family to me.

Nine months ago I moved to Wanaka and fell head over heels in love with this town and a year ago I starred in a major TV show in the States. Six months before that I fell off a camel in Jordan and almost broke my back, something I am STILL getting treated for and will likely have permanent nerve damage.

Two years ago I was living at home with my parents wondering if I would ever become a full-time travel blogger and three years ago I chose to live in Spain over love. Four years ago I was convinced I was going to graduate school for history.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

So what’s my point besides bringing up all of these random big highs and lows in my life?

Looking back I realize that if I were to fixate on any of those specific moments for a long period of time, those lows or highs, then I would be lost. It’s so easy to be consumed by strong emotions.

That isn’t to say I haven’t either. I’m a dweller and deep thinker, and I have to seriously force myself out of ruts and down from buzzes all the time. But at the end of the day, I breathe in all of the emotions, embrace them, grow from them and then let them go, Frozen-style.

But back to balance.

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

We all have to find our own way to balance and happiness through these ups and downs. For me, I have found over and over again that stability, peace and quiet are what I need when I need balance. Obviously that almost always doesn’t coincide with how I travel.

I think it has a lot to do with being an introvert and the fact that I thrive and grow and am the most creative when I am totally alone and without distraction. So if I am being more social than usual which can wear me down and exhaust me, I make sure to build in me-time to calm the fuck down.

And then also sometimes the opposite happens, if I am completely alone for too long, I start to go a bit crazy and that’s when negative thoughts can creep in so I make sure to force myself to start being more social. Or like when I do laundry and realized I’ve only washed sweats, pajamas and yoga pants because I haven’t left my house in a week. Oops. Time to put on some pants and start talking to people!

finding balance while traveling

finding balance while traveling

Too much of either direction is never a good thing, it’s about figuring out what your balance is for you.

I’m a big believer in feeling all of the feelings. After all, strong feelings and emotions can lead to creativity and personal growth, right? At least for me.

The most important thing is being able to find balance between those highs and lows. Stay humble. Stay hopeful.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather ride a roller coaster through life than drive on a flat highway in cruise control. Just make sure you stay on the road. Most of the time.

How do you find balance in your life, especially on the road?

**You can find the cool bracelet I was talking about here at My Lokai.

finding balance while traveling

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90 Comments on “Ups and downs, highs and lows and the importance of finding balance

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  1. I’m a fellow emotion feeler, so I understand where you’re coming from here. My enthusiasm is often referred to as ‘childlike’ and I hope that’s something that never fades. But the lows…can really get to me too.

    For some reason, travel seems to magnify these emotions, so I think you have to keep an eye on how you’re feeling, and also give yourself a break. Travel means being away from people you care about, experiencing things that are INSANE, having travel mishaps in unfamiliar environments and being so awe inspired that you don’t know how to deal with what you’re experiencing. So, as you say, sometimes you just need to take some time out of that to get some balance.

    I really admire your ability to share personal things that could be difficult to write about and go much more in depth into topics than most people do.

  2. So sorry to hear about all of these lows, Liz – but happy to learn about some of the high points as well. I think balance is incredibly important, and for me it’s about not burning myself out. I have a tendency to work / travel / do everything flat out, and then get tired, grumpy and ill, and end up feeling rubbish about myself. So I think for me it’s about learning to take it slow sometimes, and occasionally make time to recharge my batteries. Hope you keep on managing to find that healthy balance 🙂

  3. This was a wonderful post, and I totally feel you. Emotional rollercoasters all the way! Seriously though, never, ever let yourself be bottled up by other people, and do, always, absolutely let your emotions shine. It’s what makes us us, and as a fellow emotional person, I can verify that it’s our own, super special brand of crazy that makes us kind of amazing. Though they might complain, everyone loves the friend who’s going to get super, over-the-top excited for them when good stuff happens. Plus, it just makes being friends with us that much more exciting. So fly that emotional flag proudly.

  4. Finding balance on the road is so hard. Normally at home, I’m a pretty mellow person but when I’m travelling my emotions range from one extreme to the other. To find balance I just need to take time to myself and put everything in perspective and that will normally last about a day before I go crazy again! Really great and inspiring post 🙂

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