Before I left on my road trip, a friend told me that he hoped I would find whatever I was looking for, which made me self-conscious and I defensively laughed it off, since it seemed obvious that what I was looking for was an adventure. It turned out that I did learn a lot about myself; I guess that happens when you take a step away from your routine and start thinking about the big picture. As I got toward the end of the trip, I assumed I would dive back into the real world right away and a little bit of me was afraid that I would forget everything I learned about myself once I started working again.
Like a lot of things in this past year, my return to the real world didn't happen like I thought it would, thankfully so. I spent a couple months with my brain completely scattered, literally coming up with a new life ambition every day. It's a fun place to be, because I like to daydream and explore different ideas, but also a little stressful because I had had the idea that I have control over how and where my trip would end. I'd thought I wanted to settle down in San Diego, but then an opportunity came up closer to LA working on the celebrity division of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon and I took it. One of the things I'm trying to bring with me back into real life is making a habit out of trusting my instinct, and this opportunity feels like it's exactly what I should be doing right now. I'm working part-time on a two month contract, which gives me the flexibility to ease back into things while working on my freelance web-design business on the side. Malibu was one of my favorite cities that I visited on my trip, and helping people prepare for their race has inspired me to start swimming, biking, and running again.
I've tried writing out the top lessons I learned in the past year and found that it's a hard thing to do, because it's not like you can learn a lesson and check that box and then you're the expert. The learning process is ongoing, and there are things I'd thought I'd conquered that I have to remind myself to do. I guess it's good thing and that's how you grow. A few months back, I was telling a friend about the things I'd learned on the trip and he responded that I'll likely continue to learn more as I settle into reality and find new ways to apply what I learned. Or in Joan Benoit Samuelson's words, there is no finish line. ;)
One thing I absolutely learned about myself over the past year was how much writing down my thoughts helps me to collect and organize them, so I'll probably keep up my blog even though the trip is officially over. It started as a travel blog and evolved into a thoughts-that-go-through-Kelsey's-head blog anyway, so you can expect more of that.
Since my Lyft career is now officially over, it feels like a good time to talk about how valuable that piece of the trip ended up being. Somewhere in California at the beginning of my trip, I was explaining what I was doing to a guy I drove, and he told me how he'd spent some time living in the south a few years back and how, despite his leftist views, it was positively eye-opening for him to see how the rest of the country lives. He said that seeing people who live in towns so remote that it takes half a day to get to the nearest police station helped him have a better understanding of why people stand so firm on the 2nd amendment. Hardly anyone is inherently evil, despite what you'd think by reading through your Facebook feed. We forget that literally everyone is coming from a different vantage point and somehow our reaction to realizing that disagrees with us on something has become that we immediately label the other person an idiot or wrong.
I 100% believe that the problem isn't the fact that half the country must be wrong about an issue [if we're assuming that there's an absolute truth]. It's the distance that's created out of that culture of right and wrong and the extremes that both sides are finding ourselves on now as a result of it. Spending 20 minutes or so driving strangers around in my car gave me a better awareness that people are coming from all different places, and just because I think differently from someone doesn't mean that it's not my responsibility to try to understand where they're coming from.
Besides helping me to understand how entitled everyone is to their own point of view, I also really loved hearing all of the stories along the way. I still get emails from people I drove who have been reading my blog and are following up on our conversations, which range from job prospects to marathon training to plans for going on their own adventure. Another thing I've learned about myself is that I'm an introverted people person, meaning that when I meet someone new, I tend to want to hear their life story in full, starting from the beginning. I think that may be part of the reason that working for a huge corporation wasn't my thing, because it was overwhelming to try to make connections with 8,000 people. I visited the Nike campus when I was home in May, and left feeling like my head was spinning, and I don't even work there anymore [but of course I love and admire the people who thrive off it]. Driving people around was the perfect way to hear what was going on in a person's world for a short period of time and then I was able to let them return to it without any obligation. Lyft is changing the world and I was happy to have been a part of it.
After having so much time off, I love that I'm starting to get busy again and it feels good to actually have a reason to set my alarm. I've been spending my time practicing yoga, swimming in the Pacific Ocean, working on my web design business, celebrating more dirty thirties and a housewarming, and this weekend I'm headed to New York for work. The main thing that I wanted out of my trip before I left was to have more time spent drinking coffee on the beach, and I'm happy to say I got it.