Living young and free or filled with anxiety and control?
I stepped off the plane in Tijuana filled with the excitement of living vanlife in Baja. I’d watched so many YouTube videos of vanlifers talking about how “Baja was a vanlife paradise.” My boyfriend and I stopped in Guerrero Negro for a week and it felt like we were discovering the joys of vanlife in Baja with our free beachside camp spot.
As we headed further south, the heat became unbearable. In the day it was around 40°C (100°F) and at night it didn’t drop below 28°C (82°F). As you can imagine, living in your car in that heat is intense. We spent most of our time trying to find coffee shops to work in and hiding in the shade outside while the locals took refuge in their air-conditioned houses. Nights were spent with no covers, windows open, one fan pointing at us, and one fan on our puppy. It was uncomfortable. We’d wake up covered in sweat and feeling incredibly dehydrated. My energy levels were low, I wasn’t enjoying my time and even broke down crying because it was all getting too much.
My boyfriend suggested we go to the mainland where it would be cooler both during the day and at night. Initially, I resisted, I felt like we should stay in Baja for a long time because everyone else had said how amazing it was there. Even though I was having a horrible time with all my energy being spent on surviving and not thriving, I was refusing to leave because I felt like I “should” be staying there for an arbitrary amount of time.
Do what allows you to thrive
Eventually, after waking up in the night to our puppy panting and whimpering, I realized that staying in Baja wasn’t healthy for any of us. I want to add that we made sure our pup was always in the shade and we never left her in the car without us being there with fans on—if anything, we put her comfort and wellbeing ahead of our own. We sped over to the mainland as soon as a space on the ferry opened up.
When we arrived at our first location, deep down we both knew it wasn’t for us and this time we just left. We arrived at the next place and we felt that rush of positive energy. We finally felt like we’d found a place we wanted to stay in for a while and so we did.
I suddenly realized that traveling with freedom meant ignoring what others said and listening to how I felt there. If I resonated with a place that someone else didn’t like, it didn’t matter and I should stay for as long as I needed. If I didn’t like a place then I had to leave and not force anything.
It dawned on me that not only do I try to force my travel, I also try to force my life. I’ll do things I don’t really want to do because I feel like I should. Instead of listening to my own body, I’ll tap into external forces and take them as gospel. I try to control and manicure my life in order to fit in with this ideal that I’ve decided is the truth.
Your quiet inner voice is more important than the louder external noise
If you’re anything like me then you’re pretty bad at making decisions. Somewhere along the way I stopped trusting myself and started using other people to make my decisions. It seems like their opinion is more valid than mine and what they think I should do is what is best for me despite what I feel in myself.
You might be thinking, what does this have to do with going with the flow? But this is the first step in uncovering your inner voice that will allow you to follow your own happiness.
When you have a minor decision to make, for example, where to go out to eat food, just sit for a couple of seconds taking some deep breaths and listen to which one speaks to you. Then just make the decision and stick with it. There are usually no “right or wrong” options, there are simply options. By doing this with minor decisions you’ll start to work that intuition muscle that has always been there.
Use your heart more than your head
When it comes to bigger decisions or just life in general, listen to what your heart is telling you. Do you have situations where you feel your heart saying “Yes do it!!” but your brain is screaming out in fear? Usually, this is a sign that you should do it because it’s going to help you grow and be happy. When a crossroad comes up in your life, take the time to sit with your heart and quieten the mind. Eventually, that little voice in your heart will become louder and you’ll be able to flow through life using your intuition as your compass.
Anxiety and stress are undoubtedly linked to controlling behaviors
When you start to listen to your own heart instead of focusing on what others think, feelings of anxiety and stress will reduce massively. You’ll soon realize that when you were trying to mould and shape your life to fit into the shape of someone else, that is when you felt anxious and out of place. Step into your own light and your own intuition and you’ll be guided by what is going to help you thrive and what others are doing won’t matter.
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Photo: Jen Theodore on Unsplash; Jessica Joseph on Unsplash; Louise Baker