A Pair of Shoes and a Mirror

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A Pair of Shoes and a Mirror

“I never would have thought I’d see you in those in a million years.”  
My good friend from home is looking down at the ugliest pair of shoes either of us has seen in our adult lives. I bought them out of necessity. It was cold when I got back to Europe and I needed something other than the sandals I had been wearing all through Asia the last three months. It’s been either sandals or my Nike tennis shoes (which have holes in the sides now) since I left, and I honestly don’t even think about it anymore. I don’t think about what I’m wearing at all, let alone what’s on my feet. I no longer really care- and it hasn’t even registered how much of a symbol of change that is, until right now with Rayvin pointing it out. 
She’s visiting me for her vacation and hasn’t seen me in almost a year. She’s totally entertained and enjoying calling out how I’ve “let myself go” in certain respects. It’s funny to both of us. We both look down again at my feet and crack up laughing.
This is what backpacking and long term travel looks like- and it suits me.  

Trust me, they look worse in person.

My shoes are what any sophisticated businesswoman would call “disgusting.” They clash with everything I own and have a weird pattern on them. That woman wouldn’t be caught dead in these things.  That woman wears only designer high heels, flats or leather boots.  
I used to be that woman. She’s still somewhere in here, in the backseat of the proverbial “soul vehicle” that is my body. She just doesn’t say much anymore. She’s taking a much needed break alongside my ego and “pain bank” (that place in our memory where we hold all the bad stuff from the past). They all sit quietly in the backseat now, most of the time, speaking up only when I let them- a rarity nowadays.
I’ve enjoyed having Rayvin around. She’s a piece of home- familiarity and comfort.  She reminds me who I used to be, and shows me how much growth has actually taken place. Having her around helps me give myself credit for the thousand things I’ve learned, changed and developed over the course of this journey.
Sometimes she makes me miss home, and all the comforts that come with it. We both work (well past tense for me) in the cosmetic industry, which means one toiletry bag is never enough.  She brought two suitcases full of great clothes, shoes and products and looks perfect everyday- reminding me how much time I used to spend getting ready. 
With her around everyday for a month, I start spending more time putting myself together. I forgot how time consuming all this could be.  
I sit in front of the mirror while we both get ready for a night out. I notice how grown out my hair is and how different my skin looks. (I haven’t seen my natural hair color since I was 18.)
For a brief moment I see myself 20 years ago, at 6 years old staring back at me and it sends a pain down to my gut.  I am hardly recognizable, yet completely recognizable at the same time.  I look as I was intended to look from birth, without any alteration.  My blonde hair growing out showing my natural auburn color, my bare face uncovered and my eyes bright, carrying less pain. 
This is the new/old version of me.  It feels like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in ages.  I guess I hadn’t fully appreciated this physical uncovering of myself that’s occurred in the past months. It didn’t fully register how much I have physically changed since this all began last August.
I see myself and take note of what that really looks like. And for the first time in my adult life I think to myself: “It’s okay. You are still pretty and I accept you like this.” For the first time I pay attention to this since I began this journey.  And for the first time (maybe ever), I acknowledge and accept the unkempt version of myself.  
Within seconds I feel lighter.
When I do put on a little makeup it’s not for the same reasons that it used to be about. I do it for fun. I do it to enhance my already-there features. I use practical sunblock with a bit of color in it. I am no longer putting a mask on. I’m using cosmetics only if I feel like it- not out of necessity.
For the past few months I rarely even looked in the mirror before my friend from home came to visit. Our time together helped me bridge the gap between who I used to be and who I’ve become- helping me to accept both versions while finding a comfortable space somewhere in between.  This is what great friends are for- to help you really see yourself, to help you grow and evolve.  They do this while sitting beside you during the biggest chapter of your life.  And those are the people I miss most, but also the people I know I am serving well by continuing down this path of growth.  
I am extremely fortunate for all my experiences, gifts and mostly for the people that have supported me the whole way through.  (Especially you Mom!)  
These people accept me no matter what, which has helped me accept myself (ugly shoes and all).
Thank you, thank you, thank you.  ❤️❤️❤️

By |2016-03-31T10:51:42+00:00March 31st, 2016|Dear Diary, Solo Female Travel|0 Comments

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? SheGoesGlobal.net is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.

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  1. GirlAstray March 31, 2016 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    I have seen pretty much the same change after I have moved to Colombia. I came back after a year and a half and I just don´t care about the things that I used to care about anymore. I think it´s for the better. This let´s us go further ahead – with a lighter baggage.

  2. Bridget March 31, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Love you! It’s amazing to see you evolve, love and appreciate the natural beauty (both inside and out) that I always knew you were.

  3. Hannah March 31, 2016 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Oh my god I also bought the world’s UGLIEST shoes in Europe. Mine were worse though- neon yellow. and I mean neon. I was in Rome and they are on sale 40 euro, everything else was 120 euro+ and there was no way I was paying that (converted in Canadian) to stomp around Asia in rainy reason. So I bought the nasty yellow ones that clashed with everything. But they did the trick! 😉
    PS you are a gorgeous girl, no make-up and high heels needed! xo

  4. Jamporter (@portjamblog) April 2, 2016 at 4:00 am - Reply

    Such a nice reflection on the transformative journey you’re on!

  5. Laura @ Grassroots Nomad April 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Travel always changes us and it is great to sometimes take the time to reflect on that. I also have so many hideous items of clothing that are super practical and I can’t do without. I’m definitely not going to make my name as a fashion travel blogger any time soon! 😉

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