Feeling Lost? Where To Go To Find Yourself
My bags are packed ready for this exciting holiday, I stood there alone in the line at check-in.
When the lady at the counter asked me if someone else was with me, I burst out in tears shaking my head.
I was completely heartbroken and had no idea which direction my life was heading.
If you’re looking to find yourself, Ubud, Bali is where you need to be.
This is a story about how Bali changed my life, and why it might just change yours too.
How I Found Myself in Ubud, Bali
I had no idea I needed to find myself until I came to Ubud.
I hadn’t read ‘Eat Pray Love’ and had no idea that the place was known as the spiritual centre of Bali.
I wanted to trial being a digital nomad for a month and the coworking space Hubud kept coming up as the perfect space repeatedly in my research.
I wanted a place where I could meet experienced digital nomads.
It sounded perfect: close to Australia and in tropical Bali. What could be better than that?
From the moment I walked into Hubud, I knew I made the right decision.
The place was filled with expats on their headphones plugging away at their projects. I felt some apprehension at first about meeting new people but that was quickly put to rest once everyone was super friendly and actively tried to get to know me.
Pretty soon people started inviting me to drinks after work and house parties in a tree house. I was truly impressed with the level of friendship and acceptance.
Since I was here as an experiment in remote living, I wanted to really immerse myself into the lifestyle.
I actively searched for events to attend, I accepted every invite and tried whatever I thought would be interesting.
I wanted stories to tell when I got home. What I got was so much more than that.
During my first month here, It dawned on me that I had never allowed myself to really ‘let go’.
I found out that there was this little girl inside me that wanted to play and be free – I had always put her in a box all my life and let my adult control her.
I started allowing her to come out of her box – to dance, play and be freely out of control. I started loving everything about her and pretty soon, everyone wanted to be around me.
My energy was electric.
I got very little work done but I had never felt more alive.
On my last week here, the place grew on me in such a way that I knew I needed to be back.
I loved everything about the place – the greenery, the people, the life.. it was all there for the taking.
As a person that doesn’t get attached to a place easily, this was a welcome surprise.
Feeling Lost Again (And Frustrated)
When I went back to Sydney after a month, I was shell-shocked.
Huge buildings all looking the same to me. The people overworked and unhappy.
The lifestyle was dreary and focused on the wrong things.
The place demanded I put my little girl back in the box and I no longer had control of her.
I had no idea how to integrate and it was so new to me, I started acting out.
This naturally created a bunch of issues with my boyfriend Damien.
I came back a different person and neither of us knew how to handle it. My self-destructive behaviour eventually peaked into me having an affair with one of my best friends.
The adult me would have never considered going down this route and this was exactly why my little girl needed to do it.
Damien found out in the worst way possible and trust between us was completely shattered. Damien tried to move on from it too quickly and started getting severe panic attacks.
I responded by trying to get us to move to Ubud, Bali together.
We booked a flight and put everything we owned into storage.
When the day came, he could not get on the plane.
I was heartbroken.
I cried myself all the way to Ubud.
Damien spiralled into the worst period of his life after that and I started to give up on us.
I came back one month later to break off our relationship. We held each other and cried for a long time.
The Long Jouney To Finding Myself After Losing Myself
The Easy Part:
Over the next 6 months, I learnt to completely let go
– I casually dated.
– I drank rum more than I ever had.
– I saw my best friends every day.
– We laughed stupidly about the unimportant things – things you laugh about in school.
– We recklessly drove a scooter blind drunk through rice fields.
– We sat by the pool listening to music and sang badly at the top of our lungs.
– We danced half-naked on stage in front of a hundred people.
– We cried to each other about our inadequacies and insecurities.
I let go of my control issues, my need for order and being an adult all of the time. I learnt to be vulnerable and allow things to be however they are.
The Hard Part:
I learnt a lot about myself:
– I realised that even in casual relationships, I brought out needy behaviour in others.
– I learnt that I did not create enough trust in my relationship with Damien.
– I learnt that I had always kept one foot out of fully committing in my relationship with Damien.
– In my friendships with men, there was previously always a hint of sexual tension, which allowed me to keep options open.
– I learnt that I seek stability strongly. Even all alone in Ubud, I quickly created best friends that I could be stable with. This went directly against my ideas that I enjoy being alone.
– I learnt that I am extremely loveable – someone I was in a casual relationship with said to me, “Everyone around you loves you. It’s very hard not to love you”.
– I learnt that I never allowed myself to love with my heart – I’ve always loved with my head. To love would mean to be jealous and to be insecure – both things I despised feeling.
I Found Myself..
By the end, me and my best friends felt we grew up and became ready to take the next step. We saw this time as our ‘bachelor party’ – a time we’ll always look back on and laugh about.
I felt fully ready to fully commit and be in a relationship with Damien.
I felt like I knew my boundaries and what I needed from my life. I felt like I’d grown up in a healthy way.
When I came back to Sydney, I told him all about what I had learnt about myself and why I wanted to give him the best parts of me, parts I know he deserved.
After some teething issues, things just started working better than ever.
We started understanding one another and solving issues in a healthy way. He got to know a healthier, more integrated me and he loves me more for it.
Trust has become a given now and I thank my lucky stars that he was able to give me the space to find myself.
Damien finally did come to live with me in Ubud, Bali for 4 months.
Even though he described the place sullenly as ‘the place that took me away from him’, even he agreed there is real beauty here and a place to try to heal yourself.
He also agreed that the difficult year might have been worth it – shock horror! – and that my epiphanies most likely could not have happened with us together.
After 1 year of living here, we packed up and headed to Koh Lanta, Thailand so that Damien could live out his dream of being on the beach.
But Ubud, Bali is the place I hold most dear to my heart. It’s the place of great healing if you allow it, and great pain if you resist it.
I’ve often had conversations with people in Ubud on how difficult it is to explain why Ubud is so EPIC.
Hopefully my story gives you a good idea of the change that can happen.
I’m certainly not the only one that has experienced HUGE change as a result of this place.
Most people experience similar changes in themselves, perhaps with a bit more yoga/spirituality and a little less drinking/partying.
Which is awesome too if that’s the direction you want to find yourself.