From Brene Brown’s book ‘Braving the Wildness’, I got to know Maya Angelou and one of her phases such as:
‘You are only free when you realise you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.’
These few sentences made me ask myself a few questions. Do I belong to this particular place where I am now? Have I ever experienced a sense of belonging to a particular place? Is there any place on this wonderful planet that I belong to? And do I really want to belong to any place at all? I needed answers.
Actually, the first time I asked myself these questions after returning from one landmark trip, which I wrote about in one of my articles here. Even then, after spending about 4 months in London, I already began to suspect that I could no longer limit my presence to one country.
All this vibrant atmosphere, amazing people around me, the smell of freedom liberated my ‘soul of a wanderer’ as Aladdin set the Genie free. After the London trip, I was almost certain that I would no longer be able to belong to one particular place, and maybe not to any place at all.
The realisation of this was, on the one hand, rather painful, but on the other hand, it intensified the desire to move on in order to find my place or confirm otherwise. So, my next destination was Sydney. You can read more about my trip to Australia here.
So many things have happened and changed in the three and a half years I spent in Australia that it might be worth writing a memoir about it (by the way, this is one of my goals).
New people around me, studies, projects, new emotions and sensations, difficult moments, struggles, compromises and persuasions, acceptance of myself and situations, thinking about where all this is going and whether there is a prospect for what I am doing or not.
Thoughts that go far-far away, reasoning alone with myself, right down to questions about where I am, why I am here, and the hope that maybe I have finally found the place to which I belong.
When the search for oneself leads to another country or city, the framework of life prospects changes completely. You no longer consider your path only within one geographical point, a small radius, where there is always an opportunity to take a step back into the space of safety and comfort.
You are now thinking more broadly – on a global scale. And then comes the realisation that you are nowhere (except at home) and no one (except for the family) is waiting for you.
Then you suddenly clear that the most important thing is not to belong to some particular place, but to yourself. And only through belonging to yourself, you can have this belonging feeling to any place. Because when you are comfortable and at peace with yourself you can make any place ‘yours’.
Australia in this sense has become the first place where I learned how to belong to myself, largely thanks to the people this place gave me. I have experienced a lot with them over the years. It seems that as much as I have not experienced with everyone with whom I have had years of friendship and communication (with a couple of exceptions).
A new place, constant uncertainty, the desire to feel someone ‘close to you’ and the search for support in the person of new acquaintances. This is probably why you trust and become imbued with people in a new place much faster than in a familiar environment.
Getting out of your comfort zone is really helpful. Thoughts are flowing along an unusual channel. You look at people from a completely different angle. You test your capabilities (mainly psychologically). And these endless monologues in your head seem to let you know yourself anew.
Rather, these are not monologues at all. Constant dialogue is what it is. It arises because no one else will understand you as you are able to understand yourself. And this is not from banal loneliness. It is now too easy to get rid of this state of solitude by calling a friend or home via Skype or WhatsApp.
Although, of course, from time to time aloneness still covers with a cap of a pressing vacuum. The solitude of the scale of confronting the world one-on-one is exactly what oppressing much more than the absence of an interlocutor in front of you.
So, after going through “Fire, Water, and Brass Pipes”, I still cannot say that Sydney is the place I belong to. However, with a high degree of confidence, I can say that here, in Australia, for the first time, I felt what it means to belong to myself, and I am very proud of it.
‘The price is high. The reward is great’…