30 Days of Indie Travel Project: Meaningful Connections


Day 12 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project* is all about meaningful connections.

Travelers meet dozens, if not hundreds, of new people on every trip. They may become friends, enemies, lovers, and resources; they may stay in your life forever or be forgotten the next day. Tell about a time you felt a powerful connection – for however long – to another person while traveling.

My friend Kim just posted a quote from Eat, Pray, Love on Facebook. While I didn’t love the book, I did love this quote when I read it a couple years ago:

“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever. Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it.”

This quote resonates with me – and is relevant to the topic today – because I met such a person while traveling.

I met him at a time when I wasn’t looking for love.

In fact, I had pretty much convinced myself that love just wasn’t going to happen for me – which is actually why I think I was so open to it when it seemed to finally appear. I won’t say it was love at first sight, but it was pretty close. And when you meet someone while traveling and spend every single day with them for a period of time, feelings can grow pretty quickly.

I felt like he understood me in a way that no one else did. I felt like I could be myself with him like I had never been able to with anyone else.  

I was convinced I had found my soulmate.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. We weren’t in the same place emotionally and, while there were warning signs early on, I subconsciously chose to ignore them.

When it ended, I was devastated. More devastated than I have ever been over anyone or anything in my life. At first, I struggled to make it through just a few hours without crying. Then I aimed to go a whole day without shedding tears, and then a whole week.  Getting over that heartbreak is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done but in the end, it made me so much stronger.

I read Eat, Pray, Love a couple years after I met him. I kept telling myself I was completely over him but the truth was, pain from the heartbreak still lingered. I hadn’t moved on.

When I read that quote in the book, I highlighted it. And read it again. And again.

Suddenly it all made sense.

He was my soulmate – I wasn’t wrong about that – but he was not my only soulmate. He was not the one I was meant to spend the rest of my life with, but he came into my life for a reason. And broke my heart for a reason.

He made me take a look at where I was at what I was doing with my life. He revealed a deeper layer of who I am.

If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have started running. I wouldn’t have finished one marathon, much less five, much less a marathon in Estonia.

If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have signed up for Fear Experiment and performed improv in front of 700 people, meeting a group of amazing new friends in the process.

If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have started thinking about leaving Chicago, which led to me thinking about moving back to Minnesota, which led to me thinking about taking a career break, which led to me actually doing it.

And if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have realized I deserve better and that I don’t have to settle for less when it comes to love.

*Throughout the month of November, BootsnAll is inviting bloggers from around the world to join them in a daily blogging effort – the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project –  designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.

7 thoughts on “30 Days of Indie Travel Project: Meaningful Connections”

  1. Pingback: 30 Days of Indie Travel Project: Love Affair «

  2. When I read “Eat, Pray, Love” I also highlighted pages. A lot of the ideas in the book are good, but I don’t like the ending.

    “ I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness.”
    ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

    more from Gilbert

    “People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”
    ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

  3. Your post really got to me! Currently in a bit of heartbreak myself, but you’re absolutely right.

    If it wasn’t for my meaningful connections I would have missed out on so much in my life. I wouldn’t even be traveling! Or have a mindset which is just way to focused on one continent.

    Thanks for this post. Really inspiring!

    1. Thanks Roy! Glad it touched you – and best of luck to you getting through your current heartbreak. Just remember, you’ll come out of it a stronger person. 🙂

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