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  • Writer's picture Heleena Webber

Things I've Learned Pt. 2: Personal

I've been in Calgary for a few days now, and I have to say that being back home has been a far harder adjustment than my first few days in Indonesia. I miss the people I met, I miss the changes in scenery, and I most definitely miss the warmer weather. But I feel a ton of gratitude for everything I got to do, and everyone I got to meet.

My last post was the things I learned about working remotely. But, of course, there are some things I took away as a person too. So here's my top five...


1. I've become more adaptable. I used to get pretty stressed out. Maybe it was partially due to the burnout I had been feeling, but I'd get stressed out if I wasn't sticking to my rigid self-inflicted schedule, if things we're going perfectly at work, or if I felt like I wasn't meeting my own high standards. But letting go of planning and having to figure out new places has helped me feel like those previous stressors aren't really that important in the grand scheme of things. I've gained new perspectives and ditched some old fears. I'll give you a couple more light-hearted examples:

Example 1: I used to get pretty anxious in highly crowded places. After walking along the streets in Indonesia, or crossing the crazy roads in Hanoi where there don't seem to be any road rules, I feel like I have this one beat. I feel like I could tackle Chinook Mall over Christmas. Or even Boxing Day. Snap.

Nighttime in Hanoi.

Example 2: I used to be terrified of spiders. I remember once, I had a friend come over to kill a tiny spider in my home. After having a hand-sized spider in my room in Bali, or eating a scorpion in Bangkok, I feel like anything under a centimetre no longer counts as a bug. OK, maybe anything under an inch.

Mental preparation.

2. I'll stick with my usual ways of dealing with stress and "finding myself". This includes chats with friends, physical activity, a stiff post-work drink, exploring new places and maybe a bit of therapy. Let me explain. Ubud is a pretty "new age" place with people who find themselves through things ranging from yoga and smoothies, to things like shamanic breathwork. What's that you might be asking? I found this video that explains (pretty sure this is the guy who lead our class there too).

It's great if people can get into this. Props to them. I can not. We laid in a room of about 80 people who were essentially all hyperventilating to have, let's just call them "different experiences". Then, we had to partner up and stare someone in the eyes for a minute without speaking. Then we each had to take turns speaking for one minute while the other just listened. It sounds nice in theory, but it was in that moment I realized I am really not into forced closeness and I was very much on the low-end of the Ubud "new age" spectrum. Bring on the bourbon.

3. It's hard making friends from different parts of the world. Not hard as in it's tough to get close to people, but it's hard to leave them. I spent the entire six weeks with Christina, a friend from Germany, and it was really hard to say good-bye. Not just to her, but to all the friends I made through HP in Bali and new ones in Thailand. You get to experience so much with people when you travel with them and share so many chats about life and experiences - and in that, you find that the people who travel really share similar life views. It's hard not being in the same city as them where you can just grab a beer to catch up whenever. Feeling sad over this was maybe the biggest surprise to me. But hey, at least it's a good excuse to have reunions elsewhere in the world!

One of the final HP dinners in Bali.

Christina and I at Ha Long Bay.

Met up with some previous HPers in Thailand.

4. I've had many moments of gratitude, which has made me a happier person. It could be locking eyes with someone on the street and smiling. Or seeing the most amazing sunset ever. Or swinging over rice fields. Or seeing the most amazing city in the world (love you Singapore!). Or even gratitude for things back home, like when we were out of water for four days at our hotel in Ubud and I really missed my shower at home. Or the gorgeous mountains and crisp air we have here in Calgary. I've actually just learned to love the world and everything about it even more than I did before. Every day I had at least a few moments where I stepped back and just said wow. And those six weeks of intense gratitude made me feel the happiest I have ever been in my life, and that's something I'm sure I'll hold onto.

Best. Sunset. Ever.

Best. City. Ever.

5. I need to travel more. I've made life choices (like not being married, not having kids, and not owning a place... yet) that makes this very possible. I met tons of people who travel for months out of the year, or even for years at a time. It's not an impossible life to live, and in fact digital nomadism is a rising trend. You can work hard and be successful, and travel. And I'll be working hard to do that.


PS: Along the way I learned a few bonus tips:

  • Don't bring your phone to a full moon party.

  • Having a keychain bottle opener is aces.

  • End travels in a clean/modern place like Singapore.

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