The following is a guest post by introvert travel blogger Chris Cavallari, creator of Part Time Vagabond.
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. ~ Golda Meir
I was out of breath, tired, and hot, but I was barely sweating thanks to the arid Northern Arizona air. My feet hurt, my legs were on fire, and I was at least an hour late meeting up with my brother at the trailhead. But as I sat alone on a boulder, overlooking a deep ravine that cut the mountain like a wound, a dawning of realization spread over me. It was quiet. The most quiet I’d heard since I was a child wandering the woods of Connecticut. This was near sensory deprivation quiet – except it wasn’t. Slowly, I began to focus on the slightest of sounds: the rustling of a leaf, the patter of a nearby squirrel, the wind pulsing through the Aspens and Ponderosas. That was the moment I knew that I would be leaving my old life behind and creating the life I needed to live.
Everybody, just shut up!
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. ~Baba Ram Das
Life in the New York City Metropolitan area is hectic, crowded, and loud. Northern New Jersey, where I lived, held the largest population density in the country, thanks to the spillover of Manhattanites who couldn’t afford living in the city anymore. My last year in New Jersey, I lived three blocks from the Holland Tunnel, a block from the fire department headquarters, and along a main road that had a stop sign. My point is, it was loud, and it was sucking the life from me. I was overweight, I was depressed, I was failing as a freelancer, and I was broke. And I still didn’t know that the reason for most of this was because I was being bombarded with stimulation, without a break to recharge. I was an introvert, and I didn’t know it. More importantly, I had no idea that there were ways for me to take advantage of my introversion. So I was burning out fast.
Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows. ~ Henry David Thoreau
It was in the Arizona high desert that I had my epiphany: I would leave everything behind in New Jersey, and move to Maine, where I had spent several summers camping at Acadia National Park. Five months later, I had my entire life packed into my car and was driving north to meet my fate. I moved to Portland, Maine, sight unseen, using Twitter as my 300 mile ice breaker, searching out people who lived in town and befriending them before I even left. When I arrived, I had a built-in group of people who could ease me in to life in the Pine Tree State. And it worked like a charm.
It took two solid weeks for the ringing in my ears to fade away. All this time, the noise from my past life had been destroying me. The first few weeks in Maine were a whirlwind, but they were rejuvenating thanks to the slower pace of life, the friendliness of the people, and the sheer dropoff of decibel levels. Almost immediately, I knew that this was where I belonged. And almost immediately, the deep sense of loneliness I felt in my past life evaporated. That’s an amazing feeling, considering the population of the entire state of Maine is 30% smaller than the three counties in New Jersey where I had lived. Fewer people, less loneliness.
Finding my happy
You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today…watch your heart start beating. ~ Barbara Sher
Just because I’m an introvert, doesn’t mean I want to be lonely. I love to socialize, to hang out with friends, to travel and have adventures, to meet new people and experience everything the world has to offer. What I really needed, and didn’t realize until moving to Maine, was a core group of people to be around, to gain energy from, and who wouldn’t be hurt when I needed to leave the party or go for a walk by myself. And that’s what I found when I left my old life behind.
Since those early days, I have learned that being an introvert is a very specific lifestyle, not one that is chosen, but one that is rich and exciting and interesting nonetheless. I had to embrace this lifestyle before I truly understood why I am the way I am. It’s not an easy one for other people to understand; my family always had a difficult time with me because they couldn’t understand my “shyness.” But until I finally accepted the introverted characteristics that had defined my life, I remained unhappy. Thanks to a boulder on a quiet hiking trail in Arizona, I found my happy, and I have no intentions of letting it go.
Have you found your happy? Tell me about how you found it in the comments below.
Chris Cavallari is a video producer, podcaster, photographer, travel writer, and editor-in-chief of Part Time Vagabond, a blog about living the travel lifestyle while keeping a home base. His podcast, PTV’s Travel Hackers helps people from all walks of life to plan and execute the adventure of a lifetime on their own terms.