VAN LIFE

Development of character

My character personally and professionally has been shaped vastly through traveling. One of the travels I look back and realize has changed me the most, has been a personal and shared journey many physical miles from where I am currently located.

LESSONS FROM VAN LIFE

I had traveled from Nashville to L.A. and then to Hawaii when I arrived in Australia, where I spent one month solo getting up to Cairns at the very south of the east coast of Australia – to meet with my ex-partner, who I had met back home in Denmark a few months before we both went traveling apart from each other.

We had decided to meet in Australia to build and live in a van, and see where things took us. We had gotten work Visas to be able to afford a longer stay. 

We found a cute Nissan Urvan, and started renovating it to make it our home. We ended up living in that van for roughly 9 months.

It was liberating, to live a more simple life. We had the things that  we brought with us in our backpacks and a few “essentials” we bought along the way including coffee machine, toaster, and blender which all ran on power from our solar panels. It was a luxury van life really – but one we had created together for ourselves and each other. 

It was interesting to live alongside another culture and society than the one we both grew up in. 

In school, I had learned to love to follow. Follow the trends, follow the rules, follow the social manners of the authority and the majority.
Before I had met my ex-partner I had grown very comfortable in during what everybody else was doing.

But I used to be a bit more “unique”, making my own clothing, wearing it to school, being teased for it, looking different with my red hair, my freckles, and my uncommon interests – but I didn’t mind!

I got a note from my teacher one day saying that he admired how brave I was for just being myself even though I was so “different”, and at that time I had no idea what he was talking about. Different? What did he mean by that? I didn’t see myself as different, but I was constantly labeled by it. During my teenage years, I didn’t want to be labeled “different” anymore. Because it was so uncool.

Back home in Denmark I found a boy who seemed to be the cool kid on the block, but in many ways had managed to be “different” anyway. He didn’t seem to care what authority and majority thought of him, and it made him very attractive to me. It had been a while since I had embraced being my uncommon self so I barely knew how to, but during our time together he managed to show me.
The beautiful thing about our relations in life is that we cannot admire anyone who has trades that we don’t have within ourselves. The reason why I loved the fact that my ex-partner could embrace his and my differences was that it resonated with something deep inside myself. When you feel good inside it is because your “soul/higher self” agrees with your thoughts and the state of mind that you are in, and when you feel bad, it doesn’t.
It might sound a bit fluffy, but it is scientifically proven that our thoughts and feelings can be measured as incoherent or coherent wave patterns in our bodies – if the wave patterns are powerfully aligned we get a sensation of joy in our bodies. And embracing and being proud of my uniqueness with him felt just right.

Being with my ex-partner in Australia, and all the other places we ended up traveling together – made me learn a powerful lesson:
Embracing and accepting our needs for being whoever we want to be is urgent if we want to be fully happy in life. But it might take a step away from the norm to see what those needs actually are.

We only feel disconnected to the world if we feel disconnected to ourselves.

My ex-partner and I got to know each other living in that van. It was an intense but extremely educational experience, and something I would never take back anything of, even though we had our battles due to our different upbringings, world views and experiences in life – or lack thereof.

It taught us both a lot, and since there was not a lot of friends and family to turn and talk to, we had to solve our challenges ourselves. 

These communicative, personal, and relational battles of ours made me very interested in therapy, psychology, and communication – all of which teaches us how human relations can make us grow as individuals – if we let them. 

Despite learning about our differences, my ex-partner and I also learned and grew a lot of common interests. 

We, amongst other things, realized that we had learned a lot more about ourselves and the world we live in, in those 9 months in Australia, and through our different travels – than we felt we had learned during our 3 years in high school – if not all of our years in school. 

This realization provoked a skeptical view on the traditional schools that we had gone through in Denmark, and made us question whether the traditional education system was the right fit for our personal and professional paths. 

We both concluded that it was not, and even though we are not together anymore, we still have that same value in common. My ex-partner decided to start his own business and I decided to join The School of KaosPilots here in Aarhus, Denmark. 

Due to our growing interest in unconventional education, we started looking into less traditional professions as well. At that time Travel Bloggers on social media was at its peak on Social Media, and people seemed to be able to live off of traveling, through taking pictures while visiting beautiful places around the world – which to us sounded like the dream occupation at the time. 

We decided to create our own Instagram for our “van life journey” which until this day is still live on the platform as @livingonourownterms. 

We grew more and more interested in photography and editing programs for our content, and our experimentation with editing programs such as Lightroom resulted in pictures with extremely oversaturated colors and lights – which I look back at now with a bit of aesthetic embarrassment. But we had a lot of fun with it during that time, so no regrets!

Even though our shared Instagram account never really generated any profits, we still both have used the knowledge on our individual accounts to create great content which has resulted in a few profitable collaborations with different lifestyle brands. 

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