It has been a hell of a year. I had to make the adjustment from the South American motorcycle adventure of a lifetime, to spending a long cold winter in small town New Zealand, where my family and colleagues were the only people I interacted with. I have struggled with implementing the lessons I learnt for myself, and how to help others while I continued to wrestle with my own mental health. I took some big backwards steps, but I bounced back every time. One step back, two steps forward, right?
One year to the day since I arrived back in New Zealand from Chile, and I find myself once again with my bags packed and a boarding pass in hand. Next stop: Colombo, Sri Lanka.
As usual, I have no concrete plans, just a bunch of ideas. I recently discovered I could rent a tuk tuk and drive myself around while I’m there, so that’s happening. I know I want to surf, and eat mangoes too. I also know there have been some horrific terror attacks in the city I’m about to land in a mere couple of days ago. But most importantly, I know I want to embody the underlying lesson the universe has been trying to teach me; STOP TAKING SHIT SO SERIOUSLY!
I’m not obliged to be anyone’s saving grace. I don’t need to be a role model of sobriety, or a martyr for mental health. I don’t have to restrict myself from living life for fear of it contradicting what I was preaching, because that was never the plan anyway. Living honestly, and genuine to myself, is all I ever needed to do. Which is quite fortunate actually, because maintaining a messiah complex seems exhausting.
That was never what Awareness On Wheels was about anyway. I did my first public speaking event since getting back from my trip just the other week, and I realised no one was ever really looking up to me because I “had it all figured out”. It was because I had the courage to admit that I didn’t. Instead of standing in front of all those people and telling them I had a miracle fix for potential unhappiness in their lives, I went with a far more honest and personally empowering opening line:
“I’m Isaac, and I’m a drug abusing, bisexual, borderline-narcissist who was diagnosed with depression 4 years ago”.
I didn’t know how it would be received, but saying it out loud was like having a weight lifted from my shoulders. A weight I put their myself, because of a desperate need to always be doing “the right thing”. Whatever that is.
Many people looking from the outside won’t know this about me, but I have a paralysing fear of not doing something right. I’m good at a lot of things, so I have a tendency of sticking to those things, for fear of appearing incapable or imperfect. That probably isn’t an uncommon fear, but I’m sick of being held back by it nonetheless.
Did you know I can freestyle rap? Seriously, I’ve got bars for days. I’m better than your favourite face-tatted, lean-sipping industry puppet, but I’ve probably never rapped in front of you because of a fear I would say the wrong thing, or I wouldn’t be as good as I thought.
Did you know I have wanted to surf since I started high school? But after being nearly drowned and ridiculed as a kook during my first surf lesson, I didn’t voluntarily try again until years later as an anonymous 22-year old in notoriously-polite Canada.
So, now for Awareness On Wheels 2.0. Instead of trying to change the whole world, I’m going to focus on my world. While riding my tuk tuk along the Sri Lankan coastline and through the mountains, I want to better understand what self-love and self-care looks like for me. Sometimes it means treating myself to a piece of cake or a joint, sometimes it means restricting myself from such temptations. Genuine self-care requires discipline, while not being too hard on myself. I still haven’t had a sip of alcohol in over 18 months (nor do I think I ever will again) but this time around I have a new mission; find balance, and have some fun.
I’m going to be a little bit selfish, and take opportunities as they present themselves. There will be ups and downs, and a bunch of lessons to learn I’m sure. There will be the same honesty, and the same openness. There will be less intense and profound writing, and more funny videos. I’ll probably record myself rapping. I may also change my mind after 2 weeks and decide to stop posting online altogether. I’ll see how I feel.
Promoting positive mental health is still vitally important to me, but I need to release a bit of self-imposed pressure, and remember how to enjoy life on my own healthier terms again. If I can inspire someone else to do the same, that’s a bonus.
So follow along with my tuk tuk adventure as I share my journey to more sustainable self-love! Or don’t. Do whatever the fuck you want, and I’ll pretty much do the same 🙂