18. The other journey
In a few days we go back to the place where I come from, a place I left almost 22 years ago. There are times when I still can’t believe it. It is a small place. An island. This journey to return to my roots represents the start and end of many things. It represents disconnecting and reconnecting with many things. It’s that bigger journey that I talked about a few months ago, that deliberate journey to leave the whirlwind and escape the hurricane (Thirst for knowledge), to deepen my understanding of life in general, and my life as a woman, from a new perspective. Lighter. More aware. A life where time-poverty (Where are you?) doesn’t exist, where understanding and knowledge of the environment and nature lead me to understand and learn about myself. To trust in my intuition without obsessing over rationalising, and at the same time having an open mind to observe what is happening with clarity.
It’s a journey which has been heavily influenced by the last year and a half, even though we have been preparing for more than three years. You can’t escape the whirlwind just like that, even less so in the middle of a pandemic. Facing the operation and going through this experience of wanting to reconnect with my body and my biology has had an enormous influence on the vision I have of that future lifestyle, soon to be reality. I think a few years ago I didn’t realise I was aware of being trapped in that whirlwind. I was aware of it, but I was in denial that I was part of its driving force while suffering the consequences of its dizzy, unstoppable movement. Social labels. Rushes. Stress. An imbalanced diet. Imbalanced health. A complete lack of care for myself, always prioritising the people around me. Financial and work pressures. Scared of rejection, which at the same time caused self-rejection (Rejection). And the powerful inertia of wanting to hide what I feel inside, which simply doesn’t belong in my life. Life can’t be like this, although within so much dizzy chaos there are highs, happiness, and wellbeing.
When I started my last job six years ago, I remember being really excited, feeling prepared to take the step and rise to the job and be in charge. I was finally going to be able to do things my way, with care, always valuing the people before the work. I am very trusting, because the experience has demonstrated to me that, if you worry about someone’s wellbeing, you don’t have to worry about the quality of their work. If the person is well, their work will turn out well. Someone who feels valued, supported, and listened-to at work, is going to work with motivation, wanting to learn and do things successfully through their own will, instead of the pressure of having to put up with the job to pay the bills.
Lots of people tell me that, physically, I seem younger than I am. Being female and starting a job where I was in charge, this youthful appearance made me feel insecure, as if my experience and what I had demonstrated to get the job wasn’t enough for others to trust in me. Simply because I seemed very young. The new girl, the youngster. Foreign too. Feeling that insecurity and being immersed in a much more masculine, academic working environment compared to my previous job, it was the beginning of the most intense stage I experienced of rejection towards my female self I wanted to do things well, to seem as professional as I felt, and I got the impression that being female and being young were an obstacle for others to take me seriously or trust in my abilities.
Getting ready to start this new job, fearing being misinterpreted and judged, caused me a great deal of damage. Lots of the academics I worked with were men, older than me, which made me feel like I was treated condescendingly, and they were putting me to the test. The women didn’t make me feel like this, nor the students. I love working with the students. And wanting to seem professional, I abandoned a large part of my femininity, I stopped being feminine and wanting to look pretty. I repressed my joy. I thought that my appearance standing out or making me seem younger and cheerful went against my professionalism. And while all of this was happening, my stress and fatigue were increasing. As I write this, I have an incredible sensation in my chest, it’s almost as if part of myself wants to suppress it so as not to face the reality of what I was feeling. But it was like this. It was like this. And I used to tell Juanpe about it on Friday or Saturday nights after a few glasses of wine, with my eyes full of tears. Emotionally it was a very difficult stage, and I didn’t know how to look after myself. Instead, I did the opposite. And my hormones were increasingly imbalanced, and my fibroids continued growing.
Doing research in the academic world can be an extraordinary experience, very exciting and positive, but it can also become a nightmare of pressure and isolation, impossible to manage for most people, not just for women. I have worked in the academic world of science in five countries and in all these places I have seen it all. Really, everything. And I only know about the academic world, but I doubt most working environments differ greatly. But I refused to believe that life had to be like this. Life can be another way. And this journey of return means opening the door to this other way.
When I talk about returning, I always say that to return you have to be ready. If you aren’t prepared, you can’t return, or at least not in a balanced way. And sometimes, you want to go back, but you can’t. Or maybe you have gone without wanting to. On my father’s side of my family, including me, we count four generations of emigration. Three generations of leaving countries to not come back: my great-grandparents, my grandmother (Victim and culprit), and my father. And me, I left without knowing what my journey would be. By coming back now and doing it through my own will and with lots of excitement, I feel I close a cycle to heal the past, mine, and theirs. I feel I close a cycle of emigration of many generations who were searching for a better life, the same as me, and who couldn’t close their own cycles, in a balanced and conscious way. Thinking about this return journey to my origins and the journey I make through the blog (A journey to reconnect), it makes me think that I am aware of my will to reconnect because I myself have been distant and disconnected. As though, if I had always been connected, I wouldn’t be as aware now of what this reconnection means and involves, of how important it is. Going back to my roots and creating a new life there also makes much more sense after having been away for so long.
Every time I have moved to a new place, I have felt it was an opportunity for a fresh start where I could bring an improved version of myself to the table. But also, a new and light version, without traumas or burdens, instead with hope, and the wisdom of acquired experience and the desire to continue improving and giving value to the story of my life. In the same way as the operation (Three days two nights), the return journey that I talk about today also offers me the opportunity to reset, perhaps a historical reset, or an emotional one. Perhaps a family reset. I’m still not sure. But I know that we are going to create an environment which will lead us to develop the life we want to have, more balanced, more aware and closer. Ultimately, more connected, with nature, with others, and with ourselves. All these years away have helped me to understand who I am, my abilities, what I’m interested in and what I enjoy, what I want and, of course what I don’t too. I’m going back feeling strong, more female than ever, and wanting to live with my feelings on the surface, in a beautifully wild way.