Luxembourg Travel Thoughts Pt. 1: Anxiety, Being Present & Finding Balance
Two weeks ago I arrived in Luxembourg and it has truly been a trip of a lifetime so far.
Remember in my travel anxiety post how I talked about me being a bad traveler? Well, this trip has helped me prove to myself that I’m not such a bad traveler after all. I just didn’t know what kind of traveler I was before. In the past, when I’ve traveled to Europe with my family, I was younger, less independent, less confident, not always in a great place mentally and I didn’t know about my food sensitivities or anxiety at that time. Pretty much, I set myself up to fail by following my parents and brother blindly then getting sassy/annoying/whiney when things weren’t going how I wanted. Talk about YIKES.
This trip has been wildly different, more positive, eye-opening and, overall, full of joy than those trips in the past because I’ve focused on a few main things: being independent, creating a sense of normalcy, being prepared and knowing when I need to just tap out and do my own thing.
My parents have really encouraged me this trip to not feel badly or guilty for doing what’s best for me, whether that means saying “no” to an outing and sitting at a coffee shop and reading instead or taking the time to pack my own lunches for daytrips.
And trust me, there have been many moments where I have to just spend time alone and recharge. Last Tuesday I felt a great need for "me time," so after my long run (a glorious and sunny 13 miles!), I took the day to read at my favorite coffee shop, grab juice at Rawdish (my favorite foodie spot in Lux so far) and people watch while eating a tupperware lunch in the main square in the city. It's days like those that have helped me feel centered throughout this trip and have given me the mental clarity and energy I need to jump back into being social and having fun on family outings and adventures.
But there’s definitely a balance between doing what’s best for you and learning to suck it up, soak it in and do things because your family wants to do it. It’s a balance between selfish and selfless that I think is so important to find. Selfish sounds so negative, but being selfish is necessary in some ways. This trip has shown me that. In order to be fully present during our day/weekend trips, family dinners out, etc. I need to be a little selfish and spend time alone in order to recharge. If I’m constantly with others I get overwhelmed, and as I get overwhelmed, my anxiety creeps in and as my anxiety creeps in, I become not-so-fun to be around and it makes it hard for me to enjoy what I’m doing or what we’re seeing. This trip has truly opened my eyes to this and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to find this balance throughout my time here.
This trip has also taught me that you can’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. But it’s also taught me, and is still teaching me, that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and let go of the need for control. I’ve always had a hard time with this, but I’m slowly getting better. Not every day has been perfectly planned out or allowed me the time to recharge, but they’ve still been good days because they’ve been spent making memories with my family.
Although I'm learning this lesson, in no way have I been able to perfect this balance quite yet. Last week during a family day trip to sightsee at two old castles and ruins I hit a breaking point that I didn't see coming. Everything was going well until BAM my anxiety hit me full-force at the second stop of the day. I tried to be nonchalant about it and blamed my quietness on a stomachache. But, because my mom is my other half she knew something else was up so thankfully, after almost having an anxiety attack in the middle of a crumbling castle, she helped me find a cool corner (it was effing HOT out) where I could read while they finished touring.
THIS is another lesson I've been learning on this trip - don't hold it in. Be honest and open about your struggles so those around you understand what's going on. I have the tendency to only tell my mom when I'm feeling anxious and having an "off day," but sometimes I don't even open up to her. If I had been completely honest from the get-go that day at the castle about my anxiety my family would have understood how to help me and wouldn't have thought I was just being grumpy. Although it's difficult for me to be vocal about my anxiety and it's easier for me to just shut those around me out, I realized this is another piece of that balance between doing what's best for me and what's best for others. Even though I feel like holding it in and getting quiet when I'm feeling anxious helps me, being vocal and helping those around me understand what's going on is best for them. When you have anxiety you have to understand that it affects everyone around you, especially your family, and the only way to make it easier on them, and in return (as I've learned through experience), easier for you is to be open about it.
This trip, so far, has really shown me how blessed I am to have the family I do. It has shown me how much I've grown and matured. It has shown me how independent I've become, but also how much growing I still have to do. I feel as if this trip has deepened me in ways I can't quite understand and I know I'll forever hold this experience dear to my heart!