Flying Back in Time & Becoming My Own Pilot
Traveling over the past 2 months in both New Zealand and Australia, has truly expanded my vision. Coupled with my current mental period of liminality with just about finishing up college, I feel like a changed person.
In being able to see the world, before and after the pandemic, I realize the interconnectedness of not only the human condition, but also myself. I see all the connections and patterns of why one thing led to another, every sequence of moments and events, flowing in frequency to lead me to the present and current person I am now.
Being in a new environment is refreshing. It gives you a fresh pair of eyes where you can look at yourself and your own surroundings at a different angle. All the locals do not see what you see, hear what you hear, and notice what strikes you. As you enter out of the auto-pilot state and become your own pilot to fly out of the norm, you have the power to connect at any time. With yourself and with others. You learn the ineffable when you study abroad.
Over the past 2 months, I have had many first times and lived life more than I have done so in the past 2 years (due to the pandemic). I was able to explore an entire city with some cherished friends I made, had my first international solo trip where I accessed an entire level of freedom in doing what I want to do, immersed myself in the beautiful nature of an island country (with ziplining, hiking, mountains, beaches), supported wonderful young people from the disability community with my internship work, and experienced new late nightlife shenanigans with drinks – just to name a few. This is why New Zealand will always have a special place in my heart, and why I promise to myself that I will go back, with the right people.
It is impossible for me to remember all these moments of the highs, without acknowledging my moments of the lows. So, here’s a little bit of my story:
I have a complex and meaningful relationship with travel.
3 years ago, I was on an airplane back home from Bali, where I spent vacation with my mother and father. Little did I know that this would be the place where everything in my life changed. In sum, this summer was the time where I lost my former father figure who wholeheartedly helped shape me into the person I am today.
To encapsulate the complexities of it all, I’d like to share with you all a song I wrote in 2019.
Involuntary Passenger - a song about family loss, unhealthy parental dynamics, and growing up.
As I look back and listen to this song, I can’t believe how far I have come – I have finally gained clarity behind my grief, even though it will always carry with me. Although I am nowhere near perfect and I have heaps more to learn, I can truly say that I have finally made peace with my past. I have returned back to the wholeness within me. And if I can overcome my greatest mental struggles, then so can you.
As graduation is just around the corner, college was the precious time where I can say I reclaimed my inner power. It is why I started and still currently run this blog now.
If there is anything I want you to get out of reading this, I want you to know:
Healing is hard, but it is worth it.
It is also normal for the healing process to fluctuate. As I was having the time of my life in New Zealand last month, I had a major anxiety attack for the first time in over 2 years. It is wild how much the body can remember inner pain. I felt absolutely horrible and paralyzed.
In retrospect, I realize that the anxiety attack occurred during the time my greatest loss happened in Bali. The perfect sequence of events went down in New Zealand to activate my own past pain: the last week of the program prior to the big change of readjustment to regularity back in the states, along with other personal experiences.
Do I regret that it happened, though? Nope, not at all. I journaled the rest of that entire afternoon, despite my forthcoming meetings and fun plans, which brought me back to myself and out of that triggered, negative loop.
Regretting your emotions never works.
Even if it takes you away from whatever is in front of you, feeling and then observing your own emotions allows for consequential reflection that guides you to your healing. That takes courage. It is hard, but it is worth it.
Although my past former father figure shattered me, he also helped guide me to become the person I am meant to become. Through unhealthy family dynamics, I learned that attachment is different from connection. My greatest loss is the reason why I was able to go to New Zealand, and Australia. It is the reason why I am now applying to graduate school, to become a psychologist. And instead of separating my mind and my heart, I am now in a period where they are aligning and uniting.
When your mind and heart stop fighting with each other, that is when you become your own compass to guide yourself back home.
When the mind, body, heart connection becomes solid, you become indestructible in a world that is always changing.
The dialogue between your heart and mind is powerful. Because when your mind nags at your heart of how unworthy you are due to the past turmoil it has experienced, and your heart starts believing it, your lens towards your power becomes blurred.
Flying back in time again...
As cheesy as it sounds, I believe that everything happens for a reason.
While the year of 2020 brought a worldwide pandemic, I am so grateful for that year offering me the opportunity to become a part of My State of Mind. That summer with my participation in this amazing organization happened to be 1 year after everything unfolded, and I was still processing my painful experiences. Without this segue into the mental wellness community and surrounding education, I’m unsure how I would have realized my love for mental health at this right timing, months before switching my major from nutrition science to psychology and becoming an officer for the MSOM club at UC Davis.
Fast forward again to now: how INCREDIBLE to have finally met the beautiful faces of the team I have digitally worked with for the past 2 years now, right in the heart of Melbourne, Australia!
Elyssa, Kat (the global director who has worked alongside Macy), Quin, and Wendy!
Sitting down at that table in Australia with the people who helped my healing journey internationally throughout the pandemic, I could not help but think,
“what a dream come true to have finally discovered myself.”
Sometimes, it helps to lean into your pain. It is what I try to do: to face the brutal truth of what is hurting, instead of always running away from it. Doing the inner work is the best thing you can ever do for yourself, so that you may cause the least harm onto everyone else’s pathway you become a part of. So when an invitation arises for true connection, it will not be confused for imbalanced attachment. This is the result of the inner work: alignment of the heart, mind, and body.
This is not to say I am this pristinely 100% aligned, confident person every single day - in fact, it’s often the other way around, especially in a new transitional period of my life! Plus, having perfect mental health is not what being human is about. I just try to prioritize and orient myself towards self-acceptance now, instead of self-sabotage.
The past 3 years have been a discombobulated, exhilarating, chaotic, joyous, depressing, yet extraordinary time. I am still discovering myself with this new phase of adulthood (turned 21 on a plane!), but I am happy to say that I am in such a better place now. I am in a constant state of learning, and I am so ready to be exploring the parts of me that have yet to be known, healed, acknowledged, and loved. In reading this, I hope you join along too.
3 years ago, I knew I would fly, but I did not know why or where.
Now, I am my own pilot, with clear intentions to lift myself and the people who cross my path higher.
Now, I will not let my past pain allow me to tumble down.
In transforming my pain into passion...
Now, I am flying.
As always, I send much love and light to you all.
- Kat <3