Recently, I encountered a situation that nudged hard at my ego. Throughout the last few years, I’ve been working on releasing ego and embracing humility and vulnerability. Through this I’ve found resilience, power and strength within myself. I have done this largely through my Personal Training job in Victoria, where I faced numerous challenges such as the end of a relationship, entering management positions, losing family members, creating new patterns in my lifestyle habits and completing major physical events. There, my ego got beaten down (in a very healthy and supported way) and my soul was able to open up and accept where I was, who I was and what I was able to do. During this transition of leaving my home and job and embarking on a solo journey, hesitation and fear of others’ opinions have not entered my mind. This is largely due to the fact that I am surrounded by people that love, support and encourage me to live the way I want to. I know that I am blessed in this regard, but I have also worked for it. I have kept close the people who love and believe in me, and limited my contact with those who do not. All of this is not to say that my ego has been driven out of me, it is still very much a part of me, but has gotten quieter and quieter over the years. Lately there has been a situation that really jabbed at my ego that I wish to share.
I was graciously invited to a BBQ at a very wealthy home here in New Zealand. Upon arrival, I immediately felt out of place and unworthy to be there. There was probably also a little culture shock from my simple and very basic lifestyle of camping at the park to being in such a fancy house. I pulled my dirty ’96 Caldina up next to the Audis, BMWs and F-450s. The house looked like it was from the movies - big glass windows and sliding doors, and a stone courtyard area with a cozy fire pit in the middle. I felt like hippie-scum as I brought out my beetroot veggie burgers and listened to the group talk about their houses, tenants, and boats. I learned that they were lawyers, doctors and engineers, which made me feel like even more of an illiterate rat bag. I didn’t have much to add to their conversations and felt uncomfortable in my silence. My thoughts lightened when they asked about my life and travels away from home. I did enjoy sharing my traveling experiences and lessons I’ve learned along the way. We all had a good chuckle when they asked how I showered when staying at the park. My answer was, “A bucket”. They were all kind and talkaive but I couldn’t help feeling like I was being looked at condescendingly. I was grateful to be invited, of course, but feeling like I didn’t belong was a downer.
I have no desire to be rich; no desire for a fancy house or expensive car. I don’t have a desire to work in a city or be a big shot. But seeing this home, and noticing these luxuries that make their life so comfortable, was still hard for me. I was always content with what I had and didn’t care for the extra luxuries in my own life. Back home, I was a professional and working for the best gym in Victoria, so my status was acceptable. Being at this BBQ was the first time I felt like an idiot for leaving my home and the success I’d built for myself. This comes back into what the definition of success means, because I am successful, but in a different sense from the “norm” of society. I feel that I am living my dream of traveling, making connections and a life for myself in other countries. I am constantly learning, improving my overall self and helping others whenever I can. Still, my ego had me hanging on to these thoughts of unworthiness for days after the event.
I talked to a few people I trust very closely about how I felt. I was relieved and lifted when they still supported me and encouraged me to see the bigger picture. It was okay to have these feelings and to truly feel them, and it was a good challenge for me to overcome emotionally. These feelings reminded me that I was living my truth. Material items and fancy things have never been something I longed for. I long for, and am living, a life of personal growth, connection, spirituality, crazy adventures and helping people and this planet in whatever way I can. I am experiencing the rawness of life and I am learning a deep appreciation for the basic necessities. That is not to say that I don’t deserve or can't build a comfortable lifestyle or financial security, I have chosen this lifestyle to experience every aspect that comes with it. Those with excessive funds have chosen that life and have probably worked hard for it and I do not mean any offence to them. I have a different view on wealth and different values surrounding the idea of being rich. Everyone is entitled to his or her own thoughts and you never judge a book by it's cover.
This ego-nudge, although it hurt a little and made me feel some negative things, allowed me to confirm that I was on the right path. Yes, I could have stayed in Victoria and kept developing in the company I worked for, I could have saved up enough to buy a condo (maybe) or a better car (unlikely) and been living the same life. And one day I will return home, but my mind and body will be different because of what I’m doing now. I will be carrying so much more understanding of the rest of the world and myself. We can’t all be high paid executives. We are all on different paths, and that’s okay. You are where you are for a reason and you have the power to change if you feel you’re not in the right place. Where you are is a gift and it is your choice. It is your job to honour it, feel it and adjust accordingly. You can do anything. Judgment and comparison will come up now and then, but you are on your own path, and you don’t know other peoples’ stories. Your ego will always be there, but it’s up to you how loudly you let it shout.