How I Became a Full-Time Airstreamer: Part I
Most people wonder how I got here. And, I don’t mean like, hey, I drove while hauling this big silver thing on the back of my Yukon. They wonder how I mentally got to a space that believed that living in 100 square feet without any real definitive geographic location to call home would be a good idea.
If we’re being honest (and, yes, let’s always be honest), I’m not really sure where to begin. I imagine that all of life’s little moments have led me here. In fact, I don’t imagine anything. I know that all of life’s little moments have led me here. I really do feel as if this nomadic spirit is contrary to how I lived most of my life (ask my mom who could never break me away from soccer and basketball practices to go on any type of vacation).
So, I’m going to break this post into two parts, mostly for the sake of not losing anyone to the 21st century ADD (because, OMG, we both swiped right and zing). I’ll start with three key factors that defined my very static, albeit active, lifestyle:
- My parents’ divorce. Totally normal this day and age. And, not altogether that catastrophic (seriously, they get along great). But, I think that children of divorced parents naturally seek to find solitude in these avenues of physical routines and spaces. A routine is easily defined and measured. A routine, even when characterized by difficult tasks, is rather mindless once it becomes habit. A routine, more or less, can be controlled. Control creates a sense of power. Power breeds confidence.
- My unhealthy marriage. As an adult, I forced myself into relationships to overcompensate for something I had really yearned to experience as a child (at least, this is what I’ve been able to reason in my older age). I married a man in my late 20’s who wrought so much anxiety into my life that I doubled down on routine as a security blanket. The emotional turmoil that I was experiencing because of the domestic violence was bandaged by my physical monotony. To break out of the routine would be an invitation to a loss of sanity (you can read more about my experience in this relationship here).
- My personality. Yes, I do believe that some of this dedication to my routine is pure genetics, baby. My dad was a professional baseball player who is, to this day, praised for his relentless work ethic. In the dark confines of my mind, to get better at something, anything, means dedicating oneself to that thing daily. Every. Single. Day. There is no time for time off. To take a break is to fail, and I refuse to fail. I create a very emotional connection to the physical, and often material, things that I interact with on a daily basis (my gym, my weights, my running route on my bike path). It is hard for me to internalize that I’m doing the same, if not more, work on a different set of “things” that I have not yet attached to “my” personal pronoun. And, the only way for me to attach this pronoun is through repetition.
It is in processing these events or qualities that I was able to reflect on whether or not I actually enjoyed being this person. I was comfortable. But, I was far from happy. The comfort created a façade that allowed me to smile and feel safe, but it compromised the most authentic version of being.
I was aching to explore. I was aching to be seen outside of my routine. But, this triad had a very strong hold on my ability to step outside of the pattern. It was not until I made some very definitive personal choices, which you can read about next week, that I gave myself permission to outgrow the existence of this rather scared girl.
To follow along with Stephanie’s journey, join her on Instagram @by.stephanieleigh.