In a Van – New Zealand

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Fiordland
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Mt. Cook

Before I begin, let the beauty in the two photos above resonate a little bit.

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Next I will say the photos do no justice to feasting the naked eye upon a view like this. However, before you muster up any sort of ideas that I am rich, lucky, and living the dream take a moment to remember that not everything is as it seems. You cannot have light without dark, happiness without sorrow, yin without yang. Due to the hype about New Zealand, I feel the things I will next write about are taboo. As if when I post this a chunk of people will point at me, gasp, and say “how dare you”. Our journey through New Zealand was definitely not unheard of and have met other travelers with the same experiences and read plenty of posts in the backpacker groups with similar struggles and feelings.

I will then move on to say that extreme exhaustion, HORRIBLE weather and terrible nights sleep in that weather in a van that is swinging back and fourth in the whipping winds, the van breaking down in the middle of an approaching cyclone and having to hitchike, budget dinners of mostly canned beans, atrocious and sometimes unusable in quality drop toilets that are your only option, lack of cleanliness in every aspect, overpaid campgrounds and being ripped off daily, paid and timed (4-6 minutes) showers at campgrounds you already paid for, fines for using outlets and wifi NEVER working even though they say they have it, an allergic reaction causing us all to lose our minds and an uninformed “pharmacist” selling me an incorrect product, constant discrimination on my nationality, rude hospitality and service, small portioned, expensive and flavorless food, misfortune upon misfortune, and inconvenience upon inconvenience took over our lives all day everyday and so moments of serenity and beauty like the photos above did NOT come easy DESPITE what you may be thinking.

In this age of social media the things we post inevitably become a kind of advertisement of our lives. A scroll through someones feed can immediately make you feel inadequate. I’m not as good as they are, I’m not as pretty, I’m not as creative, I’m not as successful. But you are simply looking at what they WANT you to see. Social media is a very powerful platform and tool. I believe it is very important to take a step back every once in a while and realize the power it can hold over you and your confidence. Are you posting with the intention of seeking validation? No judgement. We all want validation in one form or another. But to remind yourself that constantly seeking validation is dangerous and your confidence will be easily broken and built based on outside approval rather than internal self love. Social media is not real life. Your phone is not real life. The filter on your selfie is not real life. So much more goes on behind the scenes than what we see on the millions of endless feeds full of deceitful perfection and that is where the true struggle, creativity, freckles, imperfections, messy hair and organic beauty in life lies.

There will always be someone “better” so it is wise to quickly train yourself to see those people as an inspiration, develop a supportive attitude and seek positive and productive competition rather than convincing yourself you are unworthy and are left feeling utterly defeated.

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Mavora Lakes Campground

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Milford Sound Cruise
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Lake Tekapo

I love the outdoors and travel and adventure, but I also love my sanity. Each side of the story make up the journey, both good and bad. It would have felt fraudulent not to express the dark side because it was incredibly overwhelming and that is the TRUTH. I care deeply about presenting truth in whatever it is that I do. The words I write, the photos I take, the advice I give. I base everything off of what I know and have experienced and welcome things I do and have not.  But if I can give my truth in hopes of someone else believing in theirs, I feel accomplished.

As I ponder the journey I see clearly that the funniest stories have come from the worst times and my biggest lessons have been learned through trauma. Yin and Yang. In between the glass in my sandal for a week and wearing clothes that smelt like a wet dog everyday the desperation for a good time was always our priority. Like the photo below of the sunset in Queenstown, or the moment the boat’s engine started and we began to move on the Milford Sound, or dropping 160 meters on a swing in a canyon, or flying above a glacier in a helicopter, or rescuing a baby seal and then swimming with dolphins, or kayaking with friends we hadn’t seen in a year, or making new friends dancing to Shania Twain even if it were for one night, or listening to a group of oldschool locals sing and play acoustic guitar along with the jukebox in a campground’s bar, or sneaking up behind people at a cowboy themed bar and putting a cowboy hat on them to see their reaction, or laughing hysterically at the misfortunes of your travel-mates like a bird pooping on their soda can or an entire cracked pepper shaker accidentally emptying all over their dinner, or the long awaited first view of Mt. Cook in the morning, or the disbelief in the vibrant blue of Lake Tekapo. I could go on.

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Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

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All in all it was an experience never to be forgotten. It helped me put into perspective many things I may of taken for granted. It built confidence in areas I always needed. It brought many feelings to the surface around the two people I trusted most and bonded us together in an irreversible way. It proved to me that love, hate and ignorance are truly everywhere. It gave me a healthier relationship and view on money. The trip made me laugh uncontrollably in some of the darkest moments which taught me that life doesn’t have to be so serious and truly made me re-evaluate in the ways I suffer. It solidified certain areas of my likes and dislikes yet at the same time opened me up to the acceptance and adaptability to any situation.

Life is just a series of experiences and the way we grow is filtered through them all. We have the choice to progress ourselves in the ways we want regardless of how hard you think your life has been. We have all been there. And if you were to write a book based on your life and highlight each trauma in red, middle ground in yellow, and happiest moments in green the pages would look like a jumbled mess of colors. Sometimes a lot of red, sometimes a lot of green. But I guarantee as you flip through that book it would look just as jumbled as the person’s next to you. YOU are the only person who can stay strong for YOU and can learn the techniques, practices, or mantras that work for YOU to help push through all the red because the yellow and green are always on their way. Learning how to stay strong through the inevitable “negatives” of life that will forever happen is what will make life a whole lot easier.

I am clearly infatuated with Mt. Cook and Queenstown and throughout all I had seen of NZ these areas were definitely the winner and I would suggest anyone to go there.

To be continued..

love-laura

 

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