To this day, walking El Camino de Santiago remains one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever had. It took me more than 30 days, and the support of my best friend who was with me, to walk the whole 900-km road. We had our ups and downs, and at some point we even wanted to give up. At the end, it was truly an amazing experience which thought me many things – about myself and about life in general.
These are a few of the life lessons I have learnt trough walking El Camino de Santiago.
9. Don’t postpone your dreams
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. – Mark Twain
When I decided to do El Camino de Santiago many of my friends told me: “Oh, good for you, I have always wanted to do it!” People keep saying this to me every time I share I have walked El Camino. My answer stays always the same : “If you really want it, then DO IT!”
Let’s face it, we all are busy, we all have responsibilities, but “I don’t have time” is a lame excuse. Don’t wait for the perfect time, it will never come and you may spend your life waiting. On our way to Santiago we met many people at age of 60-70 who waited for the perfect moment and it took them a life-time to find it.
If you have ever wanted to do something, but never had the time, stop making excuses because at the end you may miss all your chances. Don’t postpone forever. If you don’t have time, make time. Those are your dreams we are talking about!
8. Don’t be afraid to try new things
If it doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t change you. – Fred Devito
To be scared is normal. New experiences, uncertainty, taking risks, all those things are scary. However, if you stay at your comfort zone where everything is familiar and safe, you may never become the person you have always wanted to be. You may never do the things you have always dreamed of doing.
Change doesn’t mean to lose what you have, but to add to it. Change means development. Fight your fear of failure, fight your fear of what people will say. Believe in yourself and take risks.
7. If you really want to do something, you will find the means to do it
It always seems impossible until its done.- Nelson Mandela
Walking for a month along the Camino is not easy. It is a challenge – both for your body and mind. And for sure there will be time when you will think about giving up and taking the bus. There will be a time when you will think that if you have to walk even one more mile, you will drop dead on the ground. There will be a time, probably more than once, when you will say to yourself ” I can’t!”. However, you will be surprised to find that you are stronger than you thought.
And when I say this, I am not talking only about El Camino de Santiago. Many times in life we face difficulties and impossible situations, and we still manage to get out of them. It’s important to overcome our fears and doubts and to make the first step. After that it gets easier..
6. Possessions don’t matter
“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” – Matthew Arnold
When you spend a month with one pair of shoes and the same clothes on your back every day, you start seeing things differently. When you have to carry all your belongings with you, you realize the burdеn of “having”. You realize that material goods you buy, use and lose, and you should not allow them to define you and own you.
You are not your car, your clothes, your phone. Instead of collecting things, better put your energy in collecting experiences, ideas, memories, thoughts and emotions.
5. Every day counts
It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln
Life is short indeed, too short to spend it doing things we don’t like, following someone else’s dreams and trying to be what people expect us to be. Your life is your own and if you allow it to slip through your fingers, then don’t go around blaming someone else. Make every moment counts. Fill your day with laughter, with love, with beauty, with art. Stop existing, start living.
4. You are allowed to change your mind
Yes, there are two paths you can go by but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on – Robert Plant from Stairway to Heaven
While walking the Camino there was a moment when we were seriously considering giving up. At the beginning this thought made us feel ashamed. However, later on we came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong in giving up. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you have made a mistake and the things you do are just not for you. There is nothing wrong in changing your mind. It is not a weakness in saying “enough” when you feel it. And its never too late to start over. At the end of the day it is important how you feel, not what people expect from you.
3. Don’t be afraid of failure
Try again. Fail again. Fail better. – Samuel Beckett
When we grow up they teach us to be cautious, to be reasonable, to play safe. They teach us that making mistake is bad. However, there is no mistake that we have ever done that didn’t teach us a valuable lesson.
With every mistake that we make we discover more about ourselves, about who we are, our limits, our strengths and weaknesses. Making mistakes teaches us to forgive, helps us grow. Actually, the only mistake we can do is not to allow ourselves to do mistakes.
2. Attitude is everything
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. – H.D. Thoreau
Life is a choice. As it is happiness. Pain. Beauty. We all have been through many highs and lows and there will be many more problems to face. However, it is not the situation that defines us, but the way we react on it.
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude towards to it. If you decide to feel as a victim, then you are a victim. If you are looking for reasons to be unhappy, then you will find them. Instead, you can choose to search for a beauty. Try to look for the best in any situation. Life is what we make of it.
1. You can only grow trough experience
People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. – Thomas Szasz
“So, did you find yourself?”, my friends asked me when I got back from Santiago. Sorry, guys, but there is no magic formula that will help you understand who you are. There is no short cut to becoming the person you want to be. There is no trip you can take and come back more confident, better and complete person.
Building a personality is a long, and sometimes painful process. Taking aside family environment, education and social pressure, at the end it is you and only you who is responsible for who you are. No one will tell you the answers you are looking for, you have to find them by yourself.
The photos in this pots have been taken by my friend and travel buddy Vesela. You can find her on Instagram.