I could paint you a picture, take a photo, or write you a song but that only gives you a sample of what Ireland might be like to me. It does not allow you to feel the wind in your hair as you stand on the Cliffs of Moher, taste a perfectly poured Guinness, or converse with the most interesting people you’ll ever encounter. It’s a wild, untamed country that sparked a new part in my soul that I didn’t know was there. Ireland took me in and mended up my wounds that needed to be healed. It’s a place that in the most obscure way, I felt most at home. I freed myself of the expectations of who others thought I should be. I was then able to be present in the moment to be the person I am. I laughed and cried as I experienced new life lessons in my second home on foreign
soil. A place is what you make of it but it is also what you make of yourself. If you allow your walls to come down, you too, may find your second home on unknown land. It’s a strange and an uncomfortable experience to realize you feel more at home surrounded by the unfamiliar.
My trip was only a few weeks long, so I assume you’re wondering how I can deem this place to be a home. When you think of what a home is: it’s a place where you sleep, enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, and binge watch your favorite tv shows. It’s also a place of comfort where you can just be yourself. Sadly, that’s not how I was always feeling at my actual home. I was riddling myself with worry and stress of everyday life so much that I was losing comfort in my city. I did not feel like myself as I was overthinking everything. I was known for being awkward and I let that become a significant part of who I am. Ireland made me forget about the expectations other people had put on me and gave me the opportunity to feel comfortable with myself. I started up conversations with people I didn’t know with ease and found myself to feel so at home with the unknown environment.
In my time of being there, I felt myself transform to what my heart knows as my true self. I shifted into the person that I have always aspired to be. I let down my walls and my worries as I traveled around by bus and train, while staying in hostels with my sister. Everything from the cheerful and spirited individuals, to sitting near the fire on a cold day, brought me back to life. I have always thought of myself to be friendly, but there I discovered what a love I have for striking up conversations and hearing the stories of strangers. I realized that I’m not only supposed to hear the stories of people around me but I need to share those stories as well.
The people make the place but so do the whimsical trees and charming streets. The historic buildings are alive with character and a resilience to keep on standing, serving as an inspiring experience to walk around and view. The old cobblestone roads made me want to skip through the streets of Galway as I journeyed underneath the spirited flags that tied the paralleling businesses together. Inside the structures, the pubs held stories of the common man who works hard to make ends meet and enjoys a fun conversation with friends or strangers over a pint. The wooden walls let out a comforting scent while the patrons of the place also let off a natural scent… No one seems affected by the smell of b.o. and old books though and continue on with their night. The music makes you forget about the troubles you were overthinking earlier. It ignites excitement and passion for being right there in that moment. There’s a magic in the air that can’t be described properly on paper, only experienced in person.
The trip itself was unplanned and spontaneous in nature. We rarely knew where we were going to stay for the night which turned out to be one of our favorite elements of the trip. By not planning our trip, we ended up in unexpected places recommended by the locals. We met amazing people as we hopped around by bus and made conversation with strangers that soon turned into friends. Along the way, we became friends with a British man, Peter, and a French woman, Clotilde. We met them separately but came together when Peter asked us to rent a car to roadtrip in. That led me to my favorite day of singing along to 80s songs, driving on the “wrong side” of the road, and exploring castles in very large raincoats. The energy in the air made me feel so blissfully happy…even as I was walking around with drenched socks on. (No one likes walking with wet socks and that still remains to be my most memorable day on this planet, so that says something.) The less than ideal weather only strengthened the way that I was feeling about Ireland. It was unpredictable with its gloominess. We drove to get a view of the ocean where the wind practically picked us up as soon as we stepped out of the car. Although I was having trouble just walking along the water, there were still surfers out in the water enduring the weather.
Home is a place where your heart feels a mixture of excitement, happiness, and comfort. I felt comfortable being myself and I wasn’t as much worried with what anyone thought of me. This feeling is hard to come by for me as I do often struggle with identity. I love the island of Oahu that I now live on, but it has only just started to bring me that same feeling of being free mentally. I’m realizing that home comes from being happy with myself, making the most of where I’m at, and enjoying the company of the kind and loving souls I find along the way. As I continue to push past the challenges that come with being both an introvert and extrovert, I know I will start finding homes all around the world. I will find comfort in the discomfort, as Ireland has shown me the beautiful transformation that can happen when you let go of who you think you should be and just be who you are.