By: Naomi Matlow, Unsettled Tuscany alumni
Almost three decades on this planet and it finally became crystal clear: when I’ve been told to “get lost”, I have inadvertently been given a gift.
It never feels like a gift at the time (in fact it feels more like a punch in the gut) but ultimately when I am willing to finally see the wrapping paper for what it is and garner the strength to untie that bow, I uncover something worth keeping. And gifts you don’t expect or ask for are the greatest ones of all, right?
That feeling of rejection is that bruise on my soul that when pressed, blood immediately rushes through my entire body and a fire alarm goes off in my psyche: “There’s another page in your ‘get lost!’ scrapbook, Naomi. Maybe something really is wrong with you!”
The irony in all of this is that I love to get lost. Remember that Full House episode (don’t be embarrassed!) when Stephanie and Michelle Tanner accidentally get on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand instead of Oakland, California? I never understood why they were so upset about it. They were given a gift to cross the ocean and see the world! Drop me in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and I promise I will find my way back. In fact, that is where I will feel the most alive.
When I was flat-out rejected in college from a boy who I thought was my first great love, I was devastated both physically and emotionally. All I ever wanted was someone to really see me and love me for who I was and was not genetically obligated to do so. Yet the fantasy was fleeting and I was sent packing. I was told to get lost. Tears and beers were had but eventually an important lesson was unraveled: my first great love needs to be me. I’m not sure he knows it but he gave me that gift.
Most recently, due to some restructuring at my current job, I was told to get lost once again, thankfully this time it wasn’t over email. My ‘soul bruise’ was pressed but thankfully it didn’t take me years to unwrap the gift buried within. I took my remaining vacation days and packed my bags for two weeks of living Unsettled in Tuscany. I had to lose myself to find myself again. Strangely, I felt the pull of living Unsettled before I found out about my job ending because I knew I needed to get lost. I knew I wasn’t completely present and was losing the most treasured parts of myself in the process.
Two Weeks in Tuscany
My two weeks in Tuscany with Unsettled was an experience I wanted but can now say for certain that I needed. I didn’t realize how tightly I was holding on to who I thought I was supposed to be as opposed to surrendering to who I really am. It was two weeks of deep exhalation, letting go, emptying my metaphorical backpack full of “should haves” and “what ifs” and really paying close attention to the beauty of the present moment. I came back to my hometown lighter and with a trove of magical memories with new lifelong friends.
I think we all have been thrown into the deep end a few too many times for our own liking. But why do we keep forgetting that we know how to swim?
The rock needs to be hacked at to reveal the diamond. The chestnut needs to fall to reveal its fruit. Why do pressure and pain have to reveal our greatest gifts? I wish I knew, but what I do know is that the world is not always kind.
Living Unsettled is giving yourself the permission to seek and there is so much you shall find. When I am lost, everything becomes profound. The person that can find beauty in everything is who I want to be in my job, in my relationships and in the new year. I found so much magic in the simplest things in Tuscany.
One morning, I cried lying alone in the sun under an olive tree. I felt so light and also so full of light. For a brief moment, I saw the way the people, who love me, see me. Under that tree I decided to finally come around to loving myself too. When I am lost, I can find the beauty deep within my soul, the beauty underneath those bruises that when pressed and provoked blind me to what I am capable of and all I have overcome.
To quote Rebecca Solnit, “to be lost is to be fully present”. If the universe is going to throw curveballs at us anyway, why don’t we preempt those waves and surrender to the beauty of the ride?
Inspired? Sign up for Unsettled Tuscany.