Traveling To Bali With No Expectations… And Leaving Full

By: Ayrïd Chandler, Graphic Designer & Unsettled: Bali alum

When I chose to go on a month long trip to Bali by myself, I chose to go with as little expectations as possible. I didn’t want to be disappointed, I didn’t want anything to ruin my experience. And on the first day, we were asked to make some expectations. We had to think about what we wanted from this month, with these strangers in this strange place, we had to dare to want. And my one word to summarize what I wanted out of the experience was: MORE. Seems like a cop out word, but as someone who’s been going into things with few expectations for fear of being let down, I feel like MORE is an apt word in this instance. I wanted more challenges, to learn more, to see more, to push myself beyond the known, into the unknown. 

At the end of the month, we had to choose another word that summarized how we felt in that moment, and my heart was so full at the fact that my expectations were surpassed, that word was obviously: FULL. In that moment, I felt full of love for and from my fellow Unsettlers and all that we had gone through and grown through together in such a short space of time. The bond that we formed was surreal and beyond anything I could’ve ever expected at the beginning. I felt quite literally full of delicious food because our family dinners were amazing experiences cooked by our hands, feeding not just our bellies but our hearts. I felt full of inspiration and beauty from the amazing space that is Ubud, Canggu, and Denpasar. As a creative, inspiration was everywhere, from the stray dogs with their red scarves, to scooter rides past temples and natural archways, to the sculptures and architecture, to the monkeys!

And then I returned home.

I stayed full for as long as I could muster, saying yes to new opportunities that came my way, buying new plants to fill my space with more greenery, joining a co-working space to be around more like-minded individuals, getting a roommate since I discovered I actually do not like being alone as much as I thought I did. But the ‘Bali Blues’ as we called it, sunk in hard. We connected so deeply with 18 people and then we said goodbye and returned to our different parts of the world. The loss was felt. We were in paradise, life was easy, we started to form new habits and ways of being and then we returned to lives where no one else experienced what we experienced, and there weren’t any places of escape we could go to in our homes, to feel a hint of what we felt in Bali. Needless to say, I was on empty once again, wanting more.

Ah but technology! Staying in touch has helped. What’s even weirder is that we are staying connected to each other’s lives. I’ve met many people when I’ve traveled in the past. I have not stayed in touch with one. I am very much guilty of “out of sight, out of mind” but this Unsettled family is different. Candice has been writing a weekly blog on each of us every Sunday bringing each of us back to life for the group. Betty is the glue that holds us together, scheduling video calls and checking in individually to make sure we’re okay. As an only child, from a small family, having found a family of what once was strangers from 14 countries to now call my own, is more than I could’ve ever expected to happen from my Unsettled experience. 

And every day, they fill me back up again.

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