What can I tell you about me?
When I was growing up in England, I had problems finding friends that I could really connect with. I was almost troubled with a double life of a few groups of friends where I could never tell who I fit in with the most. I was friends with the space-cadets and I was friends with the popular kids, but who were my real friends? I changed my personality for each group to what they found likable. It was a constant identity crisis, I was trying to find purpose in my life, trying to figure out what it means to be a man. This has plagued me for my whole life.
At 16 I left school to join the British Army, I did it in part because of laziness, I knew I could get away with the bare minimum and still join the Army. Once I left school, this would become my new life. The other part was to show people that I was capable, that I was strong enough to be able to make it in the Army. It never was really for myself, I needed it to prove to others that I could do it.
For 7 years I thrived. I was a decent soldier. People liked me, I got along with most people, I was respected, and I felt I found my purpose. Then Afghanistan came, and I was very excited to go, but it wasn’t for the right reasons. I liked that it was dangerous and that people saw me as a brave soldier. It gave me an easy to follow routine, wake up, brush your teeth, patrol, fight, eat, sleep, repeat. The human mind craves simplicity and routine and that’s what made it so enjoyable for me. But it wasn’t without its lowest lows.
I came back from Afghanistan with a very real sense of arrogance of thinking I was much better than the average person. I kept hold of that for a long time after. It wasn’t until I started traveling, and started meeting people from around the world that knocked me down a peg or two (or 10). That even your deepest darkest thoughts have been felt by millions of other people. That I am not special or unique and we are all more similar than we would like to admit.
Even after traveling for so long, I was still constantly trying to change the world around me instead of changing myself to adapt to the world.
That’s where this trip comes in, jumping on a bike, and pedaling as fast as I can for as long as I can. Bikes only pedal one way, they can’t take you backwards, only forwards. The rules of border crossings are finite, you have to abide by them. Cultures and people don’t bend to your ideals, you have to bend to theirs. At 28 years old, this is how I will change myself to adapt to the world.
Just go with the flow, man!