I’m back + what I learned during my ‘vision quest’

I'm back from my 'vision quest' road trip + 2 weeks of living off the grid. Read my personal essay and find out what I learned on jojotastic.com

Hi, guys! I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I’m back from my ‘vision quest’ as my friends came to call it — and also that I so deeply appreciate the amazing support and love that I received when I shared this post. I genuinely didn’t know how you guys would respond, so to be on the receiving end of such kindness was truly inspiring. I’ve never taken off like this and gone totally off the grid. I literally logged out of all of my social media accounts and did not check my email for 2 whole weeks. I had no idea what I’d come back to — would you all be totally over me and my drama and not want to follow the blog anymore? Would my Instagram get hacked and then removed? Seriously, these are the thoughts of a social media addict who knows she has a problem. The first few days were rough because I found myself slipping into what I call The Cycle: see how many likes and new comments are on Instagram, refresh email, see if there are new comments on Facebook, post a few more snaps, think up something witty for Twitter, refresh email, pin a few more ideas for my dream kitchen… The Cycle just goes and goes, so while I was off the grid, I quickly became hyper-aware of it and totally nipped it in the bud. I’ve been back since last Friday, but ever since I’ve been way more cognizant of how and when I use my phone and the internet.

The entire point of the trip was to get away from the noise and clutter of my life and to instead focus on what was directly in front of me: preparing simple meals, setting up camp, navigating to my next destination, befriending locals and inquiring about what to see and do… it was all so simple, yet brought me so much awareness to how I was living my life. I have this tendency to overcomplicate things and rapidly noticed that habit while I was on the road. Most of the time I do this out of that feeling of ‘should,’ as in I should be doing XYZ. During the course of the trip, I simply gave myself the green light to do whatever felt right. If I didn’t feel like making a certain stop along the way, even though I’d planned to go, that was ok. If I wanted to only eat a protein bar for breakfast instead of whipping out the stove and making eggs, that was ok because I had a fully stocked cooler of stuff for an earlier lunch. It was all about whatever I felt like doing at that moment, regardless of what I’d planned.

Now that I’m back, I feel this deep, almost urgent need to simplify every facet of my life. Fewer things, easier meals, simpler plans, uncomplicated interactions with people (and only with the people who matter the most to me). No more shoulds, only wants.

I also realized how just dependent I am on people, especially if I’m not feeling particularly great about myself. So often, I noticed what while I was journaling I’d want to text someone just to get some sort of comfort from them, anything. The reliance to feel better was no longer on myself and that began to frustrate me. I even noticed that I’d reach for my phone to check social media, probably to see how many new followers I have or how many likes something received. Anything for that quick self esteem boost of, “oh, these people like me.” But you know what? That boost is so freaking fleeting. Taking care of myself, however, and truly understanding myself… that’s way more impactful and lasting and real.

It’s been a week since I’ve been back and I do still slip into my habits, especially The Cycle. But in those moments, I am quick to recall the sense of peace that came over me, not just mentally but also physically, when I was able to put down the phone and smell the fresh mountain air. When I was able to actually participate in reality instead of a virtual world that provides a fleeting surge of serotonin. Mountains and rivers provide the true, everlasting boost that my brain needs to make me a happier, healthier person.

I’m curious to see how this evolved Joanna proceeds now, post-vision quest. Admittedly, my first week back has been vaguely stressful. So many emails, so many things to do. But I have a choice and I choose to be calm and only do what I can do.