Everyone thought I was running away by not coming home for Christmas. They didn’t realize I was running towards myself.

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Choosing to spend Christmas alone in a foreign country instead of returning home to the familiar celebrations and family gatherings was a decision that raised more than a few eyebrows among my friends and family. “You’re running away,” they said, their voices tinged with a mix of concern, confusion, and disappointment. But deep down, I knew better.

A year before, I had moved to Brazil for work, leaving behind the chilly winters of New Jersey for the tropical beaches and vibrant culture of Rio de Janeiro. While the language barrier was challenging, I found myself drawn to the rhythm of the city, its music that echoed in every corner, the warmth of its people, and the richness of its history.

The first few months were filled with novelty and adventure. I was like a sponge, soaking up every experience – from learning Portuguese to navigating the labyrinthine city streets on foot and deciphering local customs. The journey was exhilarating but also exhausting. Between work commitments and assimilating into a new culture, I barely had time to catch my breath.

When December rolled around, the question arose – should I return home for the holidays? The thought of slipping back into familiar rituals was tempting. But something within me resisted. I felt an inexplicable urge to stay put, to spend Christmas in Brazil – alone but not lonely. And so, I did.

As expected, my decision was greeted with skepticism back home. “Why are you avoiding us?” they questioned. But contrary to what everyone thought, I wasn’t running away. What they didn’t realize was this – in choosing to stay where I was, I was running towards myself.

This decision marked the start of a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and growth that continues till this day. Reflecting upon it now as I sit in my apartment in Colorado, I realize how much that choice to stay in Brazil for Christmas changed my life. Here’s what it’s been like since that fateful festive season and how it shaped the person I am today.

Embracing a solitary Christmas in Brazil

That Christmas Eve, I found myself in a small apartment overlooking the bustling streets of Rio. Instead of the familiar scent of pine trees and gingerbread, my senses were filled with the aroma of the ocean and the distant rhythm of samba music. I had no gifts to unwrap, no family to share a festive meal with.

I spent the day walking along Copacabana beach, exploring local markets, and making small talk with vendors in my broken Portuguese. The city was alive with celebration, but I was an observer, not a participant.

In the evening, I cooked a simple meal and watched the city’s fireworks display from my balcony. Alone in a sea of celebration, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I wasn’t running away from anything; instead, I was running towards a new understanding of who I was and what I wanted.

This solitary Christmas gave me time for introspection, for appreciating solitude, and for understanding that happiness could be found outside of familiar traditions and expectations. It was a pivotal moment that led to a deeper understanding of myself.

In the next section, I will delve into a common belief about spending holidays alone and how my experience in Brazil led me to see things from a different perspective.

Challenging the notion of holiday loneliness

There’s a prevailing belief that spending holidays alone, especially Christmas, is synonymous with loneliness. The image of someone alone on Christmas evokes feelings of sadness and isolation. But my experience in Brazil was far from this stereotype.

Rather than feeling lonely or sad, I found peace in solitude. I discovered that being alone did not equate to loneliness. Instead, it provided me an opportunity to connect with myself on a deeper level. It gave me space to reflect on my life, my choices, and my aspirations without distractions or obligations.

I reveled in the freedom to celebrate in my own way, exploring a new culture, and meeting new people. I discovered that breaking away from traditional expectations can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.

In hindsight, this solitary Christmas was the catalyst for a significant shift in my understanding of myself and my place in the world. It challenged the narrative of holiday loneliness and showed me that being alone can be empowering.

Embracing solitude for personal growth

In the aftermath of that solitary Christmas, I realized that embracing solitude was not just about spending time alone. It was about using that time for self-reflection, for understanding my own needs and desires, and for setting my own course in life.

If you’re contemplating spending a holiday alone or are feeling pressured to conform to traditional expectations, consider this: solitude can be a powerful tool for personal growth. It allows you to connect with yourself, to reflect on your life, and to make decisions based on your own desires and needs, rather than societal expectations.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s spending a holiday alone in a new country or simply taking time off to be by yourself, embrace the opportunity. Use this time to learn more about yourself and what makes you happy.

It’s not about running away from something; it’s about running towards a deeper understanding of yourself. By embracing solitude and stepping away from traditional expectations, you can foster personal growth and pave the way for a life that truly reflects who you are.

Stepping back and reshaping reality

My experience in Brazil, especially that solitary Christmas, made me question many preconceived notions and societal expectations I had unconsciously internalized. It was a stark revelation that our perceived reality is often shaped by external influences and societal conditioning.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Taking responsibility for my decisions, even when they defy societal norms, empowered me to shape my own destiny.
  • Learning to think for myself was liberating. I understood that most of what we consider normal comes from societal expectations and cultural programming.
  • Recognizing my dissatisfaction with adhering to traditional holiday customs, rather than suppressing it, was an important first step.
  • Understanding the difference between blind positivity and facing the reality of my situation made me more resilient.
  • Pursuing personal ambitions and desires over externally imposed ones led to a more fulfilling life.

This shift in perspective was not an overnight transformation. It was a journey of self-exploration that required me to question societal myths and expectations. I had to break free from the familiar and embrace the unknown.

If you’re feeling trapped in societal expectations or struggling with any other issue, remember this: You have the power to reshape your reality. Embrace the journey of self-exploration. Question societal myths. Align your life with your true nature.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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