Where to even begin. My heart, body and mind are overwhelmed, exploding at the seams. I have never known love, support and belonging to feel this strong, this abundant.
When I decided to quit my jobs back in May to hit the open road, I had no clue just how deep I was about to dive into this world-wide community of travelling nomads. This year I learned that community goes far beyond the organized Van Gathering tours that happen globally. The connections become so much deeper than just a weekend. They become life long bonds.. a chosen family. It has become a lifestyle where morning coffee’s, communal dinners, camp outs in the woods and late night chats around the fire become every day life. And if you’ve done some travelling before, then I’m sure you are familiar with the feeling you receive when you meet a group of like-minded humans that you absolutely adore; it becomes very easy to turn days into weeks, and even weeks into months if you’re lucky.
I was one of the lucky ones.
I have attended Vanlife Gatherings in the years prior, but something special happened after The Grand Tetons event back in June. An experience that overwhelmed me with a strong knowing that this year it was going to be different. After the amazing weekend we had, there was a surprisingly large number of humans and vans that weren’t ready to part ways. Alex and I had heard that “a few” people were going to go stay up in the mountains for a night or two. We were both pretty exhausted and feeling a bit anti-social but thought it would be nice to spend one more night parked up with our new friends. When we pulled into the large forest opening, we were fully blown away by the amount of people that were there. If I remember correctly, we were van number 38 that arrived that evening. The smiles were growing on faces, welcoming every new member arriving. Alex and I instantly felt energized as our bodies filled with happiness and excitement, knowing that we had made the right decision to come here. Our rolling homes covered the land like a game of Tetris, the full moon was rising over the mountains, the communal fire was massive, and the laughter and chatter echoed through the forest. Our energies were electric. I could feel within me that the minds and bodies that surrounded me were collectively beginning to feel at home, together. It was an unforgettable night, the beginning of something wildly spectacular.
At the time, I couldn’t help but to wonder what was truly happening here. What was the intention of this force that was drawing us together? What was our purpose of being? The answers became clear as the the days and weeks continued.
One month in Colorado. One whole month of road trips, convoys, campouts, adventures, connection, sharing, story telling, experiencing and the truly beautiful wanting to open ourselves up on a new level. It was pure magic. However, as dreamy as this sounds, there is much more to it that just that. I am going to give you some insight on how the power of having a community like this, can greatly effect, challenge and change you.
I have always considered myself to be an open and self-aware women but it wasn’t until the first couple of weeks with my new found family, that I came to the emotional realization that I still had a lot of inner demons to heal.
For the last 8 years I have been battling my anxiety and depression as it comes in unexpected waves. It has been important for me to keep an open dialog with my followers, regarding my mental illness during this journey of being on the road. I was proud of the strong and independent women I became, able to tackle these mental (and at times physical) struggles all on my own. Taking the time to do the inner work, reflect and then share my after thoughts/ experience with others.
However, during those first couple of weeks, I witnessed myself retreating inward when experiencing my anxiety. I was surrounded by an abundance of good people who love, care and support me.. yet I wasn’t opening up to them about what was going on with me. If I am such an open person, why wasn’t I reaching out for the help and support that was literally outside my door? It was a challenge for me to truly allow my community ‘in’ when I needed it most. For the years I had relied on only myself, in fact, wasn’t actually me being strong and independent.. but rather, it was a comfort zone I found within myself when I was most scared.
All anyone wants in this life is love and support and here I was, blessed with an abundance of it, so I knew that I needed to start utilizing what was right in front of me. After realizing this pattern within myself I began to express it to a few others in hopes that someone would relate. As it turns out, the more I shared the more others began to open up as well. It was a beautiful domino effect that proved to us all that, if you show up exactly as you are, you will find what is needed – Love and belonging.
Regardless of how I was able to open up, there were many occasions that I found myself getting frustrated that I was still experiencing so much anxiety. It felt as if there were more low days than high days and I hated that. “I am surrounded by so much beauty and opportunity! I am on a road trip of a life time.. I shouldn’t feel this way!!“. But that is EXACTLY why I was feeling like this. I was experiencing growing pains, wildly intense but necessary growing pains. It was all influenced by the way this community so profoundly holds space for one another. It is a space where you feel accepted, seen and heard. A space that influences, encourages and challenges you to dive deep within yourself with no judgements on where that journey takes you, and full support on the emotions it brings you. As terrifying as it was for me, I am so damn grateful I was lucky enough to have the courage to allow myself to enter these dark corners of my mind, heal them, and come out the other side as a women with a whole new prospective on life.
The unique individuals that makes up this community are greatly passionate and talented beings. Music, writing, photography, singing, poetry, cooking, yoga, dance.. the list goes on and on. I felt positively inspired the more time I spent admiring everyone and their talents. Not only were these their passions, but more often than not it was their way of sustaining this lifestyle. I’ve been aware of the opportunity this lifestyle can provide by being a digital nomad, combining life’s pleasures with work. I had just never believed it was possible for me because I had never felt the confidence in my own talents and passions before. But nevertheless, that self doubt was put to rest when I felt just how much this community wanted to help me and everyone in it, succeed and rise up to live their full potential. I get emotional talking about this, because I have never had a group of people believe in me the way that this community has. Just as I encouraged others to live their truth and step into their higher power, they reciprocated that encouragement to me. It is magic the way this energy continues to pulsated through me. I feel it every day.
So, not only does this travelling, nomadic community of life lovers and adventure seekers offer life-long memories of absolute crazy adventures, connections and experiences.. we have created a home. A home that not only exists in the physical form, but one that will live within us forever. A knowing that no matter the distance we are from one another, the time in between reuniting or the separate paths our journeys may take us.. we will always have a family to call home. This wasn’t just a summer, a road trip or a vacation.. it became a lifestyle, a necessity and infinite connection that I am beyond humbled to be apart of.
6 thoughts on “The Power Of Community”
This is magical and you captured the essence of community beautifully. I am so happy to have had the luxury to witness you and all your growth this summer, and I know deep in my heart that this is just the beginning, you are blossoming into an incredibly wise women you should be proud of!
I Love you my sister and forever grateful to be apart of our crazy, caring, rolling family!
My dearest sister Neesa, I love you so much. Your words mean the world to me xx
Thank you for being such an incredible support system, personal cheer leader, and best friend!
I am so happy that you were on this crazy experience with us. And I am looking forward to continuing it together this new year <3
Beautiful capture of a time that extends beyond time! It was a voyage of discovery in all the wild, intense and colourful ways. Thank you for sharing you.
Thank you darling, I’m so happy that I had the honour to connect and spend as much time as I did with you and Joshy. You two were a huge part of my Journey and an absolute asset to this community! I can’t wait to reunite our paths in the future. Love you!
I feel like community when first starting vanlife is over looked and many people focus on the adventure and posting the coolest pictures, Clarissa you have truly captured the essence of community and have created such a strong bond among van dwellers. You truly are an amazing representation of the strength and love a community can offer. I love you my friend.
Love this!! Considering van life and feeling the pull. Keep writing!
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