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bring your own toilet paper
and try not to freak out
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)

I'm leaving the nest, and my parents are - for lack of a better term - totally losing their shit about it.

It's not like I haven't left before. You do remember I moved to Canada, married a Canadian and got kicked out of the country, right Dad? It was less than two years ago and it's still kind of funny-slash-painful for me. The day I went to college with a jeepful of stuff, my grandmother CRIED when she helped me pack everything. I had to box up half my childhood memories that she had sent along so no one would laugh at my stuffed Strawberry Shortcake doll.

Furthermore, I leave the country ALL THE TIME for work. I've been to 18 new countries in the last year. Why aren't they panicking then?

I will acknowledge that this time is a little different. I'm traveling by myself. Across the world. To India. To stay in an ashram. To possibly travel from Kolkata to Agra to Mumbai with no real itinerary or plan. I don't even know when I'm returning to the states.

I guess I should realize to an older generation this sounds insane.

I also realize that while I may be feeling like I've crossed my i's and dotted my t's, things can go ... not according to plan. I also know that when traveling it's best to expect everything, take nothing for granted and just roll with it. I know to bring traveler's checks and cash, to change them for small denominational bills and to never assume you can buy a particular brand you like. I know that toilets on the other side of the world are different, so bring your own toilet paper. I know to wear loose clothing and to not respond to strange men chatting me up. I know to bring my universal travel converter and to never assume I'm going to be able to use it. I know that time is a slippery thing in a third world country, and that trains may or may not run on time. I know that I need to be flexible in my expectations regarding food, and that at the ashram it's all about fulfilling your needs rather than your desires.

My Dad is convinced I'll run out of money in a week and that I'll get stuck there without being able to return home. He also thinks I'll hate being told what to do and hate the ashram and will yell at someone and get kicked out. What am I, 18? (That particular assumption makes me wonder if he hasn't listened to a conversation we've had in the last two years...the last time I actually lost my sense of presence and yelled at someone it was because THEY CHEATED ON ME REPEATEDLY WHILE WE WERE MARRIED. One might think I've learned to pick my battles.)

My Grandmother thinks I'm going to be brainwashed by a cult and ... well, I'm not entirely sure what she thinks happens after I've been brainwashed, she just walks away and never completes the thought.

My Grandad just thinks I'm crazy. That's about par for the course.

I'm feeling frustrated. I have explained as much as I can, and I still get blank looks. It's not their 'cup of tea', but that doesn't mean it's not mine. I'm having trouble getting them to understand my reasons, my desires and what I hope to accomplish. I'm feeling sad and upset that they have so little faith in my sense, my resourcefulness and my planning.

It's not about them, and I know that. Part of what I want from my experience in the ashram is the ability to self-validate, no longer seeking praise from my parents or a boyfriend or a friend. Apparently, I haven't learned that yet, because my pain and frustration is still stemming from the feeling that my parents don't trust me or think I'm an adult or capable of making decisions or being aware of my surroundings or taking care of basic safety precautions.

Because I travel stand-by, even internationally, they're utterly in shock that I don't have a return ticket in hand. I don't even have a return DATE in hand, there are things I would like to do in and out of the ashram and I don't have a time limit. I don't have to be back at work until March 1st and Christmas isn't until December 25th. With the exception of those two dates, I have no plans.

Having no plans IS the plan.

If I'm happy with that, why can't they understand?


Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.

more about maigen thomas


trust your own judgment
but ask questions, and listen to the answers
by maigen thomas
topic: general
published: 10.24.11

the good (and bad) girls guide to...
getting out of the country
by maigen thomas
topic: general
published: 8.25.08


lucy lediaev
9.29.09 @ 1:53p

Don't let family fears intimidate you. Your family may think you are crazy now, but when you come back with wonderful stories of your adventures, maybe some photos, and an even stronger sense of self, they'll only respect you for having taken some risks.

Just keep in touch with them occasionally. The older generation (I'm one of them) tends to worry unless they hear from their kids now and then.

Have a wonderful time. I'm sure you'll find it a growth experience.

maigen thomas
10.22.09 @ 4:51a

Hahaha! I just reread this after my time in the ashram and I have to say one thing: I very nearly did shave my head.

My grandmother would have been convinced I'd joined a cult and there would be nothing I could do or say to change that idea. Good thing I kept my hair on!

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