Sophie Gregoire - How Travelling Changed Me

by GEM Magazine / Aug 05, 2015 / Comments

Some experiences in life truly change us. They can destroy and rebuild our garden. They can give us the food we need to grow.

We can notice these changes most when revisiting places from our past.

For me, this became apparent when visiting an old summer vacation home. While everything had remained the same, I realized it was me who had changed. I had been through an internal revolution since the last time I was there. It surprised me how steady an environment can be while we go through a lot of much change. And how transitory our views can be while all around is at a standstill.

Some say our body changes and we’re entirely renewed every seven years. Every cell on our body is replaced by a new one in that time. Except brain cells - our minds - which last an entire lifetime.

This internal change is stronger than ever as I’ve been getting closer to my core.

I followed my intuition and left my professional background (a well-paid job in consulting in which I felt a total misfit) to live in Cambodia.

Why did I make that decision?

First, I wanted to find meaning within my professional life. I wanted to give a helping hand where it was needed and make my working hours profitable for social issues. On the other hand, I felt completely restricted in my consulting job.

I needed a fresh start.

Moving faraway for a while seemed to be the best idea. I needed to get lost, to see what would happen to me, to see what I would learn about myself and my place in this world.

The experience had such an awakening effect. I discovered how important it was for me to work with people and have a purpose. What’s more was I found myself alone, and needed to break the shell of my background to adapt and feel comfortable there.

Out of the shell, far from the habits I was used to, I found myself.

Out of the shell, I had to face the raw me. I had the chance to build new friendships and discover people who I had an intense connections with. Sometimes these connections had more similarities than the ones I knew at home.

I believe that I needed to get far away to experience the inside of my heart and learn to listen to its melody.

I was also completely fascinated with Cambodia; the culture, the people and their resilience. I yearned to learn more, to see more, to contribute more.

When I came back the challenge was to figure out how I could transform all that I had learnt there.

I completely refused to go back to my former life as if nothing had happened. My views had changed and I wanted to align this with my daily actions. I therefore needed to find balance within myself. A balance between the old me and the new me, while staying true to my heart.

This was no easy task.

Something that has helped on this path are the lucky 'coincidences', synchronicities, or however you choose to describe them. These are notions I truly believe in. I take these magical experiences as a sign from the Universe. A sign that makes me feel comfortable with my choices.

They also helped in figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. I knew I wanted to help and understand how Cambodia could improve. Not at an economical level but on a human one.

I hoped that I could one day make an impact. 
I hoped that people would speak out about what life was really like, behind what we call "development" or "economical growth".

After the many twists and turns in my mind, I decided to start from the beginning and become a researcher for developing countries. Although it requires a lot of hard work, I can feel the connection between what I want to achieve and my inner melody grow. They are beginning to dance together.

It’s a new beginning.

And it always brings me back to thinking about the parts of us we lose or let go, and the parts of us that we keep or choose to develop on our journeys.

Maybe we only keep what’s really important, what’s really us. Our essence. Maybe through time we progressively lose the superficial layers of skin that were not really ourselves. Those that we had passively received from the outside, to get progressively to our core.

By Sophie Gregoire.

Sophie is often found contemplating an idea or how to explain a new concept, with a notebook and pencil in hand. She is an independent soul who loves to ponder over our world and humankind. She loves writing to transform her endless thoughts into some kind of reality and taveling both faraway and deep and her heart & mind. She savours coffee, encounters, yoga and meditation, with her cat as her greatest muse.

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