My first contract of #shiplife will be coming to a close in 11 days. Time always seems to have passed so quickly when you reach the end but the journey here was so very long. Working and living on this ship has been moments of pure adulterated joy combined with periods of sadness, confusion, and a ton of introspection.
My job is great. I get to talk about food, interact with people, and it’s been great for my public speaking skills. I’ve only had one complaint to my face. It was from a vegetarian who said I didn’t take vegetarian food seriously enough because I said you could top the black bean burger with anything you want, bacon anyone? (Joke, duh) If this job was on land I would like to think be completely fulfilled. (Although its dangerous to think one is ever completely fulfilled, but that’s a whole different blog post) I’m learning to be a great presenter it’s not so much about your audience but really about your own excitement about the material, sometimes I just have to laugh at myself when my very best jokes are greeted with silence. Having an engaged and vibrant audience will always make for the best shows, but the show must go on no matter what. Lucky for me food is something I am vey passionate about so even when a guest is sleeping in the first row I take no offense, I just imagine the smells must have lulled them to a better place. Plus half my audience is normally over the age of 65 they need and deserve their rest, or maybe they are just “resting their eyes” like my dad used to when I would try to steal the remote.
The joy comes from all the new experiences. I’ve gone hiking up the most gorgeous temperate rainforests. Literally Alaska is magical, I find myself imagining fairies and gnomes inhabiting the area. The tall trees humble while the trickling waterfalls rejunvenate me. The ferns, mosses, and mushrooms add to the beauty. I’ve see wild animals I never would have imagined seeing in their actual habitats. My highlights were bears and otters, so freaking cute! I finally got a free excursion to high tea in Victoria, highly recommended, where I indulged in so many many scones..mmm. Nothing can describe the connection I feel to the world watching sunsets and sunrises across the horizon, the sky painted in new colors each fall and rise of the day, no two days ever the same.
It has been not only my connection with nature that brought me joy but I have met some truly genuine people with whom I have shared these many adventures. Everyone has such a different story and background, helping us all gain new perspective on the world in its entirety. Respect to everyone who lives this nomadic sea life because despite all the perks it is hard. Yet most of us manage to keep a smile on our face everyday. For the length of our contracts we create our joy from nothing with people we don’t know and these experiences will have life long lasting impact.
So you may be thinking this all sounds great, where is there room for sadness and confusion? Confusion lies in the details of #shiplife and nearly two months in I’m still finding it difficult to navigate rules simply because I don’t know them all. Also just some logistical things like for example, how to change airline tickets are just not communicated so well. I’d equate it to going to UC Berkeley, a giant school where no one holds your hand. If you need something you better research it well in advance, find who ever you need, and continue to follow up.
Sadness comes in two parts. Unlike some people who have done this job 2-3-10 years and this is their real life, two months in this is definitely not my real life. I have strong social circles at home and relationships that are very difficult to maintain (and expensive thanks to the ridiculous internet packages) being so far away. Also nothing in #shiplife is permanent, the same genuine people I just described above are always coming and going. We experience these really intense funny, deep, and connective moments together and the next week they are gone. The combination of feeling disconnected from home and constant change over of people on ships can leave one in a really lonely place.
Being in this lonely place is a perfect for introspection because essentially surrounded by all the chaos and fun I am alone. It’s a scary place to be, lost in my own thoughts with no distractions from others, but it is here one’s own potential can be realized. Thinking through all the data points and patterns of my life, noting what has served me well and what could have been done better. I’ve lived a pretty bad ass life and made some really ballsy choices, but it’s not just how life appears, internally I needed to check in and ask hey Kathleen are you ok, what do you really want, what’s missing-if anything? Understanding everything I allow to enter my energy space has the potential to shape me, so I better have VIP list moving forward. However, it’s not just about knowing what I want, but knowing why I want it and then reaching for it with no fear. I know, and am often told, of my potential, but potential can just be pressure if you don’t feel your own power. I have been in a sense “lost at sea” but internally emerging from this place of solitude with a better understanding of self with no apologies for who I am or who I grow to be. Closing out with one of my favorite quotes, I encourage everyone to just let themselves wander because you never know what you might find.
**Emerging is dramatic because I only have a ten day break from #shiplife and then right back into more drama and chaos on an even bigger ship.
**These opinions are my own and not reflective of the company who employs me.