Life Lessons Walking 800km Across Spain

Have you ever decided to do something that turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of your life?

In August 2022, I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago: 31 days. 800km. Solo.

And while everyone I knew was freaking out about a young, blonde woman walking solo across Spain, it was something I felt like I HAD to do. It was like an inner knowing that I was meant to do this walk.

So despite me classifying “training” as doing 5km morning walks (…occasionally), I listened to that my inner knowing, that gut feeling, and set off for Spain… And I couldn’t be more grateful I did.

The Experience

To say this trip was phenomenal is an understatement. The places I saw, the experiences I had, the emotions I felt and the incredible people I now call my family.

It was like a moving meditation for 31 days – being in a state of presence like never before. My body was so physically exhausted, but my mind was the quietest it had ever been. Everything was heightened: my highs were higher, and the lows were harder (like when a person you met 6 days ago leaves and we all cry for 2 hours). Even my sense of taste was stronger.

So not only was this the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but it was also the BEST thing I had ever done.

I was so happy. My soul was on fire. My heart was wide open.

Life Lessons from the Camino

I reflected and journaled throughout my month of walking (as a writer, lugging around that extra weight of my beautiful monogrammed journal was an “essential”).  And though it is hard to describe the emotional enormity and impact it had on myself and the people that walked it, I can at least summarise my insights. In the stillness of my mind, I discovered lessons that can be applied to anyone’s life today – and you definitely don’t have to walk 800km to experience them:

1. To be grateful for the Small things

I have never been more grateful for a towel at a hostel. Eating the best tortilla for breakfast after 13km of no food. Finding water after running out 4km back on a 42 degree day. Such basic things, but I felt such an overjoyed sense of gratitude.

In today’s society, we live our days wanting more that we forget to appreciate what we already have. Every day is a gift, and even on the shit days we have so much to be grateful for.

2. To care less about the appearance of my skin #lessfucksgiven.

For anyone who has struggled with skin issues you know how debilitating and life-affecting it can be. I would NEVER leave the house without make-up on for fear of people seeing my acne and scars. If you told a younger version of myself that I would spend 5 weeks without my skincare, my supplements, looking my “worst” around new people (e.g nothing to cover my red acne scars and basically a hot, sweaty mess 10 hours of the day), I NEVER would have gone.

But this trip was one of the most revelatory experiences for me. It was liberating. Freeing. I didn’t spend hours thinking about my skin, what I looked like or what others would think. I just didn’t care.

It was the first time I ever thought myself as beautiful with absolutely nothing on my face.

I always thought the saying: “People will love you no matter what your skin looks like” only applied to people who ALREADY loved me. The ones who knew me. I didn’t think it would apply to strangers who you’re trying to get to know. They would obviously notice my red scars.

But I was wrong. No one is actually looking at your skin – they really don’t give a shit. Because people gravitate to you based on WHO YOU ARE. It’s your personality, your conversation, your soul that shines the brightest regardless of what you look like.

It was my reminder that beauty is never just skin deep. Beauty truly radiates from within and emanates from your soul.

3. You are stronger than you think

At the beginning of the walk, I pushed through enormous amounts of pain: I’m talking walking for DAYS with the biggest infected blisters you have ever seen (that eventually forced me to go to hospital in the middle of rural Spain, having 3 doctors over my feet and being told I couldn’t walk for 2 days… yeah it was bad). Through it all, my mind was so strong. It refused to give up even though my body was screaming at me stop. Even though every single step hurt.

Now I hate the saying: mind over matter. Because pain hurts, it fucking hurts a lot. It takes a lot of discipline and resilience to go through pain every single day.

But at the end of the day, you are capable of pushing through things you never thought possible. Your mind is stronger than the pain you go through.

4. To trust life

This was our groups motto on the Camino (and literally the word would appear on signs just as I needed the reminder). As a type A planner who can over-plan things and have a 5 year plan outlined, I was reminded that sometimes things are not meant to be planned. Sometimes when we over-plan things we miss out on the magic that is meant for us. We’re so busy forcing life a certain way or aiming for that goal, that we are tunnel visioning out a path that might be even better.

When we allow life to flow with us and trust that everything is working for us, we open ourselves up to possibilities that are far better than we expected. Like missing out on a job you thought you wanted, but finding a job that was even better than you imagined. Or getting your heart broken and finding your forever partner in your next relationship.

It’s about having a life that co-exists with both flow and structure simultaneously. Where you can plan things, but not be too rigid in the outcome. To release expectations and allow the space to surrender and trust that something better might be available to you. You just have to get out of your own way.

5. We don’t need much in life to be happy

For 5 weeks I only carried a backpack with everything in it I needed to survive. It wasn’t a lot. But it was my home in one bag. It’s humbling to think that with just these minimal things I was the happiest I had ever felt.

Does that mean I’m going to come back home and throw away all my possession and live out of a bag. Realistically… no. But it reaffirms that material possessions are just that… things. They are things that can be taken away from us easily, and at the same time can never be taken with us when we leave this world.

You don’t need all these material things to find happiness. Because you alone determine your state of happiness.

So there you have it, my life learnings and thoughts. I feel like there will be many more reflections to come out of the Camino because it truly was life changing (honestly cannot recommend it enough if you feel the pull to do it).

If you want to hear more, or have questions about the nitty gritty of it, pop a comment in the box below or send me a DM or email. I love hearing from you and will forever want to talk about the Camino (also saves my partner from hearing about it on repeat).

Sending love and happiness for your week.

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