I wish I could just press a button and return to normal that easily. But then, that would rather defeat the purpose. Holidays are wonderful things; small breaks from reality where you can relax and de-stress. I was not on holiday, despite what many of my friends seem to think.
I can honestly say the last 5 weeks have included moments of physical agony, mental agony, joy, happiness, wonder, horror, insanity, moments where I felt completely content and others when I questioned every decision I’ve ever made. That’s quite a lot to fit into 5 weeks, but then, if an experience like this cannot change you, what can?
A lot of people will ask me why I went and a lot of others will ask me if they think they should go to. I think it’s like getting a tattoo. You cannot tell something they should get a tattoo. And you cannot agree with them if they ask you. A tattoo is an extremely personal decision that you have to make yourself, and it takes time (at least for the first tat). I will never ever tell anyone to walk the Camino. I won’t even tell them to if they ask me if they should. I will, however, advise anyone that does ask me and tell them truthfully what it’s like. Because I met a lot of people along the way who had no idea what they were getting into and even though most of them finished, they wished they had come better prepared. I was very prepared and there were still days it was hell and I wanted to get on a plane and come back home.
I did not spent quality time thinking about my PhD, though I did spend time considering what happens after my PhD, and came to a few conclusions on the rest of my life. So, life-wise, I’m in a much better place and feel more at peace with myself. PhD-wise? Well, that’s tomorrow’s problem I guess! I figure I still have the summer to fully figure it out (though my supervisor will think differently when I meet him tomorrow).
What I can say is that, honestly, I have no regret of going, or how I walked it, or the reasons I walked the route, or the friends I’ve made or the places I visited. And being able to say I don’t regret something so monumental in my life is fantastic. A lot of people can’t say that about the tattoo they got.
As for tattoos, I think I will get one for this experience. Something like this changes you permanently, so why shouldn’t I mark myself in a permanent way? Something small though; no use regretting that.