Looking Forward while Giving Back – a State of Mind

Who am I, really? Friend? Mother? Partner? Wife? Doctor? General Manager? CEO? … Who am I without titles and societal labels? Who defines our identity and determines our essence beyond these roles?
Status, symbols of ‘success’, markers of societal approval… What happens when we choose to relinquish them? 

 

These were the questions swirling in my mind after conversing with Sigrid, my fellow adventurer on a recent motorcycle journey with FreeW through India, where we immersed ourselves in the vibrant Bathukamma festival, sharing insightful experiences with local women, and reconnecting to our femininity.

Describing the experience as liberating and life-changing, Sigrid shared insights on mindset and what makes life interesting and vibrant, especially as we age. Intrigued by her focus on mindset and her philosophy on leading a fulfilling life, I delved deeper into her story.

“I’m (just) Sigrid,” she says with a smile, as we connect via Zoom from her Bangkok apartment. She recounts her journey to the pillion seat of a Royal Enfield in Telangana, India. Thirty years ago, Sigrid moved from Germany to Thailand for her first job in Asia. She obtained a motorbike license in the Black Forest, anticipating Thailand’s motorbike culture. However, upon arrival, she decided against riding due to the chaotic traffic. In her role as a hotel General Manager, chauffeured around and consumed by work, motorcycling seemed a distant dream.

It wasn’t until a decade ago, after bidding farewell to the corporate world, that Sigrid rediscovered her passion for two-wheeled adventures.

“I embarked on my first motorcycle journey by renting a scooter on a Thai island,” she recalls. “And then, a trip to Myanmar opened my eyes to the thrill of riding through rugged terrains on a semi- automatic motorbike.”

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Inspired by her encounter with Alison, the founder of FreeW, through a professional networking platform, she felt compelled to join the India tour, despite a long hiatus from motorcycling and some apprehension.

“I hadn’t ridden in 25 years!” Sigrid admits. 

Initially hesitant about her riding skills, Sigrid trained briefly but found it challenging. Alison encouraged her to join as a pillion with the option to ride when she felt comfortable. Emboldened by Alison’s suggestion, Sigrid took the plunge  to explore India in an unconventional way, knowing it was also an amazing opportunity to give back to women locally.

Reflecting on the journey, Sigrid marvels at the bond forged among fellow travelers, transcending differences in backgrounds and ages. They shared a similar mindset and a common purpose on this trip, which fostered a supportive and positive environment.

Contrary to apprehensions voiced by some, she found India to be a land of warmth and hospitality. “People warned me about safety concerns, especially as a woman. I felt nothing but welcomed and embraced,” she says. Our humble and immersive approach to travel rather triggered curiosity and community connection. Riding as a pillion allowed Sigrid to capture photos and videos, engaging with locals in a joyful manner.

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This adventure was a highlight of her year and reignited her interest in motorbiking. Determined to gain her Thai bike license, she trained on a 125cc bike, overcoming setbacks like broken ribs and dismissive comments about her age.

Sigrid’s new social networks grew while her riding skills improved. Conversations with men often revolved around technical aspects of biking, while discussions with women focused on community and enjoyment. The experience also prompted introspection on societal perceptions of age, using it as inspiration rather than a limitation.

“Why must age confine us to predetermined roles? Why should ’60’ be synonymous with ‘granny’ rather than ‘adventurer’?”, Sigrid questions.

 

Sigrid redefined herself, focusing on her identity rather than what society wants to impose on her. Leaving work years ago, Sigrid speaks of transitioning instead of retiring. She now seeks to shape her next 30 years, emphasizing the importance of giving back and finding a new purpose beyond societal roles.

She believes that ignoring the constraints of aging opens up endless possibilities. This mindset shift has expanded her social environment, including people of various ages. For Sigrid, age is merely a state of mind, a perspective she carries into her newfound passion for motorcycling and beyond. Moving from a career in luxury hotels to staying in small homestays, Sigrid was introduced to a diverse and inspirational community. 

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Engaging with vibrant, positive energy, she believes, is crucial for a fulfilling life. And that’s exactly what she has found with motorcycling and travelling with FreeW.

“Transitioning into this phase of life isn’t about retirement; it’s about rediscovery and reinvention,” she asserts. “It’s about shaping the next chapter with purpose and giving back to others.”

 

Sigrid’s journey is a testament to the power of mindset in creating an interesting and meaningful life, regardless of age.

As I reflect on Sigrid’s story, I’m reminded of the courage it takes to chart one’s own course, to defy societal norms, and to embrace the unknown by stepping out of one’s comfort zone. In her words, life is indeed a tapestry of intriguing possibilities, waiting to be explored.

Thanks to Janelle for her insightful interview of Sigrid, allowing to share the essence of her story.

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