In the past year, I’ve made it to ten new countries during two separate trips to Europe. I settled into my first “big girl” apartment that is home to just me and my dog; I’ve started making enough money that I no longer struggle between paychecks and resort to asking my parents for groceries; I published, and got paid for, about 80 blog posts on some pretty great websites; I’ve developed and maintained relationships with bloggers and travelers in my professional and personal life and, most impressively, I have a boyfriend.
About a month ago, I came back from Europe to my home province and immediately started attending regular yoga classes, teaching fitness classes, and fell right back into hanging out with my friends. I’m currently in my first week of three months of travel which includes some pretty amazing trips, experiences, and opportunities which I’m extremely grateful for.
I love working from home and teaching fitness classes. Sometimes I go to the yoga studio for two hours a day and walk home feeling all zen and shit. The goals and plans that I have for myself are within reach. My friends come over and ask me about my travels and look at all my coins and maps. I get told that my life is “so cool” and I’m “so lucky” and that makes sense because travel is idolized. Travel is strength. Travel is independence, landmark selfies, and hashtags.
Everything is going really well… and it’s totally stressing me out.
POOR ME – LIFE IS GOOD
Lately, I go through a few days where I can’t catch my breath and wonder if I’m experiencing some sort of multi-day state of a panic attack.
I know, I know.
“Oh no”, cries the white, middle class, Canadian girl with all dreams within her reach, food (beer, and wine) in her fridge, and enough spare time to take naps.
“I feel so alone and empty”, she tells herself in the morning, while enjoying her avocado and doing a daily check on world events from her warm safe home.
“Poor me”, she exclaims, checking her new outfit in the mirror before a night out of multiple beers with multiple friends.
Silence is uncomfortable; what used to be fun has become boring; relaxing is a waste of time. There’s a part of long term or constant travel that isn’t talked about too often. I can’t speak for everyone but there’s something so painfully lonely about this home again gone again lifestyle. I go away, I make new friends, I leave them almost immediately. I come home to my friends who I suddenly don’t connect with in the way I used to.
WHERE DO I BELONG?
It’s a funny thing, being gone for so long. I come home with the expectation of having missed out on so much. I want to hear what’s new and catch up on everyone’s lives. Some things change and it’s uncomfortable to be the new girl to the old news. Often everything is the exact same as when I left. What’s even harder to digest is that I wasn’t missed in any significant way. Sure, my family and friends are happy to have me home but everything went on without me and everything in the country I just left? It’s business as usual there as well.
No matter where I am, I don’t NEED to be there.
I keep searching for that ‘whole’ feeling. I’m like a drug addict always trying to feel that first high except, instead of using drugs to reach euphoria, I’m looking for experiences; I’m looking for countries to add to the list of places I’ve been; I’m looking for a stupid Instagram like.
Since being home I’ve been spending a hell of a lot of time working out. I read books at coffee shops just to get out of the house and feel like I’m doing something productive. I invite friends over on a daily basis and never turn down an invitation to go out. I will do absolutely anything to keep busy and still, the only thing I look forward to is bedtime because it’s one day closer to my next big adventure so I can pretend, for a while, that what I’m looking for will be there.
I’m worried that I’ve conditioned myself to being on the move.
Am I only content in chaos? Am I only satisfied with not knowing what’s next? Am I only comfortable in situations that force me to feel uncomfortable?
My day to day life is so good, so normal, so healthy, and so on track with where I want to take my life that I want to scream. Is this the result of accessible travel and entertainment at my fingertips? Is there something I’m missing that I haven’t figured out yet?
I’m never satisfied with where I am. I always feel the urge to travel and find a new place with new people where I will feel completely at home. I’m looking for something to grab hold of me and say, “Stay here. You belong here”, but it hasn’t happened yet.
WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?
My life isn’t better than yours because I travel. No one’s life is better than yours because they travel.
The places I visit are fascinating. The people from those places are beautiful and unique. The big picture – that the world itself is a beautiful place despite the headlines, politics, and wars – is inspiring. Travel doesn’t make me cool, brave, or fearless. In fact, realizing just how many unique individuals live in this great big world scares me. It makes me feel lonely. Insignificant. Lost.
TRAVEL THE WORLD!
Or, you know, don’t. Create your own happiness wherever it is, whatever it may be. I guess that’s what I need to do. I need to stop searching for something/someone to tell me where I belong and give me the happiness that I desperately crave. Rather, I need to create the happiness in myself first and bring it with me wherever I may go.