I’ve been going over in my head, trying to think about what exactly pulls people to travel. (And by ‘people’ I kind of mean backpacking young people, not like old couples who take cruises. This post doesn’t apply to them).
And I think because I have spent a considerable amount of time blogging about traveling, I have earned one of those cliché, white girl, travel blog posts about the reasons I am taking this ‘journey of a lifetime’.
And I don’t wanna sound like a cynic. I mean, I am very much a cliché, white girl travel blogger and I have much love for all of my peers in this world. But I’ve never been the type to really take myself too seriously. So, I can’t quite write some philosophic post about why I travel without adding a considerable amount of self-depreciation. Don’t take offense fellow basic bloggers. Or do take offense. If I am a twenty-something, post grad, gap year, teach abroad, Wordpress blogger then I’m a freaking cliché, and so are you. Embrace it.
It’s so easy to think of all the nice reasons to travel.
- I travel to find myself.
- I travel to experience new things.
- I travel to broaden my horizons.
- I travel to push myself.
- I travel to step out of my comfort zone.
Those all sound great and all, but I just couldn’t say that for myself. I mean, I do feel all of those things, but there’s this little voice in the back of my head that really wants to admit that it’s not some happy fantasy world.
So this is why I travel. This the raw, terrified, anxious little girl inside me.
I travel because I am impatient.
This is constant theme of my life. And one that has been tested over and over.
So, why would travel help this? You’d think travelling would be the worst for impatient people, considering timeliness is apparently exclusively a western concept.
But travelling helps my impatience with myself.
Do you ever feel like you’re just working and trying to be this person? To be the absolute best version of yourself?
Oh, you have?
Yeah, that’s everyone.
I had actually spent several years of my life harboring the impression that this goal was merely personal.
Like I said, typical.
There is this ideal that I am trying and trying to reach and I just can’t get there fast enough!
I don’t want any more of this trying and failing. And slowly working my way up. And this slow progress and evolution. I just wanna be there.
So I travel.
Because in my limited time on this planet I feel like travelling has been what has gotten me the farthest fastest. It has made me more mature, more wise. Not saying that I have a huge amount of either of those qualities. I mean…no one at 22 does. But I do have more than I used to.
I mean that’s something, right?
I’m not even saying I have more of those qualities than my peers. In fact, I most definitely do not. This is a purely personal scale here.
And all because I don’t wanna put the effort into actually living my life slowly at home. I want to just throw myself into the lion’s den, so I can come out busted, bruised, and grinning because I guess I’m convinced I learned something.
I travel because I am afraid.
I am shit terrified of the real world. I graduated in May with a bunch of my peers (and many of the people that are on this program with me) and suddenly all these questions start coming your way like “what are you going to do now?”
And then the freaking waxed hand lady from the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is judging you for not having it figured out.
Yeah, it would make any sane person a little anxious.
Especially, because as young people we were always taught to ‘shoot for the stars’ and given participation ribbons even when we failed.
No one ever thought to mention to us that life is fucking difficult. And scary.
Scratch that, terrifying.
So, I’m coming out of four safe years at a University, when I start to realize I am so scared. Mostly of failing.
It would wake me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, like “dear God, what am I supposed to do with my life?”
And looking back now, I’m realizing that this was a pretty universal feeling, but at the time I felt like everyone had a path and it was just me falling down that downwards spiral.
The one where you follow your train of thought too far and suddenly you’re dealing meth on the side of the road and you don’t know how you got there?
I’m really not great at failing.
So my solution? Flee. Run away screaming. Seems like a good plan, right?
I travel because I am sad.
This one’s pretty easy.
From the first time I stepped out of the country when I was 14, it’s been nothing but amazing experiences.
I got to see amazing places. I got to eat amazing food (classic Janet). And I got to meet some of the best people.
When you’re travelling everything is so shiny.
It’s like walking through an F.A.O. Schwartz catalogue.
Everything is fun and exciting and new.
But the only thing is, like most drugs, there’s a bounce back. It means when you return everything is a little less shiny. Everything’s a little less exciting. Everything feels old, boring, and ordinary.
And it’s only gotten worse.
And so I see why people get addicted to travelling.
And finding those feeling in the ‘real world’ has become more and more difficult for me. Until, I feel like I wasn’t even bothering any more.
I would just bide my time, save my money, take my classes, dream my days away on Pinterest until my next big trip. That’s the thing that I can brag about. That’s what’s going to make me a more secure person. That’s what is finally going to make me happy with myself.
Too bad it doesn’t quite work like that.
I travel because I am lonely.
This took a while to admit to myself for sure.
This was the darkest part of my heart. Until I realized…literally everyone feels this way.
Why do they not tell you?!
Why do people pretend everything is great all the time?
I feel like I live in a world where everything is social media. And everything looks amazing. And how am I supposed to know that everyone is fucking struggling when no one will admit it?! Even to themselves, sometimes.
Of course, I’m surrounded by amazing people. But I was starting to realize I have this huge problem with really making connections to the people in my life. I have about 3 really deep relationships.
But when you’re travelling, everyone is just raw and open. It’s like you can meet someone in a bar and the next thing you know you’re talking about how you all had depression when you were in high school and that crush from childhood you still haven’t gotten over who may be in Thailand so maybe you will actually bump into him.
Yeah that deep.
And everyone is so open to meeting new people. You walk into a hostel and everyone kind of looks at you the way new freshman at a college campus look at people. As if everyone is a potential new friend.
And it’s so easy.
And I’m lazy. And impatient. (As previously mentioned) So why don’t I just take the effort out of making human connections and just find other travelers. I mean, we already have something in common.
So yeah. I’m being pretty cynical. But come on…do you really want to read one more blog entry about taking the “big leap into the great unknown”?
Do you want to hear one more romanticized story about the “amazing”, “wacky adventure” I had taking a trip to the super market?
Or do you want to know the real deal? Cause even though I’m in Thailand, it’s still real life.
And yeah. I’ve cried a lot since I’ve gotten here. People who know me wouldn’t say that’s exactly a new behavior. I cried into a bowl of noodles the other day.
And I just want ranch dressing!
And I want who ever is taking my order at a restaurant to know what I’m saying.
And I want a toilet that flushes. And also to have endless supplies of toilet paper constantly around me!
I want my mom and dad to be here to give me advice. I want my best friend. I want this boy I have a huge crush on to just fly to Thailand and comfort me.
So. It’s not all puppies and rainbows. For everyone. News flash: Life is hard work.
But here’s the thing.
Yep. This post is going to end on a good note: This isn’t bad.
It’s only bad if I get hung up on the ‘unhappy’ feelings and start to think I’m the only one who’s feeling this way. It’s the hard work that actually makes me a better person. And admitting to myself that I am impatient, and sad, and scared, and lonely is part of making that shift.
So I’m gonna make a pledge. And to try to remember that my life doesn’t stop when I’m not travelling or having adventures.
So here are the reasons that I live. Just everyday. Not only when I’m travelling. Not only when I’m in Thailand. These are the reasons I am on this planet:
- I live to find myself.
- I live to experience new things.
- I live to broaden my horizons.
- I live to push myself.
- I live to step out of my comfort zone.
And I live to write stupid posts on my cliché travel blog, and to pretend that I know things. When I really know nothing.
I think that was Socrates.