It’s been 18 months since I got back from travelling and I’ve finally caught up on my travel blogs from while I was away – lucky I kept a journal!
I’m writing this blog now because I feel enough time has passed for me to reflect on my travels, and I guess to explain what’s been going on the past 18 months – just thinking about everything I’m going to be writing about makes me stop and realise how much has happened.
In a way, this will be an introduction to my blogs that will follow (I love chronological organisation – can you tell?).
A lot has changed in the past 18 months.
My confident, idealistic, optimistic self that returned home took a bit of a battering when things didn’t go how I had hoped / imagined / envisioned. Eventually I got an internship and moved to London, then I got a ‘real’ job. I explored more of Europe over summer, started dating and quit my job for a working holiday visa in New Zealand for an unspecified amount of time.
But I think some of the biggest changes have been in myself.
When I went away, I wanted “to see some of the world, and figure a few things out”.
Well, this is what I figured out…
I have come to realise that individuals and their lives change as much or as little as they choose after they return from travelling. I appreciate there could easily be uncontrollable external factors that have to be taken into consideration, so this is from the perspective that ‘travel will change you (if you want it to)’.
I think you naturally gravitate towards a particular style of travelling based on what you do and don’t like. But, I’ve noticed that it’s become quite clichéd to go off and ‘find yourself’. You get those sighs, eye rolling and the ‘cringe’ face. It’s become such ‘a thing’ now. Maybe a mainstream thing or simply an excuse for people to get out there and see the world. I feel like it’s kind of lost its meaning and become this slightly awkward ‘thing’.
But not everyone is the same. Specifically, not everyone is self-assured or confident in their own abilities or really knows who they are. I had the time to think about what’s important to me, what my core values are, what I want to achieve in life and ultimately what kind of life I want to carve for myself.
Not everything has fallen into place since I’ve been back. I’ve thought for a while that my ideal job would be working for a charity or NGO. And whilst I had my mind set on this, even having a few interviews around the UK, it hasn’t worked out so far. It’s still an ambition of mine, but I’m not sure if it’s possible right now. I think I need to build my experience up first.
I am however, a different person to the person who left the UK on January 10th 2014. 4.5 months away didn’t drastically change me, I guess I’ve been gradually changing for years. The difference now is that I am consciously and actively making choices and informed decisions so that I can become the person I want to be. It’s a process. It doesn’t happen over night. But this is where I am. I know what I want in life, but I can appreciate that things don’t always go to plan, although this is greatly at odds with my idealistic view. I’m far more relaxed with letting things happen (to an extent). Whilst still focusing on where I’m ultimately trying to get to.
Something else I’ve recently considered… I’m not sure how easy it is to adjust back to life once you get home from travelling, I mean, there are some people that just keep travelling forever – or that’s the plan at least. I write this as a person who absolutely loves reading travel blogs, about the adventures and experiences that other people are having and what it means to them.
Maybe it’s the way they write, or the funny tales that they tell, or the places that they’re going to that hold my interest. Either way, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like for these established travel bloggers to stop travelling. But can you really just go back to a ‘normal’ or routine job? Can you head back to the office after taking say, a year or two out? And then, is this a grey area between a grown up gap year vs being a travel blogger. And does it really matter anyway?
I think an integral part of being happy, is doing something that makes you happy. When we try to cram ourselves into boxes, and follow what everyone else is doing, or what is expected of us, we are bound to become unhappy because we aren’t really living for ourselves. I suppose it sounds a little selfish. Like an individual path instead of a team effort. So, I recently reconsidered this point, with the idea that I think it is possible to get a ‘routine’ job after travelling, if that is what you want. If that is what makes you happy.
I think if you’re okay with yourself, and what you’re doing, then what other people think or say won’t have as much of an effect on you. I mean, when you’re a bit unsure about something, or about yourself, it can be quite easy to get caught up in other people, or get swept along with their ideas, because you don’t have your own ideas or thoughts to ground you, and to hold on to. I think this is why so many people try to ‘do the right thing’, like study hard, study even harder, get an internship, get a job, get a house, get married have children etc. Which is fine, if that’s what YOU want. But is that what you want? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself “is this what I want?”
Well, travelling gave me this opportunity. And now I know what I want. I still have a somewhat idealistic viewpoint but I’m okay with actual reality too. And now I feel like I’m making my own path in life and I’m far happier because I’m doing it for myself and I’m confident that everything will ultimately be okay.