Why I Chose to Travel
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
Humans thrive on curiosity. Without it, we’d all still be sat in caves rubbing two sticks together. We experiment in order to move forward. We design, we devise, we create. Our innovation derives from this innate desire to build and pursue ideas that at one point, seemed intangible. The hunger for discovery is a fundamental attribute to our species - it’s how we advance and it’s how we continue to develop in our growing world.
Though with all our complexities, the ability to recognise our multitude of imperfections has transformed us into a nation of pessimists; suffocating under the weight of the media and pressuring social views. We seem to have lost our way under an abundance of technological and social distraction, struggling with the anxieties that surround our modern world. The distractions that we create for ourselves are not solving the problem, just convincing us momentarily that we are ok, all whilst waiting for the next issue to arise.
I am incredibly guilty of falling onto this downward spiral, and I recognised that all my anxieties stemmed from my surrounding environment back home. I struggled a lot over the last four years. I’m not going to divulge into the ins and outs of my exasperating bubble of depression during this time, but what I do want to share with you, is how this massively negative part of my life has contributed to what is now a massively positive part of my life. And that it is all thanks to a little mind magic and stepping onto that plane to go and travel back in May 2017.
I had always had this unforgiving, heavy feeling in my chest when I thought of embarking on an adventure half way across the world. It felt like a calling - something mysterious, unexplained and almost supernatural. A yearning for something more. I had felt confined for so long within my walls and I really, plain and simply, just wasn’t happy.
Two years ago I had graduated from Birmingham City University and I was working for a fantastic fashion company, in a management role where I had a world of opportunity - alongside living in an exciting city on a handsome pay cheque. The novelties however, faded quickly as I realised that I was still living in the same unhealthy head space as I had before - it just appeared a lot more glamorous. But as the saying goes; a golden cage is still a cage. And I felt hideously trapped.
After almost a year of trying to piece together my life, I eventually plucked up the courage to do something about it, and so in summer 2016 I quit my job and moved back home to my countryside town to give myself a break from the chaos - time to reflect, time to heal and time to 'face my demons'. It wasn’t what I expected; a whole world of change was about to smack me around the head like a baseball bat. But more good came of it than bad - it was the nudge I very much needed in order to make this next life changing decision.
I spent the next 9 months planning my travels and filling the voids with artistic endeavors; beginning side businesses left right and centre - drawing, designing, writing, and then paying the bills with further hospitality work. I worked so hard. Then in May 2017 I finally set off to The Philippines with my best friend to begin the much anticipated adventure.
I didn’t choose to travel because I wanted to runaway though, because I understand that is how it may come across. I chose to travel because as a person that thrives on the curiosity of experience, I had to risk it all to seek out this innate, powerful and unyielding calling. I didn’t choose to travel to find myself either - I already had myself, I just wanted to build upon what I had. I didn't travel to find love (though my mum is terrified I am going to marry an Australian and never come home).
No, I chose to travel because I do not want to be one of those people who gave up on something I had so much passion for. I do not want to be a pessimist, because I am an opportunist and I want to ‘grasp life by the horns’. I do not want to live for the weekend or build my life up around social expectations. I don’t know that much at this stage, because I am forever learning, but what I do know - what I am certain of - is that I want to keep defying those same expectations. And it fills me with joy to see other people, of all ages and nationalities do the same.
“I give you three months, then you’ll be home”, “I’m not saying goodbye because I’ll see you in a couple of weeks”, “How are you going to survive out there when you can barely survive here?”, “You’ll miss us all too much, you’ll be back, everyone always comes back”.
I rolled my eyes to every encounter that began like that, but deep down all it did was make me feel more determined to stick it out, and prove the doubters wrong. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, my capabilities - or at least, I thought I did before I left. I’ve learnt a lot more about myself now and it turns out I need to cut myself a bit of slack, because I am far more capable a human than I originally considered. Speaking to other travelers, it turns out that this feeling of empowerment is one that is shared greatly among us.
“I’m the King of the World!” - Jack Dawson (The Titanic)
So my reasoning for leaving little old Leek, was far more based on what I didn't want to be, than what I did want to be. I still have no freaking idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I’m quite content with this current version of myself. I can’t deny how much my confidence has grown, or how independent and surprisingly fearless I have become. Everyday I shock myself with my new interests and actions - the things I am willing to experience and become a part of compared to before.
It seems crazy to be able to sit here, on my laptop in a hostel full of others that perhaps feel the same, and say I genuinely feel like I am winning at life. Not in the idyllic or materialistic sense; I am not particularly successful, I’m not always happy, and I am broke as hell because I blitzed all my life savings on getting to this point. I am not kidding when I say I have about $500 to my name. Does this stress me out? of course it does, but I trust myself. I trust that I will be ok and I will figure it out. Do I regret any of it? absolutely not. Sometimes sacrifices are necessary to find bliss, and that is what I have found out here. And that is why I feel like I am winning.
I removed myself from a situation where I was no longer reaping the benefits (quitting my job), I placed myself back into an environment of great discomfort so that I could heal myself (moving back home) and then I stepped out into the unknown in order to discover what else this world had to offer me (travelling). My life is finally in my hands.
I am as happy as Pharrell Williams was back in 2013
If this doesn’t make you edge a little bit closer to your Google search bar in order to find flights then perhaps this will; when I lived in England, I had raised levels of anxiety that would affect me sometimes on a daily basis. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shift the shade. No matter how colourful my life felt at times, there was always grey, in some form or another, looming over my shoulders. But since I left the UK six months ago, I have cried twice, had two anxiety attacks and felt homesick for about five days in total. And they were all for good reasons. Isn’t that kind of astonishing? I have been away for 156 days and for 146 of them, I have felt OVER.THE.MOON. on Cloud 9, tickled pink, in the stars, jubilantly, euphorically, beguilingly and deliriously HAPPY AS LARRY.
Why do I feel so good? Perhaps it's finally being my own person; relying on nobody, answering to nobody, not having to be in contact with everybody all the time - I choose what I want to do and when. I book things that I want to book and I organise trips that I want to organise. If somebody wants to come with me, then great, but I am now at a stage where I am satisfied with being completely alone, and in most cases I prefer it. I have done so many things I never thought I would do. I've grown metaphorical cahonie's the size of footballs since I got out here - and I am terrified of one day going home and losing it all.
There are a million and one reasons to pack up your bags and go travelling (that'll be another post for another day), but if you are feeling at all emotionally lost in your own neighborhood, then there is no better way to counteract that than by getting physically lost out in the wilderness…
A Moment to Remember
Just last week, one of my friends in Sydney told me that a phrase that I had said during our trip around the Whitsundays a couple of months ago inspired her to look at the world a little differently, and that she would never forget it 'til the day she died.
We were stood on the back of the boat in the middle of the Whitsundays in the pitch black, wrapped up in jumpers and away from the rest of the party that was going on on deck, leaning over the railings and gazing up at the night sky. It was a complete abyss of stars - stars in their unmeasurable thousands; untraceable and phenomenal. I had only seen a sky like this once before in my life (in Malapascua) and I turned to this girl - whom had been a stranger but a few hours previous - and said “This, right here, is the closest thing we humans have to magic.” And she claims that that moment changed something in her mind, about how she wanted to perceive this life.
It may sound a little Hollywood, but I said it with such conviction that we both stood there in silence, still looking up but nodding in agreement, with tears in our eyes. Yes ok, we’d had a few wines, but the point is, is that in that moment that I had shared with someone I barely knew, I had felt an overwhelming bond to her, to my surroundings, to the universe. It really was nothing less than magic. I feel so blessed that she remembered our moment and claimed it so valuable.
Would I have felt that sat in my bedroom in Staffordshire watching Netflix? Would I have felt that waddling to another long shift at a job I hated? Would I have felt that, Sunday morning when I was heading to Spoons for a classic hangover breakfast after a standard night out on the town? Probably not. This was my previous life, which was lovely for a little while, but incomparable to how I am trying to live now.
Grab your passports friends; the world is waiting.