The Wanderlust Myth

Travel. Such a hot topic. It is basically the coconut oil of activities, it can solve all your problems so it seems. I love travelling too. I like beach vacations and ski trips and sightseeing. According to the numerous blogs and instagram posts though travel is supposed to be so much more than just a break from everyday. It should be a “lifestyle” where you jet set around to a new place every day and collect stamps like badges of self-improvement honor. I do agree travel can (sometimes) help us grow. We can learn a new language, culture, gain new perspective etc. It can also just be a break from the ordinary life routine, which is refreshing too. Unfortunately, travel is not coconut oil, it did not make my my hair silkier and it did not mend my heart or give me direction. I flew there messed up and I flew back messed up in the exact same way.

I spent a month in Norway. I helped a close friend move into her dorm, we made friends with other students, and got to know our way around. I even took a few solo trips out of the campus town I was staying at to Sweden and the west coast of Norway just to do things I wanted to do. I got comfortable enough that I even started to feel like I had made a new life there. Then I abruptly left, the same girl that arrived. Oh yes, I supposed little things in me changed, like I sort of conquered my fear of travelling alone, hiked mountains, and I had enlightening conversations and made new friends. Hurray for me. However, as I was sitting in that plane hurtling through the air back to the place I was born and raised, I reflected on my mental state and found it to be not any different than before. I had absolutely believed that climbing to the top of Preikestolen, by myself, would yield some change in me. I climbed the damn thing 3 times and each time I sat up there cross legged on a rock and I waited for something inside me to change. I waited, over looking a very pretty view of the fjords and mountains, for my fears and loneliness and lack of direction to just transform into confidence and certainty. That did not happen. I waited for the ability to forgive those who have hurt me. That did not come. I waited to realize who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. I ate a chocolate bar. Literally the only thing that happened at the top of that mountain was I ate a lot of chocolate. Norway has good chocolate. That’s my wanderlust story. What an epic tale.

Travelling gives you some wonderful experiences that you may remember for a long time but, it does not give you closure, or forgiveness, or wisdom. It does not matter what the outside world looks like or where you are, those things have to happen inside of you. Before, I had believed that moving someplace exotic and starting a new life would be the coconut oil on my life. What I realized was that no matter where I went I would still always be me, with all the same feelings and fears, unless I worked on those directly. Life changes and new experiences can change us and help us grow, but life is happening everywhere and right now. It isn’t happening in 1 year from now in a town in New Zealand. Becoming the person I want to be, and finding the life I want to live could happen right now, in my city, in my apartment, in my mind. There is no short cut or miracle cream for it either, I have to put in the work. Travelling did not change me – I must change me. It does not matter what the view looks like or the history of the city, the place where you are right now, is the right place to figure out your life.

 

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