Are travellers running away? What are we running towards, what are we running away from?
Not sure why, but there’s a perception that anyone who travels on long trails, travels to escape “real life” and responsibilities. There is a perception that anyone who travels for more than one or two weeks, travels because he or she is not prepared to “settle down”, to find a “real” job, pay bills and plan a family.
Once I got a comment on my blog from a girl who wrote me that it’s OK if I don’t “travel all the time”, because sometimes, I need to live a life.
I wrote her back that I travel because I like to run.
Left in Colombia
Traveling is running towards a better version of me. I run, not to make my fears and insecurities disappear, but to face them. Let me explain. If we’re always in the safe vicinity of our family and friends, how will we ever find out how to be on our own? Why is it so important to spend time on your own?
We are born and die alone. At night when we close our eyes, we are alone. Other people cannot make us happy if we haven’t found happiness within ourselves first. Love. We cannot love other people if we haven’t figured out what is meaning of love for us. That’s why I travel far and wide. Demanding destinations guarantee personal growth. When my Colombian friend left me in the middle of Cali, the world capital of salsa and in of the most violent cities in Colombia, I wasn’t indifferent. Colombia was for more safer from his car and guidance.
– You have to overcome fear. You travel to meet the world and to document it – he said and literally threw me out of his car with handwritten instructions on how to get back to him.
There I was, in the middle of a park in the middle of Colombia, wearing my touristy “Cambodia” shirt and Ray-Ban glasses. The only thing missing was a sticker “Tourist” on my forehead. I had two options; stand there frightened as a little girl (which was exactly how I felt), or do something about it.
I decided to buy ice-cream. The park was full of kids, police officers and dodgy looking men. Their eyes were watching. I did not belong. When I saw two men who looked like the worst criminals out of the TV show “Criminal minds”, I went straight to them and sat down on a stone wall next to them. Was I “loca” (crazy) at that moment? Probably. Was I afraid? Very much so. I had to show them I don’t fear them otherwise I wouldn’t overcome the fear burning inside.
You see, it was never about them. Overcoming fear never happened in that park, but inside my head. I had to put myself out there to discover that I am well able to calm myself down and react in unknown situations. I was once again free and encouraged to continue solo traveling across Colombia. This experience helped me in later life situations, for example, when I was stuck at Brussels airport after deadly blast in 2016.
Travel to escape the idea of “normal” life
I travel to escape other people’s ideas on how to live my life. Life is much more than what we were told when growing up and in schools. When someone’s imposing something on you, not only they’re overstepping your boundaries, but they’re trying to influence your decisions. They can only do so with your approval. Those who impose their beliefs on how to find a good job (what is your definition of a good job?) or a good partner (what qualities are you looking for in a partner and do you have them yourself?), are usually those who remain stuck in routine, buried deep in their comfort zone. Forgive them and love them anyway; from the distance if you must.
I travel to run from the idea of “normal” life. Why do we equate majority as normal? As individuals we’re more complex than that. What is normal for me? What I say it is!
My decision to spend half a year traveling around Asia after graduating from college wasn’t “normal” for many people. It was for me! I took a trip of a lifetime. I became a seeker of everyday magic and turned into a woman who welcomes personal growth. That’s why I’m traveling. To meet myself. To make decisions on my own. To risk. To be able to say – I did it my way!
Is the hustle and bustle of experiencing potentially uncomfortable situations worth it? It is exhausting and possibly painful, but rewarding. When you are challenging yourself, you are asking yourself to become more than you were. All growth depends upon activity. Activity forces you to change and adapt. I learned more about life from people at bus stations around the world than from television. Everyone is a teacher when traveling.
Travel to have a different and exciting life shaped by beautiful coincidences. Challenge your mind. Think beyond the usual. Choose a different path, maybe a different holiday destination this summer? Surprise your senses. Be a child again. Admire the little things again. It means to live in the moment. Run. Run. Run far and wide if you must. What you will find it will be beautiful. What you will find will be your most exciting adventure. It will be you.