Bloggers tend to paint a picture of constant euphoria, of happiness, of adventure, of the grandest lifestyle that everyone is missing out on. It can be all of those things.
But it isn’t always rainbows, butterflies, and happiness. Actually, rarely is it an “ideal” lifestyle.
It is a lonely road at times, a hard road at times, a sad road at times, and a road to emotions you tried to hide deep down inside.
Travel can be one helluva potent drug, and if used as a supplement for things you aren’t facing in your life, can have very severe and sometimes deadly side-effects.
One thing traveling for the first time to New Zealand taught me was the same thing running away from my hometown after the death of my father taught me. You will be haunted no matter what from these things until you look them straight in the eyes and face them.
And after I returned, my own crash was so severe that I nearly ended my own life in a way, which I am currently forming into a short story when my emotions permit.
But after that crash, and after a serious self-review of my emotional state, my trip to New Zealand revealed to me that I was still hiding from myself, and exposed my issues with self-worthiness like an open wound. A wound I finally realized I needed to heal. Not by ignoring or escaping, but by doing things for myself.
Many people, including myself at one point, think travel can be the end-all-be-all-cure-all for what ails your heart, mind, or life as a whole. From personal experience I tell you it can’t.
What travel can do is give you the solitude needed to see inside yourself, and to begin to realize what you need to do for happiness. It can help you escape the bondage created by our normal lives so you can formulate a lifestyle you want to live.
It made me realize that happiness isn’t in the traveling, but what the traveling provides me: Challenges, knowledge, exposure, hardship, cunning, and all other skills you begin to utilize on an adventure. It presents me with the nakedness needed to realize that I was still trying to live up to some other standard, to show people “I made it!”
I have personally struggled with the feeling of inadequacy, the feeling of failure, of desperate moments, of despair, the feeling I had to prove myself to the world and to other people. And ultimately I have even contemplated suicide before. That ultimate and permanent “cure” lies in wait until you are at your weakest point.
And this is exactly the reason why I speak out so much these days about my own parents deaths, about my shattered childhood, and also about the darkness that followed me. That still follows me. I have battled with alcoholism for years, not believing such a creature existed in me like it did in my father.
And I can’t hide from this anymore, because it tears at my soul.
After leaving for a year in New Zealand it showed me that even though I wasn’t running away like before when I moved across the United States, I was still just avoiding the life I didn’t want. I still wasn’t fixing myself, or making myself better, or making myself feel worthy. And that makes the crash from a high even more catastrophic.
New Zealand and traveling did help me realize the most paramount thing: I needed to work on me.
For the first time in my life, through writing and surprisingly in person with other people, I am revealing what pains me deep inside, how I am afraid to cry, afraid to feel, afraid to connect, how desperately I want to succeed because others said I won’t. Problem is, proving yourself to other people is a battle that cannot be won.
I write so much about my turmoil(s) in life because for the first time I am facing it. I hid away emotions, truths, and weaknesses for so long that it came back to haunt me after returning from New Zealand.
Revealing what haunts me brings it out like a raw wound, and then I can see the damage and try to fix myself. I can try to begin to live this dream for myself and not just to show up others.
I think it is EXTREMELY important that if you are going to take on the endeavor of a life of a traveler, you must take it on as just that, an endeavor. Traveling indefinitely is a life choice to do what makes yourself happy, not to become happy by avoiding what is inside yourself. Life is a mean mother fucker, a wicked and cruel gauntlet at times, and just booking a ticket WILL NOT FIX IT.
You must do it for yourself and nobody else, and you must be honest and open with yourself, and then you will be to others. And then it won’t be just a sugarcoat.
You must also know that the initial surge of happiness from the freedom you experience, as well as the intense relationships you develop on the road, will eventually have it’s bad moments. And when the fall happens, you need to reach out to those you love the most. You have to be self-aware, and you have to not hide it.
Even when culture shock smacked me across the face when I arrogantly thought I was immune, the loneliness I felt made me hole myself up for more than a week.
It pains me to read about Anita Mac, a fellow travel blogger and dreamer, taking her life. I know how much it hurt me when my mother committed suicide, and I wish her family the strongest of hearts.
Travel can have dire consequences with anyone. To escape means to typically run away, and to run away means to not face something. And to not face something lets said something grow into an enormous and fierce beast that will come back to ravage your life.
As I write this, I don’t know the full story of Anita and I will never make assumptions about another persons life. But I wish I could have met her, because everybody who mentions her all have beautiful things to say. And I wish someone…anyone…could have discovered her inner turmoil before she fell to the darkness and helped her through it.
I just know the dark moments I’ve been through myself, and how I’ve come to realize that a life on the road needs to be taken seriously. It can be a phenomenal transformation, or an amplifier for hidden emotions. Keep honest with yourself, and tell people when travel isn’t going so rosy.
With Anita’s death, paired with my “travel drug” overdose, I felt this message had to be shared. I’ve realized I must travel to live for myself. I travel to find my own self worth and happiness. I see travel now as the journey, not the destination, and surely not to escape anymore, but to face the world head on. And to face myself.
Feel free to share your own stories of emotional struggles on the road, and how you overcame them. The travel community is a great one, and we should all support each other.