There is this article called “The hardest part of traveling that no one talks about” that came out almost two years ago now and was a huge hit amongst a lot of travellers. Everyone could relate to this feeling of being completely lost in their home town after spending some time abroad. So much has changed within in you, but seemingly nothing has changed around you.
When I read the article the first time, I hated it. For a reason that wasn’t yet clear to me. There was just something about it that was… wrong. I just knew there was something, that wasn’t mentioned in these words. I just wasn’t sure what exactly it was. Now, two years later and after a long time of thinking about it, I’ve finally decided to write about it and go a little more in-depth.
The hardest part of traveling is not realizing that within days or weeks we are not “the hottest thing” amongst our friends and family anymore. That is just us being selfish. Traveling gives us so much more than unnecessary bragging rights and a Facebook page filled with postcard pictures. One of the many things traveling leaves us with, is with change or more like personal progress. Change can be inevitable, like the weather is going to change. But in order to make progress, we actually need to do something. It won’t happen without any action. So, what I’m talking about is the progress we make on personal level. That is what we are struggling with. Sure, our appearance will probably change as well, from a tan, to a different hair cut and to a tattoo, that at the time sounded like a good idea, but now it’s just kind of stupid.
In a way I see traveling as a tool, we can use in order to improve and shape our lives in various ways. Every impression, everything we feel, see, hear, smell and taste is a unique experience we make for ourselves and the more time we spend visiting different countries, getting to know diverse cultures and meeting new people, the more personal progress we make. That is pretty obvious and every traveller knows how that feels like. Now, when our travels come full circle and we’re heading back to our home towns, we will put down this “Traveling” tool and what it leaves us with, is with the above mentioned change or personal progress and also with a choice. We are not the same person anymore, we are different and our friends may not understand those changes. What the author pinpointed as the hardest part of traveling, is just one of the results of traveling. The actual hard part is what we’re going to do, now that we have progressed so much. How are we going to choose? What is our decision?
What will we do? We can’t blame or point our fingers at traveling itself for our progress, because we made this deliberate decision of spending time abroad a while ago and now we have to make a new decision about what follows. We have to take responsibility for ourselves and our changes. No one else can do that, because everything we experience happens inside of us and if so, then only we can know the answer. And that’s what I think is the problem with a lot of travellers. They can’t or don’t want to take responsibility, instead they want other people to acknowledge and understand their progress. And then they get frustrated and feel lonely when they realize that no one else can do it for them. It’s just not possible. No matter how much our parents and friends love us and no matter how hard they try, if we don’t accept everything our travels leaves us with, we will always feel what the author stated as the hardest part. With no conclusion, no solutions, no wisdom, no peace and no direction. Just with a lot of confusion and frustration.
We can’t or shouldn’t run away as it states at the end of the article. If we do that, we will never find the answer and we will never find our happiness, because running away from our changes only makes things worse. We may feel better traveling through different countries, but it only works temporarily. Palms and beaches are beautiful and make us feel like, that there is no way problems can exist in a blissful place like this, but they do. And we can’t solve these problems, if we constantly distract and tell ourselves, that running away is the only option. It’s like what Jeff Daniels’ character in the TV show “Newsroom” famously said:
“The first step into solving a problem is recognizing there is one.”
Reflection is the key, because when we really take our time and think about why we feel that way, why we feel like we have to “run away” and why we feel so… “different”, then slowly we are getting closer to the answers, we were so desperately seeking. It’s not going to happen overnight, it will take a long time and it requires a lot of patience, but eventually we will get there. During this process we will learn so much about ourselves and simultaneously our lives will change for the better.
And this is exactly what I feel like is missing in Miss Donnellys article. It doesn’t give us any insight or real answers. It lacks wisdom, experience and thoroughness. It answers the question “What” we feel quite well, but it fails to focus on the more important “Why” we feel that way. Instead it uses escapism as the answer, even though it takes us further away from the real one.
What it all comes down to it, is that we simply don’t have to give a fuck what other people think about us and our choices. There is a reason why it’s called “personal” progress.
The things we do with our lives is only our business and no one elses. If only we as individuals value and acknowledge our changes and our progress throughout our travels or our whole lives for that matter, then that’s everything we need. Nothing more. We don’t have to show or prove to other people how amazing our lives are. There is no need for bragging. Otherwise we will always rely too heavily on the confirmations, compliments and other nice words from our friends, family members and former colleagues. And when those nice words start getting less and less frequent, which they inevitably will, we will experience what Miss Donnelly phrased so well.
So, don’t run away, make your own decisions and take full responsibility for everything that happens in your life. Then at some point you will find your way and your answers. It’s going to take time and it won’t be easy, but then again, life would be pretty boring without some struggles and few challenges along the way, right?