Welcome to my UNTITLED series, where I get overly personal, melodramatic, and attempt to rage my way into self growth.
I want to address something I don’t think I fully fleshed out in my previous post. As I’ve mentioned, if I’m just a big ball o’ restless energy desiring adventure and to smash myself into a new person — why don’t I just travel for like a year or something?
Ignoring how privileged that is for a moment —
Traveling — the escape, the exposure to new things, the adventure, the opportunity to meet new people and experience new cultures — is something I’ve craved since I can remember. It’s not just something I want to do; I think adventure might be a core part of my makeup (which is funny, considering I’m so often paralyzed from even making an impromptu trip to the grocery store).
Yet I’ve always held myself back from doing something really big — like the one-way ticket to anywhere I mentioned, or signing up for AmeriCorps, or whatever. Some of this is my weird paralysis, some situational, some is trauma-related.
But now, in this moment, I tell myself I have a horde of four-legged children. I have a partner who’s attached enough to his job that he can’t/won’t drop it just because. We have familial obligations and financial concerns and things that might fall apart and —
The reality is, all of that is fear talking. All of this could be figured out, if the adventure was worth the sacrifice of stability and actually making money and whatever else.
But then, I feel like I’ve gotten past the stage of socially accepted fuck-off-and-travel age though. Like I’ve somehow wasted my early 20s being responsible and restless and going in circles. That’s a lie too; it’s never too late to travel and do whatever you want. And it is a heck of lot easier now than it’d be after owning our own house or something that would fundamentally tie us to one place. Even if it’s the wrong move, I can figure it out, and then I’d know.
I just got back from Costa Rica, and had an absolutely incredible time. We’ll be paying off the credit card for a while, but it was worth it. That country is filled with such an intensity of wildlife and color; I even enjoyed the temperature and humidity (and I am not a heat person). Being there… was a little like feeding my soul.
It struck me, that as I looked up at the stars in Costa Rica one night, the same stars I look at in the Pacific NW, how content I felt. Was it just because I was on vacation? Was it because I had the ability to stop and breathe? Was it because I’d been exploring national forests and bio-luminescent lagoons and another culture?
I still dealt with my black-hole brain and other issues while I was there, and I definitely needed recovery when I got back. But it felt like some part of me was being ‘fed.’ Like I was breathing into a space in myself I didn’t normally get to breathe into. As if a frantic space in my head finally relaxed.
Which kind of makes it sound like the answer is to my issues is travel, doesn’t it?
I’m not independently wealthy, so it’s not like it’s feasible to travel all the time, though there alternate ways of traveling. I could do what 1Bike1World does and just cycle through the continent with a cat. I could make it work, somehow, I do think that.
But I want to interrogate this idea a little more.
My desire to fling myself off a cliff is because of gnawing restlessness; adventuring and traveling seems to suit that need. But I don’t think it solves the actual problem.
I think the contentment I felt looking at the stars in Costa Rica was because I was doing something interesting. I was learning. Experiencing. Enjoying. Something I’m missing desperately in all of my life-crap. And because I feel deprived of it, it’s that much more impactful.
I think the learning and experiencing was the core of it, not wanderlust itself.
I think a big part of this acute restlessness is just my ill-content with myself and what I’m doing. Traveling may help ease the symptoms, but will it solve the actual issue? I want to try to get the core of it, not just run away.
Furthermore. There’s that saying about traveling — the one about how you leave home to find it. And I think I recognized looking at the stars in Costa Rica that I haven’t found it. I’ve found people who are home and things I like; but I want to belong to a place. I don’t think I’ve ever made a place my home before. I want… I don’t know, roots, I suppose. I want to belong somewhere and have somewhere belong to me.
I’ve always felt pulled in two directions. Half of me wants to throw off all bonds of constraint and wander and explore till I fall off the earth. But the other half of me wants this belonging.
All that being said. Now I’m going to sound like I’m reversing my position here and say that I think travel is going to be instrumental for me figuring myself out. But I don’t think it’s the answer. I need to be more intentional about it. It seems silly, but I think my head got stuck in a paralysis loop of “well if I can’t do The Big Adventure then I’m just stuck and whatever.” I got into the all-or-nothing head-space. And that’s not how it goes.
Even though part of me hates the idea that adventure has to be planned, that I have to organize around responsibilities, so really I’m walking through life dependent on other people’s whims instead of my own.
(Yeesh, all of this sounds so self-centered. I’m just getting melodramatic, as I warned you all, trying to deep dive into my f e e l i n g s.)
So travel can be a tool. Especially as it helps break through my paralysis problems. But the answer, I think, is to figure out how to craft myself and my life around things that will be fulfilling long term. Which I suppose that’s a duh, we’re all looking for fulfillment. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to that understanding. Or maybe I knew it and just had to talk myself there.
And hey, traveling fits into my Learning Idea/Ideal I talked about in my last post. (Though, traveling via airplane or car isn’t exactly environmentally sound, which I’ve been thinking about lately.)
All right, if you’ve made it through this rambling mess a post, I congratulate you! This one kinda of stumbled around, and I’m not entirely sure I made a coherent point.
Now I’m gearing up to actually do something with all this rambling about myself. Not that I think the rambling will stop, since I overthink everything. But I’m going to try to turn the overthinking into … you know, actually doing something.
Anyway, whatever. Have some Costa Rica pictures, because it’s beautiful and wonderful there.
(You can see the full story on my Instagram if you’re interested.)
At the Manuel Antonio National Park
Some other highlights.