Why do we travel?
Thoughts from an adventurer
I recently came back from travelling my way up through Europe. I spent 6 weeks “on the road”, and I got to spend some quality time with some of my closest friends who I haven’t been able to see much for the past couple of years.
During my trip, I discovered that more than anything else, I’m an adventurer. This happened somewhere on the coach between Paris and London. I think it was near Calais.
For my whole life I’ve felt different. Like, the way most other people chose to live their lives wasn’t really for me. The notion of settling down, of having a “normal” everyday life where you have a routine, has never appealed to me. It just doesn’t make sense. Why settle down in just one place, when the world is so big and exciting, and when we have so many opportunities to go and explore the world, and the things we’re interested in? The whole “Go to school, get a job, buy a house, get married and have kids” ambition feels wrong. It feels suffocating. I thought I was different for feeling that way, but I’ve now realized that I’m not.
I’ve come to a point in my life where I understand. I understand and appreciate why people do that. Settle down. And in a way, I get it. I too want things to be comfortable and steady, and secure. I want to have a community around me, and I like to have my routines.
I see myself a bit like Bilbo from The Hobbit. He’s unwilling to leave his home, because it seems scary and unsafe, and because he has everything he needs. His basic needs are met, and he is able to live that way for his entire life. But then the chance to go on an adventure presents itself, and even though he’s reluctant at first, he accepts the adventurous sides of himself, and by applying his curiosity and common sense, Bilbo becomes a wiser and more competent person. He learns that he is brave, and capable of many things.
I’m at a crossroads in my life. I’m trying to figure out what should be the next step in my story. Nothing holds me back, and literally all doors are open. I’ve been fortunate to be born in a part of the world, where the social and financial background I have, gives me the opportunity to do pretty much whatever I want to do with my life. I’m not saying I’m rich, but compared to the majority of the world, pretty much every door is open to me. And as much as I appreciate this, it can also be scary. I tend to apply pressure on myself for that very reason. The choice is too overwhelming, and I feel a great sense of obligation. Towards my family, towards my friends and towards people who don’t have the same opportunities. But most of all I feel this sense of obligation towards myself. Realizing that this sense of obligation is really my choice, and that no one else is putting pressure on me, I felt that it was a good time for me to go and explore the world around me, and hopefully discover things about myself that I didn’t already know. Kind of like what Bilbo does in The Hobbit.
A week before I went travelling, I started doing a challenge, the #100happydays challenge, where I upload a photo of something that made me happy that day for 100 days in a row to Instagram. Despite missing a few days here and there, this has enabled me to look at things from another angle. It’s made me prioritize differently. The thing is, I feel passionate and happy about many things, but in order to really excel at doing them, I have to focus on one thing at a time. I’m just finding it hard to decide what to focus on first. So I went travelling.
My journey took me from Denmark to Mallorca where I stayed with my friend Hayley and her dad Bernard for a week. I then went to Barcelona for a couple of days by myself. I then continued on to Marseille where I met up with my friend Susie and we went to Avignon and then Paris, where I stayed for 3 weeks. After Paris I went to London where I used to live, and I stayed there with friends for a week.
I’m now back in Denmark, still trying to digest all of my experiences. I honestly don’t know why I traveled. Or why I want to travel again. I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to do next. My future is still uncertain. But I feel like this journey I went on, even though it wasn’t all that exotic or crazy, was necessary, and it’s given me a lot of insight into who I am. It’s given me clarity. And it’s made me realize that ultimately we’re all connected, we’re all struggling with the same things and we all just want happiness. My kind of happiness is just different than other people’s happiness. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, or bad, or silly. We all have something special that makes us happy.
I’m an adventurer. And maybe my “burden” in life is to never know for certain what the future brings. I need to experience new things, to learn and discover and challenge myself. It’s part of who I am, and no matter what I do, it won’t change that. And I finally accept this. Because in the end, what I realized during this journey was that I’ll be fine. I’ve got the best resources available to me, such as a decent university degree and skills in many different fields. But more importantly, I have amazing friends and family, who’ve got my back. I have many talents and passions, and I’m a curious human being to my core. I’m young, I’m smart and I’m healthy. And like Bilbo, even though the adventure seems scary and uncertain to begin with, I get to know myself a little better for every step I take along the way. And by getting to know myself, I become stronger, wiser and ultimately, happier.
Life is too short to not do what makes you happy. You might as well. What’s the worst that can happen?