It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Okay, totally joking. Kind of. Well, bare with me here….
I never thought it would happen to me. I thought I was completely immune to this terrible disease. But, alas, it happened. Under strange circumstances, it happened.
I caught the travelling bug.
Before now, I always considered myself as a home bird. Yes, I’ve lived in London away from my parents since I was 16, but London was as far from the nest that I’d go. My final choice of uni came down to location, being 5 hours away up North was just too far away! And I’m definitely not the slumming it, backpacking kind of girl (I like to think of myself as more of the princess variety…lols.) For the last few years my fb newsfeed has been filled with lush holiday snaps of friends who have gone travelling around Asia and South America, and yes sometimes I’d think ‘uuuurgh I wish I was by a sunny beach for a week’ (cause, I’m only human) but never for a second did I think ‘I wish I was backpacking’.
And then, on one fateful day it allllll changed. We received a wedding invitation from my cousin. My cousin who lives in Zimbabwe and was planning a wedding in Mozambique that is. I was thrilled, desperate to go – the last time I saw my cousins I was a chubby little 10 year old who was obsessed with the Spice girls. I mean, I still am obsessed with the Spice Girls but I’m talking diehard fan here – like, I cried when my cousin told me that Mel C was fat now she’d quit being a Spice Girl – anyway, I digress. A trip to Africa? Yes please!! Before then my longest holiday ever had been 10 days; I even cut a family holiday to the Caribbean short by a week so I could get back in time for college (which looking back on it now was totally idiotic, but it’s all relative at the time isn’t it).
Receiving that invitation changed my life. As dramatic as it sounds, it completely altered my outlook on absolutely everything. My mother and I packed our suitcases (mine considerably larger than hers) and made our way to deepest Africa (lol not really, but it was still Africa).
Here are a few things I got up to:
For the first time (in for)ever [there’ll be music, there’ll be liiiiight – sorry, got carried away with Frozen], I was exposed to a completely different way of life. I met great new people and saw fantastic things I could only have ever dreamed of before. Suddenly, I realised that there is an ENTIRE world out there that exists outside of London. Don’t get me wrong, I love London, but it was starting to drain me. And exploring new things, I just felt… happy! Before leaving, I suffered from quite bad anxiety, stuck in a ‘What am I doing/ where is my life going/ why am I London again?’ cycle. My anxiety dissipated almost immediately on arrival and I just felt peaceful and happy. It’s like I finally realised that the crap that I was worrying about? Totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Before going, my personality was a Monica, and I came back more of a Rachel.
When it was time to go home, I made the completely spontaneous decision to extend my trip for another month; I wasn’t ready to go! And that was so unlike me! Normally I have scheduled every single hour of my day into my beloved diary but something inside of me thought, ‘go home, back to slaving away in a restaurant? Nah, think I’ll pass.’
I know it’s completely wanky to say ‘travelling changed me’ – but it really did!
But travelling also ruined me. On my return, I was miserable. Everything was exactly the same, but my outlook was different. I had itchy feet and was already looking at when I could book my next trip. I made a plan, to do a bit of living outside of London. I spent a month over Christmas back in Africa and right now I’m working my butt off to save up to do some more eye-opening, life changing travels.
I left a piece of my heart on the other side of the world – which is simultaneously the best and worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. I made so many lifelong friends and feel like I have a second home to go back to, but it also feels like there’s always a piece of me missing. I constantly have that gnawing feeling inside my stomach that I should be somewhere else.
If you are completely happy with where you are and what you are doing in life, then that’s amazing, why would you leave that? But if you aren’t, I urge you to travel. See the world. Stop worrying about your career, the growing up bit of life can come later. Go now, while you have no ties, no obligations – embrace your quarter-life crisis and just run. Get a taste for adventure, I promise you wont regret it.
This is how I’m currently living my life:
Backpacking still isn’t for me. And I still don’t have the urge to flit around Asia for a year. I want to go somewhere and really experience the life there. If two years ago you’d have told me I would be leaving my London life for no apparent reason to go to Cape Town for 6 months, with no solid plan – I’d have laughed you out the room. But everything happens for a reason, so I wonder what this reason will be.
And I’m scared. Terrified, actually! But if you don’t do things that scare you, then you aren’t really living are you?