“OMG that’s so awesome that you’re moving to Australia! That’s so exciting!”
“How do you do it? I bet it’s so much fun!”
“Isn’t it cool going to all those amazing places?”
Yes. To all the things.
I am very privileged and live an amazing life. I honestly don’t now what I did to deserve this lottery life, but apparently it worked, because here I am.
That’s not the point of this though. The point of this is to shed light on the not-so-nice side of travel and moving.
The doubt, the uncertainty, the stress of having to make your life small enough to move across oceans.
If you’ve lived abroad for any amount of time, especially in your twenties, then you know when you hit that “wall”..I don’t even know if wall is the best way to describe it. Maybe it is more like waking up and then falling off of a cliff. Everything changes, you go to bed loving every minute of this new experience and then wake up in the middle of the night crying because you’ve wasted your youth ‘playing around”. Basically you go a little insane.
This cliff dive manifested itself to me in the form of anxiety about “wasting” my life. After about 6 months of Au Pairing, I started seeing FB feeds of my friends graduating college, starting their big girl jobs, getting married and just living their normal life at a normal pace. They were doing all the things that I wanted to do when I was there. I was only going to be gone 1 year. What could I possibly miss in 1 year??
It felt like I had put my life on hold to be a babysitter. WHAT?! What have I done?? I should be back in school getting my masters, I should be working in my field gaining experience, I should be rubbing elbows with higher-ups to make something of myself.
But I wasn’t.
I was nannying for basically no pay. For 1 year. In another country. Doing something that had NOTHING to do with what I studied.
How was I going to translate this back into my American life? Vet clinics aren’t going to care that I watched kids for a year, grad schools aren’t going to care that I am a German beer expert now. Why did I waste this valuable learning time playing kids games??
I had this panic for the rest of my time as an au pair. I wanted to literally pull my head apart; Thats the best way that I have to describe the feeling. I started having panic attacks. I woke up late and went to bed early, anything to make the days go by faster.
When I am in a panic, I turn to planning. Anything and everything. I made lists of possible schools to go to when I got back. I looked up possible jobs to apply for as soon as I returned. I made schedules of people to see to set up internships. Basically, I wanted to be able to hit the ground running as soon as I was back on US soil, to make up for the fact that I wasted that year.
Looking back, the feelings that I was having were the real waste. Instead of savoring the time I had being fresh in a new country, I was wallowing in the pool of “what ifs”. I didn’t realize how young I was, how much time I had.
Now, when I think back on that time, I feel sad for that girl. I have done so much since then, and it took coming back to the states to realize I was living my real dream all along.
I did leave Germany, came home, found a job and about 9 months into that job I realized that I didn’t want to be here. I love my job, my coworkers, my friends, but I wasn’t happy here anymore. I was too comfortable, life here was too easy and I just wasn’t ready to give up my travel dream. I was also meeting older people who were more settled that were telling me how they wish they would have travelled when they were my age. That’s what really lit a fire under my bum.
So, I found a way to come back to Germany and did just that.
Yes, It was stressful. Yes, I cried a lot (still do). but as soon as I left the second time, I noticed that I didn’t bring along that doubt anymore. I knew that I was making the right choice and that if at any time I want to turn and run, I could.
I found that it is much easier to make spontaneous, risky decisions now, while I am not tied down to any one place, than it will be later on when I have a “real” career, a husband or kids.
Sure. This life is exciting. This life is ever changing.It is also full of very high highs and very very low lows. I’m jealous of people that can stay on one place and feel content. I long for that comfort.
This itch the always move around can be a real bitch.
So, while traveling is fun and I highly recommend it, the next time you see a photo of that friend that is always traveling and always in a new place, know that they probably spend a lot of time wondering if they made the right decision and that there a lot of tear stained pages in their diary.
Thanks for reading!
Have you had any of these feels when traveling? What did you do to mitigate the brain explosions that come with moving?