It’s been a long five days of being sick with everything from altitude sickness to severe indigestion to general moodiness. Thankfully I’m finally feeling well enough to string words together as a sentence and am here to report on the amazing insights into one’s psyche that can only be gleaned from five days of near solitude while stuck in a tiny hotel room.
Being sick while traveling around the world is an expected, but less than ideal situation. Being sick alone is even more less than ideal. And being a lonely sick nomad while having your dreams belittled, is just downright suboptimal. Luckily, I find writing therapeutic, and now that I’m in the clear medically speaking, it’s time to filter out the frustrations that have been building up in my mind ever since I made the decision to travel.
Good Intentions Gone Awry
First, I am aware that the people in my life have good intentions when they make innocent remarks such as: “You’ve already seen enough of the world” or “How do you think you’ll manage coming back to a normal life?” Still when I hear these comments, I can’t help but wonder if they would be as understanding as I am if I turned the critiques around and said, “You’ve been married long enough” or “Don’t you have enough kids already?” Something tells me that would not go over as smoothly even though it seems fair to me to put somebody else’s life on trial if they’re doing the same to me.
Thus it’s hard not to get slightly bitter over time with the continued well-intentioned but misguided comments that seem to be finding their way to either my earlobes or facebook wall. What makes matters worse is that I think sometimes people are playing off the fact that I am having a more difficult time than expected. The “Just come home” comments, while I know are well-intentioned, are more hurtful than anything because they insinuate that what I’m doing out here in the world is meaningless. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things it is, but if you really think about it, whose life taken alone isn’t? I don’t buy into the whole “My life is more important than yours because I do this” argument because I believe that in society, everybody is dependent upon each other, regardless of their role. Getting back on point however, to this day it still frustrates me that people close to me don’t understand that traveling is my passion. It is my life, what I consider to be a normal life, and it is not something I can just quit or easily give up because of a couple of speed bumps.
Constantly on the Defense
The truth of the matter is that I very well could end up spending my entire life trying to figure out how to make living as a nomad a sustainable lifestyle. I hear the stories about people who go on career break and never come back and think, “Yep, I’m definitely a prime candidate for that role.” I think it just suits me and my personality really well and as far as I’m concerned, I fail to see how this is a negative personality trait. Yet, somehow I always seem to be put on the defensive about why I want to live this kind of life as opposed to the more traditional married with children approach. I don’t understand it and my patience with diplomatically defending my lifestyle without hurting the feelings of others is starting to grow very thin.
But alas, I have writing as my therapeutic relief and I’ve come up with a list of the biggest misconceptions about my motivations to travel and hopefully, some clarification:
- I am not trying to punish my parents with a rebellious teenager act of running away from home. I do love and care for my family a great deal, and so far nobody has provided a legitimate reason for why traveling around the world challenges that.
- I am not running away from my problems. Quite frankly, I don’t see myself as a person who grew up with many obstacles and I don’t otherwise have any serious life problems. Therefore I don’t think there is anything from which to run. Sure I’ve moved around between several cities after college and now I’m transitioning careers but that’s simply the standard trial and error of life.
- I’m not selfish for wanting to travel around the world by myself. No, I’m simply a person of action and traveling is my particular passion. Life is a gift and so what do I prove to anybody by wasting my life waiting for something great to happen to me?
- I’m not celebristalking Anthony Bourdain. Just kidding, no one’s ever accused me of that even though that theory probably has the most credibility.
- Traveling around the world isn’t my Plan B because I couldn’t find a man. This one really gets under my skin because I actually had been dumped, rejected, heartbroken and even humiliated by more men than I care to recount and I don’t appreciate these past experiences being used to explain the theory that I’m now giving up and settling for a life as a spinster. Quite frankly, I view each and every one of those suboptimal experiences as divine intervention because with the hindsight I have now, I can’t possibly fathom being married in my 20’s as being a more fulfilling life than the one I’m leading now and I will happily wait an entire lifetime for the right man.
- “Being married isn’t a better life, it’s just a different one.” I read this in an article that really spoke to me at a time when I was feeling disparaged about being single and about not being upset by that fact. Though, I think the “being married” part can really be substituted with anybody’s lifestyle choice including mine, traveling around the world. I don’t think that quitting my job and traveling around the world for a few years makes me a better person than the next, it just made me in particular happy. Though I’m not going to lie, I still think that being able to responsibly quit your job at 28 without the safety net of grad school is pretty cool.
All in all, the point I want to make is that each person’s life is as equally important as the next and we could all probably benefit from treating each other as such. Live and let live folks…it’s really that simple.