When I tell people that I’ve been travelling for 8 months, the most common response I hear is: “I hate people like you.” Not entirely sure how to respond, I reassure them that I took big risks to come on a trip like this. That I gave up my relatively secure job in a not so great economy, sold my home and a big chunk of my belongings, and left my family and friends behind. At this point, they usually realize I’m not 22 years old on a gap year and that the risks I’ve taken will have an impact on my so-called career among other things, and that I have left most comforts behind to be away from home and fulfill my insatiable desire to travel. Most confess that they wouldn’t have the ‘courage’ (or stupidity?) to give up so much, and with that they don’t ‘hate’ me anymore.
I’m far from the first person to go on an extended journey after spending years in one place trying to build my career, and I won’t be the last. But what I’ve learned is that even if the departure and arrival points are similar, the journey for each wayfarer is individual. I’ve always loved to travel. It was sort of a first true love. To surrender myself to wandering around the world for an extended period of time felt in many ways like I was ‘going home.' I didn’t expect it to be easy, but as clichéd as it sounds, I didn’t expect to have to get so comfortable with it being just me.
At 33 years old, I thought I was pretty comfortable with myself. But there’s nothing like throwing yourself in the Sumatran jungle, deep in the Balinese sea or on a 3200m ascent up the Himalayas to be forced to be ok with just you. I have learned to be present, to trust (myself), to be patient (usually with myself, but sometimes with pushy rickshaw drivers), to roll with the punches, to smile when I don’t want to (and just as important to not smile when I don’t want to), to make friends quickly and to be ok with the time I might be unhappy, lonely or both.
Many people ask if travelling alone is lonely. My answer is – mostly, it isn’t. I have met some of the most incredible and unexpected friends along my journey, some for just a couple hours, who brighten my day, and some for a couple of weeks who have helped make my journey. But at the same time, there have been moments where I have ached for family and friends from home, wishing that I could transport them, even if just for an hour or two, to a street stall I know they’d love, or to share the view from a mountain top or to feel the warm sun on our faces on a cool day together. I miss my niece and nephew terribly and have a list of countries I hope to one day take them to, but I have to somehow reconcile that it won’t be now or may never be, and that’s a hard pill to swallow, knowing that I may never be able to share my favourite corners of the world with some of the people I love.
Megan quit her job back in the fall of 2012 to become a professional daydreamer (and travelling yogi). This past year she has travelled from Beijing (China) to Bergen (Norway) all by ground transportation, in addition to working her way through the Indian subcontinent, parts of Southeast Asia and Turkey. A true lover of travel, yoga, bikes and chocolate she shares her love for these things (amongst others) on her blog megantasker.com.
:) Sounds challenging and fantastic. Somehow, Megan, I'm not surprised you and Stephanie are friends. ~CatherineReplyDelete
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