A couple of months ago, we were having a chat with one of our CouchSurfing hosts in Turin about our world tour. When I mentioned we’d only been on the road for two months, he laughed and said, “Wow, only two months? But that’s a lot already!” That’s when it hit me. For most of us occidental folks, we’ve never been on the road that long because, well, we’re way too comfy on our sofas scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, envious of those who are doing something meaningful with their lives.
Let me tell you this: as much as traveling the world looks good on social media, it isn’t all that glamorous for the rest of us, aka not-rich young people. There’s a lot to learn—be it about yourself, others, how to receive and how to give…
So, why do we travel?
For most of us, we have to convince ourselves every morning that we’re fine; we hate this job, but we’re fine. We don’t like the person that we are, but we’re fine. We want to see the world, but we’re fine looking at it through our Instagram window because, after all, we’re fine on this sofa, or in this overly expensive small room in Shoreditch where we haven’t slept properly in two months because of the chaos in the street every night. But we’re fine. Of course we are! Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be stuck here like an old piece of dry chewing gum.
The ugly truth is that we prefer being comfortable and “fine” rather than uncomfortable for a little while and eventually being great, amazing and on top of the fucking world.
This is why we travel. Traveling is simple, but it certainly isn’t easy. Every day you have to put yourself in this uncomfortable situation of having to talk with strangers, not knowing where you’re going, getting lost, going over budget and having to face unpredictable, uncomfortable situations. We travel because we’ve decided to change something. Because our soul wants to thrive. And for once, we didn’t shut it up. We bought the fucking backpack, put way too much stuff in it and took ourselves to the road; we broke our backs carrying that way-too-heavy bloody backpack until our backs eventually became stronger and the backpack started feeling lighter. We looked at our fears straight in the eyes and said, “Now you fucking watch me.” And we did it, in all the uncomfortable ways. We slept on the floor, grilled on the side of the road for hours with our thumb out, froze our asses off in a bus stuck in the snow for a day, got our feet covered in blisters, wandered around Barcelona for two hours at three in the morning trying to find a hostel that wasn’t full…
Are we still alive? Yes. Are we better? Yes. Have we grown? Yes. We have suddenly stopped letting life evaporate through our fingers. You can only live consciously, not through this everyday routine—a routine you hate so much, you put your mind out of it until you don’t even realize you’re doing it anymore. Numbing the pain doesn’t take the suffering away.
So we got on the road where we are our only home—where we are our only safe space, because everything else is unfamiliar, and only then do we discover the world inside of us. Our true selves. The inner child who’s been hurting for years, but keep shutting up. The broken adult with their dreams that we never give attention to. We find out that we have wings that we never even knew were there.
Some people will say that we’re just running away. I say yes, we are. We are running away from this society telling us that success will come from killing ourselves in work, therefore ignoring our feelings. We’re running away from all the distractions that are keeping us from becoming a better version of ourselves. We’re running away from the toxic people who are trying to convince us that “just one drink won’t kill us,” when we can be nine months sober today. We’re running away from anyone telling us how to live our lives. We’re running away from the inner voice criticizing everything we do because it wouldn’t fit society’s standards.
And guess what? Running away isn’t a bad thing. You should try it sometimes. Run away from all the toxic things that are keeping you from being alive, just like you would run away from someone trying to shoot you with a gun. Run away from the media telling you that the world is fucked up. Run away from the government telling you that you need to work more. Run and be your true self. Stop being afraid to look inside. Stop being afraid of what you want and hit that road. Because not only will you discover all the wonders of the world, but you will also discover all the wonders of yourself.
Author: Melissa Clerc
Author Bio: I’m a 26-year-old queer soul wandering around the world in a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
Link to social media: Instagram @_lhune