The Wild Will Escape Us
Within less than two weeks, I arranged a trip, packed my bags, and hopped on a plane to Europe and although I’d like to say it was for glamour, recreation, or fun, it ultimately came down to one reason: escaping the life I was living.
- There’s a multitude of articles out there convincing you to travel and why.
Adventure, love, education, clarity, comradeship, confidence, and an epiphany are points other articles saturate and stress as reasons why you should travel, which are valid arguments. These all came with my trip, but to say these were the reasons why I traveled is a complete lie.
Ultimately, I traveled because I needed an escape.
I was completely lost.
In one hand, a Bachelor’s of Arts degree, in the other, a wad of gifted graduation cash combined with savings from slaving in retail and a stamp on my forehead branded “unemployed”. The sound of Vitamin C’s “Graduation Song” playing in the background of my ceremony gradually distorted into the Jaws theme. Once the festivities and trivialness died down, the smiles faded, the caps once representing freedom and liberation soaring in the air now fell into trash cans, and the same question came out of everyone’s mouth in a less fascinated and more demanding tone:
“So what are you going to do now?”
I had no idea.
That answer only received looks of skepticism and doubt.
People I considered friends suddenly turned their backs or demeaned me, my inbox buried me with six months worth of rejection emails from employers, and like many folks my age, I was beginning to understand the harsh reality, pressure, and competition associated with figuring out life.
What was I supposed to do?
Trapped in a whirlwind of societal pressure, an identity crisis, and people trying to tell me how to live my life, I sought escaping it all. I needed to travel away from everything and everyone to a far-off destination where I didn’t know the town, the culture, or the people; hence the start of my spontaneous backpacking expedition.
All it took was my hundredth resume denied, another rotten remark from a peer about my unemployment, and a text message from a friend telling me “We’re getting shit faced tonight” combined in one day for me to finally snap.
Once again, I was completely lost, but this time it was different."
I recall that day as I instinctively booked a ticket to Dublin, Ireland, my leg shaking and my heart beating faster from anxiety, fear, and nervousness. I had never backpacked in foreign grounds, let alone traveled solo in my entire life, but I did the damn thing.
Two weeks in Europe composed of four countries and seven cities to be exact.
I’ll never forget landing in Dublin on that brisk morning standing alone on the bus platform, the foreign smell of European cologne and cigarettes emanating my nostrils.
Once again, I was completely lost, but this time it was different.
I wasn’t lost because I was afraid of what other people thought or because I lacked position in the professional work world; I was actually physically lost and had no idea where I was. The only thoughts racing in my mind were anxious messages focused around finding familiarity in this new environment for the sake of my survival. The distraction of fending for myself took over the arbitrary fears wrought by the societal values back at home, overall meeting the goal of escaping both externally AND internally.
Everything that came after, the friends, the adventure, the romance and all that jazz trailed along, but once again, I never planned for any of it.
I never planned on having a near-death experience climbing the face of Arthur’s Seat.
I never planned on finding love in a local Scottish pub with a bartender.
I never planned on sleeping beneath the bunk of the rotten-cheese-wet-dog-smelling Dutch man, escorting a Korean girl safely home by navigating the Paris subway late at night, meditating in the wilderness of Glendalough, seeing pure darkness in the Dunmore caves, sipping on pints of warm chocolate-tasting Guinness, enjoying live Gaelic folk music in Brazen Head where drunk local Dubliners broke empty glass cups with the songs, sipping strong bitter coffee with hipsters in Shore Ditch, running from a crazy Australian stalker in Old Edinburgh, getting a free hot breakfast, a hug, and a kiss from a motherly owner of a small café in New Edinburgh, speaking Japanese and getting treated to ice cream by an elderly Japanese couple in the Latin Quarter, battling a French B-boy in the Fourth Arrondissement that reignited my passion for dance, and starting a blog about my journeys and life perspective that would inspire friends, family, and strangers, paving a new pathway and direction in life that I would continue with success to this day.
All I wanted to do was escape and instead, I recaptured my lost identity and reconnected my mind, body, and soul by listening to the voice that mattered the most, my own.
Traveling alone forced me to listen, trust, and rely on myself, something I was failing to do before when I was so strung up on first-world problems. It most importantly taught me to depend on myself for my own happiness because nobody else understood me like myself.
The voyage opened my eyes to the potential harnessed in the environment I had once longed to escape. It wasn’t a matter of escaping the environment; it was about escaping my negative thoughts and myself. It was about surrounding myself with positive and inspiring individuals like those that I encountered through my travels and cutting out negative social ties. It was about discovering and accepting that in life, failure is inevitable, but sometimes failing opens an even greater pathway than before.
And in all complete honesty, anyone can give you 10 reasons why you should travel. I can do it, Buzzfeed can do it, your Mom and Dad can do it, the Travel Channel can do it, hell anyone can and their reasons may be legitimate regardless of the level of content. But I think it’s better to figure out these reasons on your own, essentially, the first step is finding your personal escape and by doing so, your reasons will follow shortly in pursuit.
Here’s my reason why you should travel: It’ll help you listen to the voice that matters, your own.