Why isn’t travel inspiring me anymore?

Why isn’t travel inspiring me anymore?

It’s been approximately three months since I’ve hit the road. Whenever I video call my friends and family, I don’t know what to say about my journey. I felt like nothing interesting happened to me. I don’t feel the same joy I did when I was travelling Thailand or Cambodia or even freaking Singapore, which in my opinion, is one of the most boring places there is to visit.

What’s freaking wrong with me? Why do I feel so shitty even though I’ve technically fulfilled my year long dream of travelling the world?

I’m on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I’m travelling through some of the most exotic places in the world. I don’t have to work, I don’t have to deal with horrible students’ problems, I don’t have to talk to people I don’t like. I’m meeting interesting people. I’m learning a lot. What is this feeling? Why aren’t I happier? Why don’t I feel inspired, like I can take on the world the moment I wake up?

Travelling has always been idealized. It’s “life-changing”, and “eye-opening” and “gives you a new perspective”. The world is a book and those who do not wander read only a page. Collect moments, not things. Blah blah blah. As much truth as these banal platitudes hold, it makes people feel like if they don’t travel, they aren’t interesting. At least, that’s what I’ve felt.

When I left, I left a job that wasn’t so inspiring anymore. Friends and family who were starting to settle down to make their mark in the world. Comfort. I left all of that behind. I hated the person I had become, the person who wears a professional mask, but who no longer feels. Leaving behind all those things should have solved my problems. After all, during my trip to Thailand, Cambodia and whatever, I assumed the idealized version of myself. Curious and adventurous, the world is her playground. She’s brave and inspiring, and an amazing storyteller.

Turns out, two weeks is all it takes to exhaust the storyteller.

What happened in Brasov?

Brasov, for a lot of people, is about the mountains and the town and the history. Brasov, for me, is a place for spiritual enlightening. It sounds really pretentious; I swear I gagged a little when I typed it. When I was mulling on whether or not to recapture the soul of the adventurer and delve into the boozy depths of youth hostels, I stumbled across Simi’s AirBnb listing. She believes firmly in “the universe delivers”. The thing was, you have to know what is it that you want the universe to deliver. We are so constantly bamboozled by the myriad of distractions and temptations in the world, it’s difficult to really know what you want.

So.. what was the problem?

The problem was never the external factors. Not the bad experiences I’ve had throughout the trip, not the uninspiring environment; it was anything but. It was me. The storyteller is another side of Angelynn. She is not permanent, like the couch potato that I was, or the wide-eyed teacher that performs in front of students, or even the numb, unfeeling person I had become. The problem was that, for most of the time in the past year, passive Angelynn drove the front seat. Oh, the irony! When she does, the world ceases to be interesting. Without consciously choosing to drop her, the world will be the same as when I left Kuala Lumpur— uninteresting and uninspiring.

The problem was, before I left, I was drifting— through life, through my job. It was uninteresting because I didn’t know what I wanted. Leaving behind the life I’ve built doesn’t solve the problem because I was still drifting. I wanted adventure, but what it is? To jump off a cliff? To taste insects? I don’t really know. If I don’t know what adventure means to me, how can I expect to be surprised and to live the life I wanted by coming out here?

What have I learnt?

Travelling can be a lot of things, but it’s not a cure-all pill. It can, however, offer you a gazillion distractions and paths to make consciously choosing to abandon the numb, unfeeling drifter way easier than usual. But, travelling’s not going to magically solve all your problems. More often than not, we are the problem; it’s within us. After all, wherever your problems are, there you are. You can run, but you can’t hide. After all that bullshit about stepping out of your comfort zone, mentally, you’re still there if nothing inside really changed.

In psychology, we always say we can’t help a client who doesn’t want to be helped. We also can’t help ourselves if we don’t want to be helped. Travelling, especially travelling solo, helps to force ourselves to deal with us. I had to face it. And once I did, I can change it. It’s all uphill from here. I can feel it.

Okay, I’m just posting this picture because I miss sunny Meteora. Darn Irish weather! 🙁
October 11, 2017
January 3, 2018
  1. Brittany Johnson

    Thank you for the inspiration ! Happy Travels ! Also, please feel
    Free to check out http://www.britisabella.com

    Reply

  2. Dory

    Angelynn, I applaud you. You went ahead and disconnected with the same and safe. This discontent. This drift happens to the best of us, I feel it too. But you are not a drifter. You are a collector of moments; however fleeting. And you will surely write.
    You are a writer! Only when you write everything will make sense. Take care!

    Reply

  3. Angelynn Tan

    Thanks for commenting again, Dory; it's always a pleasure to wake up to an encouraging comment like this. That's part of the reason why I write. If I don't, it gets all tangled up in my brain and I can't process it.

    Reply

  4. Angelynn Tan

    Thanks Brittany! OMG you went to a Coldplay concert?! That's so cool!

    Reply

  5. Chiara Chimù

    I loved how honest you’ve been. You could have said this in hundreds of ways, letting the light hit the brightest side of your inner discover, instead you started from the darkest and deepest spot of yourself. You led us all through you view and I felt the light too when you said you saw it. You are a true storyteller, don’t let a little momento of boredom kill it! 😉

    Reply

    1. travelholicmusings

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Chiara. I’m doing so much better now, actively choosing to do things instead of letting boredom take over. It’s going to be a great 2018. Hope it’ll be like that for you too! 🙂

      Reply

  6. Marya

    i hope things work well with you by now. the piece is so inspiring, it somehow gives me some enlightenment about how it feels like to be a full-time traveler. i don’t know though, i just feel like it’s okay for me to stress out with work some time, just to balance things up with the joy when i travel. 🙂

    Reply

    1. travelholicmusings

      Yeah, definitely agree with that. I like how you mentioned balance; that’s exactly what’s lacking. Travelling full time is fun and all, but it does warp your reality. You’d start to take joy for granted and assume that if you’re not feeling happy, you’re depressed. It’s messed up. Glad you found my post helpful! 🙂

      Reply

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