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.