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So, you went traveling.
For the first time!! WOOT, go you!! Maybe you went with a friend, significant other, or perhaps you took a leap of faith and went all by your merry self. But you did it, you got outside of your comfort zone and saw the world. You did incredibly adventurous things that you’ll never forget. You made friends with people from all corners of the globe and learned so much more about the world and yourself that no university professor could teach you.
The goodbyes were awful, but you had learned over the course of your travels that you never know what this crazy life could bring, and you might meet these amazing people again somewhere different and make new memories all over again.
But for now, you’re back at home. You’ve been welcomed by your friends and family who have been living vicariously through all your Facebook and Instagram posts and are thrilled to see you back! They ask, “Where was your favourite place?” and, “What was the coolest thing you did?” And you answer with a simple, “I loved everywhere,” “It’s hard to pick what was the best”… because you know they all have their own lives to attend to and don’t have time to listen to a full answer. It would take you a long time to describe the experience you just had. If not an eternity! So, you save the long stories for your close friends and family members, and you return to working life, trying to financially recover from all the withdrawals listed in your back account!
But something is not right.
You’re back to the same job, with the same co-workers, dealing with the same regular customers who are complaining about the same thing as they were before you left. Your friends are still hanging out at the same place, going to the same bar every Saturday night… It seems as if they’re even discussing the same topics!
And no one notices but you.
You’re left standing there wanting to scream, “CAN’T YOU SEE?” You look around and see everyone living their lives in a box—it’s as if you’re standing on the outside looking in, wondering why all your friends can’t see the bubble they’ve happily trapped themselves in.
You’ve gone from living life at a million miles an hour to a screeching halt. You’ve changed, and I don’t mean the update-your-social-media-profile kind of change. I’m talking about how your view on life has done a complete 180.
You realize how short and valuable life is, how beautiful the world is, and you are yearning to see more, to do more! You realize how much you’re capable of and are spending most of your time planning out where you’re going to take off to next, and your bucket list grows longer every day. You’ve got a fire in your belly that you can’t extinguish. You feel invincible, on top of the world!
Throughout the return home, you find that the place where you used to be so content, surrounded by a routine, now makes your skin itch with distaste. You avoid any talk about your career, saving to buy a house or your marital status like the plague because no one understands this new frame of mind you’ve developed. They say you’ve been "bitten by the travel bug," but you know it’s more than that. It’s more than a Pinterest page or a couple bookmarked websites. It’s an essential way of life that you couldn’t imagine living without. To have no fixed address, to not know where you’re going to be sleeping night to night… being completely outside of your previous comfort zone.
So you spend your hours reading travel blogs, scrolling through Nomad Instagram posts, talking with your travel buddies, and compiling a list of places to go next. You see all your new friends online posting pictures of where they are in the world and you smile to yourself because you know what it’s like out there. But you need money, so you go back to work, and the cycle begins.
Work… travel… repeat… work… travel… repeat… until you can get yourself back out there.
I often find myself reading back through my travel journal, scrolling through my hundreds of photos and messaging travel friends between time changes in attempt to keep myself sane among the working grind. Anything to keep myself distracted until I can get myself off the ground and into an airplane.
Until then, don’t forget who you’ve become. What you’ve learned. Who you’ve met along the way. There’s a whole community of us nomads out there, all craving the same thing: to see the world. You’re never alone. It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later!!