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Instagram or Instigator?

Instagram’s got a knack for making us forget the grass is green wherever you are.

Photo by Molly Olwig (@giwlo) 

I’ve always had that pull to travel, to be somewhere else and experience something seemingly more exciting than wherever I currently am.  Our individual world’s are so easily global—thank you, social media. The rise of international budget airlines help that, too. It’s easy to get caught up in the sparkle of travel, especially when we’re bombarded with perfectly captured, colored and curated images of the best moments abroad from all kinds of people on various social platforms. 

Home for me, currently, is New Orleans, and yes, the city is as exciting as you might have heard. But, admittedly, I quickly fell into the trap of “the grass is greener,” so I booked a one-way flight to Paris. I landed, reached city center, stepped outside into the crisp Parisian air, and—to my surprise—life felt normal. It didn’t feel special to be somewhere new, and that bothered me.

I stepped around a corner of an old building on Rue de la Manutention, turned and there it was—the Eiffel Tower.  Initially awestruck, I was captured quickly by the beauty and architectural feat. That feeling fades, though, and that “Now what?” tapped on my shoulder. I started feeling guilty—I’ve traveled all this way and am concurrently so incredibly grateful for the ability to do so but ... Now what? 

The feeling of needing to make every moment count is exhausting, and it’s a feeling of travel that I feel is missing from the conversation—life is normal wherever you go. Popping up in a new space doesn’t consistently award glowing and sparkly feelings, and that’s okay.  The same things we are working on at home still ride with us on the flight and stick with us on the arrival. Life doesn’t pause when we travel. 

Just as Instagram provided a filtered view of life, that’s how I’ve experienced travel conversations: highly filtered and only “the best.”  The topic that’s often absent is the one I’m bringing up now: travel is beautiful, tough and emotional. If you travel or are thinking of traveling, I want to be a friendly reminder that it’s okay to feel negative feelings. It’s okay to feel guilty sometimes, and it’s okay to allow yourself to breathe. It sounds like common sense in writing, but be gentle with yourself when traveling. If anyone’s felt how I’ve felt, feel free to comment and join the conversation. 

The world is big, and beautiful, and normal.



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