The inconvenient truth about travelling

There is barely anything as brutal as travelling.

There is barely anything as brutal as travelling alone. What people say is: it takes you out of your comfort zone. But this sterile term doesn’t even get close to what travelling does to you. And I haven’t even done it right, yet. I haven’t even left behind the cosy, cosy comfort zone of our western world, the “first world”, the “developed countries”. Yet still, it can make you incredibly uncomfortable.

Not in the sense of feeling unsafe – even though that can happen too, especially as an alone girl travelling. What it does is: it forces you to have a look at your life from the outside. As pathetic as it may sound, travelling the world, alone, without a set up plan is a journey to yourself. I believe it is important to not have a set plan. To “go with the flow”, as some people say. To allow yourself this uncomfortable feeling of “What the heck am I even doing here??!” This is when you start thinking about your life, this is when you start questioning things, this is when you grow. And this will change you forever. Every “real” journey I have done so far, starting with my first trip to Spain at the age of 15 which ended in a slight disaster (I was so so homesick), to my travels to North America after high school (which, by the way, ended in a real disaster), to my semester in Iceland (interesting enough… another disaster) and now this (rather short) trip to North America again, they all have changed my life and I believe to the better.

Travelling is an edgy experience. One moment I am the happiest person ever, I have this light-headed, almost high feeling of real exploration, and then, all of a sudden the heavy load of loneliness, sadness and emptiness gets a hold on me. This is why, I assume, travels often do end up in (personal) disasters. To allow yourself real boredom, allow yourself meet and talk to strangers (yesss that social awkwardness), face other peoples’ realities is what makes that experience edgy. Face your high expectations as well as the fact that you will most likely never be able to live up to them. But what all this means, ultimately, even if you feel like shit all the time, is that you get to know yourself better. You realize that practically no problem remains unsolved, or if it does that it might in fact not be such a big deal. You realize that it is not the end of the world if things do not work out the way you wanted it to. The most important thing though is that you realize that you are not alone in this world and most people you’ll meet will be happy to talk to you, share their thoughts with you or help you out if you’re in need. And this is the most beautiful thing to learn when you are travelling.

Real travelling hurts.

Real travelling is what brings us, as human beings, closer together again. Now, what do I mean by “real” travelling? It is the unplanned, the unexpected, the chaotic. It is not: the two weeks in a 4-star-hotel-resort in Egypt. It is not “your individual adventure trip to Bolivia”, organized by your very personal travel agent. And it is also not the “camping and rock-climbing trip with your best buddies to Croatia”. Those trips might be fun and they are practiced for exactly that reason (which is fine, too).  But they are, most likely, not the travels that will really get you out of your comfort zone.

So this time my journey was edgy in the best possible way – which means it left me behind slightly distorted, blindly engaging in habitual, destructive behaviour as a well known way out of this feeling. And with the conviction that I have to face it. It’s gonna take some time, to get things sorted out again. And some pieces might never fall back into place again, as they did not on earlier occations. But one thing is for sure: I gave myself the chance to grow.

PS: The pictures are the first load from NYC. I killed my free photoshop version so I had to find a quick solution and ended up with the software Perfect Effects Free 9 which I couldn’t handle too well so I ended up doing very simple, b/w editing. Also, they are cropped in the slightshow (still working on some layout stuff) – so you might want to click on them to see the whole thing. Hope you still enjoy.

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