» What I’ve learned so far…
  • What I’ve learned so far…

    May 01st • Posted in personal

    Over the past month (has it really been that long since I left?) I’ve moped my way through London, hopped a plane and day drank in Barcelona, ate and screwed my way through Paris, relaxed and bonded with extended family in Bonn/Koln, partied my way through Prague, and impulsively made my way back to Paris to follow through on a connection (spoiler alert: obviously it doesn’t see itself through, so no worries.) Needless to say, a bit of a whirlwind– but I wouldn’t take back for a second. I’ve learned a countless amount of lessons and mounds about myself that I probably wouldn’t have found out unless I was solo travelling for an extended period of time.

    This post won’t really have a ton of structure as I’m mostly just putting out there for the world to read, but I sort of want to acknowledge that I’ve made it this far, alive. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I’m still here. And I’m happier for it.

    I guess the first thing that’s really slayed me was learning that this trip was an excuse for me to run away from a lot of responsibilities. Unfortunately, this bit me back in the ass quickly and in tenfold– and I was stuck interviewing for grad schools in London time, while panicking about moving out of my apartment and where I would end up in the future. It probably isn’t best to use a trip to run away from problems. It’s also best to settle everything at home and get organized before you leave. Spontaneity will come during the travelling, so save it for them.  I suppose that’s not the only thing about “running away” that’s really come back to bite me in the ass. Matters of relationships and love have also come back to haunt me.

    I don’t know if you know this, but I think it takes a certain type of person to travel through the world– the type of person who can open his/herself up to the beauty of the world and learn to love it. Unfortunately, this means the average traveller is in awe of pretty much everything. Or maybe that’s just me. I consider myself a pretty emotionally aware person– but there’s something about travelling that sort of sends me haywire. I find myself constantly falling in love… and in turn, constantly getting my heart broken. On my last night in Paris, I met someone with whom I felt a palpable connection (Perhaps it’s because I left the dating scene in Chicago as an absolute trainwreck.) But I knew it was probably something a little more than that because I had spent some nights with other guys and hadn’t felt the same rapport that I did with this one. We shared laughs, kisses, and random anecdotes about our lives. Obviously, I’m not stupid enough to believe this was love (I’m saving that for Prague,) but it was enough of a connection that I felt like I wanted to keep in touch– which is more than I can say for some of my other encounters (“Wait, you didn’t even tell me your name, did you?” “Nope. That was fun though, get out.”) In any case, long story short– obviously travelling prevents me from pursuing that connection. He had his own life before me, and I had my own life before him, so unfortunately, despite the connecton I felt– we both had to be realistic (more so me than anything) and ground it back to earth. After flying back to Paris, I found out that he has a girlfriend now (quick, I guess– but after hearing him talk about it, a long time coming.) It’s not anyone’s fault really– but it’s just the way timing, travelling and life work. I’m optimistic that we’ll still be friends, and who knows? If he visits America, we’ll at least get to see each other again. I’ve talked to many other travellers who have been through similar experiences, and that’s what I find so devastating about travelling– it never quite feels real, does it?

    Travelling sort of casts this romantic, magic haze upon everything. I’m starting to question if the friendships I’ve made are genuine, or the connections I’ve felt– even my love for cities. I think there’s a level of superficiality for every traveller, especially in hostels. In hostels you just want to get to know people so you don’t feel so alone, so you bust out the standard speech: “Hi I’m [insert name here] from [insert place here.] Yeah, I’m travelling [by myself/with ______] and we just came from [insert place here] and we’re going to [insert place here.]” But maybe these are real? At the very least, if they’re not real– I can take comfort in becoming a better, more cultured person who got over her crippling shyness by putting myself out there. Regarding cities, I fell madly in love with Prague, and I’m gutted that I’ve left. Perhaps it’s also the people and the friendships I’ve forged that make it a little worse for wear. sad

    But I can take comfort in knowing that there’s still some semblance of a romantic inside of me. For fuck’s sake, part of the reason I flew back to Paris is because I wanted to pursue a connection with someone. But more importantly, like a lot of travellers I meet– I am too busy falling in love with everything else to let it completely phase me. While I feel like my heart may be broken now, I know I’ll bounce back quickly because both my sanity and my schedule depend on it. Solo travelling is beautiful in the fact you have so many things to pour yourself into that you don’t have to focus on the things that are going wrong.

    My heart might be broken now, but there will be other boys, there will be other cities, and most importantly– there will always be lessons to learn from it. While I don’t want to stop travelling, the past month has been a whirlwind and I’m glad I’ve had some downtime to write about it.