I remember renting a car with a friend back in January 2011, and driving down the western coast of Morocco with a group of travelers who hitched a ride with us back to Marrakech. A bootleg Bob Marley CD was playing over the speakers, slightly drowned out by the sound of wind running through my hair as we sang along to the music, our laughter and voices mingling with the crash of white crested waves breaking against endlessly rocky shores. That was my first taste of it; the start of a lifelong addiction to waking up in the morning and not knowing what the day would bring … and despite those risks, not caring at all.
You may have noticed I haven’t been as engaged with social media the more I’ve continued into my travels. There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) I’ve changed cities every 2 days since the beginning of October and therefore haven’t had much time and 2) I’ve forgotten about the need to feel validation online through other people witnessing my experiences. It’d be hypocritical of me to act like that was never a motive before, but I’m posting now because I also believe in the good stories can do, by being open and honest and sharing thoughts that come from the innermost part of one’s self.
Bear this in mind: what I post online is never meant to encourage any type of comparison to other peoples’ choices or situations, especially mine. I hate the notion that sharing my stories would ever make someone feel bad in anyway. Maybe that is absolutely presumptuous to say, but I remember what it was like sitting at the other end of a screen for 2 years, constantly comparing myself to other peoples’ highlight reels because of what I read online.
Here’s the truth about traveling: it isn’t always great. There’s the constant worry of what you have to do next, what place you need to be, how much money needs to be exchanged, the anxiety of meeting new people over and over again, sometimes being stranded, struggling with language barriers, and most importantly, trying not to feel lonely. Traveling the way I’ve chosen to is definitely not for everyone, and that’s totally okay. But I feel motivated to share my experiences to encourage anyone who’s ever thought about it — even in the slightest — to take that risk and really go for it. Because as hard as it can be, out of everything I’ve ever done in my life, nothing has ever beat the exhilaration of travel. And don’t do it for the likes, don’t do it to say you’ve been there – do it to learn about yourself, do it to learn about the world, do it to learn that regardless of the different languages someone speaks, or where they grew up, or the things they believe, every person on this earth is just like you, searching for happiness and meaning in who they are, even under circumstances you may not begin to fathom.
In the end, everyone I’ve ever met in my life has stayed with me, a fond memory like a flash of color or burst of warmth that I hold close to my chest like a worn out trinket. Even more so now as I tumble through life like a chopped off piece of planetary dust with no trajectory, I juggle between feeling both the greatest fear and truest happiness that I’ve ever experienced in my life. So to anyone who even managed to read all this, I wanted you to know that wherever you are in the world or in your life, you are not alone. I feel just the same as you, and regardless of the lack of confidence in the choices we make, we’ll get through it together.
Photo courtesy of @joenagraphy; on the speedboat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap