So you've given in to your wanderlust. You've decided to follow the advice you read in articles that urge 20-somethings to travel, expand their horizons and break cultural barriers.
You've taken the opportunity to be at a different place. You left the safe, familiar vicinity of your home and traveled far away for whatever reason: to study, to travel, to work or volunteer -- anything -- so long as it took you away.
However, what no one ever told you is that being a wanderer comes with a price.
1. Something is always missing.
Like John Mayer sang, "Something's missing, and I don't know how to fix it."
It can be a place, a person, or the hole-in-the-wall coffeehouse in which you’ve become a regular. You will spend your days feeling that something is missing.
You will miss your dorm roommates, your fellow volunteers and/or your students. You will miss the hospitality of your host and the atmosphere of another city.
You'll never be quite satisfied with where you are because all you can think about is another place. Somehow, you'll never feel quite whole again.
2. Goodbyes don't get any easier.
Spending months or years of traveling and moving around leads you to meet a lot of people. They may be different from you, they may have been raised in a completely different culture, and they may not share your beliefs.
However, these are the people who told you the most interesting stories and the ones to whom you could connect despite your many differences. These are the people with whom you share your experiences.
It's the connection you've built in a short period of time that makes it difficult to say goodbye, as well as the fact that the certainty of you being able to return is slim to none.
3. It gets lonely.
I believe this is true, especially in the first few days of settling in a new place. You've moved into your new place, your new routine will start soon and you have a lot of places to explore.
However, sometimes you just long to have company and deep, long conversations about life. You long for someone who will understand you to the very core. And most times, all you can do is to rely on yourself, which is most definitely easier said than done.
4. Social media will rule your life.
You just can't imagine shutting down your Facebook account. It's the only way you can stay in touch with the friends you've made while you hopping from one place to another.
Being able to get updates on someone’s life in another place makes you somehow feel like you're still part of that life.
It may seem superficial to only be virtually connected to others and you'd hate yourself for stalking photos of their latest adventures, but it will also make you miss them and your old life more, which really doesn't make it any easier for you.
5. You don't know what or where home is anymore.
This could be a good thing or a bad thing; it really just depends on you. For some, home is the open road. It's not about the familiar places and faces; it's about feeling comfortable and free.
Others feel deeply rooted in their hometowns. Though, despite this, sometimes there is a lingering feeling of wanting to be back in the “other home.” Like I've said before, something will always be missing and because of this, sometimes being back “home” won't feel like what it once did.
Despite all of this, take note of the famous Tolkien quote, “Not all those who wander are lost.” The loneliness and missing pieces are really just a price you've paid for having such an enriched life; a life in which, one day, you'll look back and smile at all the wondrous things you have done.
So, instead of wallowing in sadness and giving in to loneliness, remember all the adventures you've had. Be proud of the fact that at the end of the day, you are the one with an interesting story to tell.
Photo via We Heart It