The Perils Of Wanderlust: How I Learned To Put A Pause On Love
Travel is a luxury for most people.
It's a way to escape and explore. But, the word "travel" actually comes from the French word "travail," which means agony or torture.
I think I would be hard-pressed to convince anyone traveling is torture.
In fact, it is the exact opposite. But when your travels involve leaving the people you love for an extended period of time, your heart may begin to disagree with you.
It zipped open. That was one of my main requirements.
It wasn’t one of those top-loading backpacks where you had to take out all of your items and dig for what you wanted.
No, if I was going to be living out of this thing for half a year, it had to zip open.
It was small, but large enough to fit a pair of jeans, a couple of skirts, a dress or two, a few swimsuits and a few shirts, along with the necessities such as layers for warmth and various different types of medicines, just in case.
It was black and simple, and for sixth months, it was my home.
In the weeks leading up to my departure, the sight of my backpack created problems for us.
It lay in the corner of my room, surrounded by the items I was preparing to take with me.
I could tell when it caught his eye.
He would glance over at it, and all of a sudden, his face would become solemn.
The light would flicker away from his eyes. He would grow distant.
It was as if it was the backpack’s fault I was leaving.
The truth of it is, I am one of the lucky ones.
Out of 308 million Americans, only 30 percent have passports.
From that 30 percent, half of those passports only make it as far as Mexico and Canada.
I was going all out: 180 days, 12 countries and one backpack.
I was headed all the way across the world, but in his mind, he could only see it as being worlds away from him.
People act like wanderlust is something fantastic, a wildly glamorous thing.
It’s the thing people on Tumblr strive for, a word Instagram posts are littered with and something all people imagine they possess.
Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, and I think everyone does experience wanderlust in some way.
Everyone has a thirst for adventure and a desire to explore the world.
But the people who are truly at wanderlust’s mercy are the people who don’t just dream about going out and seeing the world.
They are the people who actually go and do it.
My wanderlust was forced upon me when I was just 10 years old.
My parents were taking my two older siblings and I on a four-month trip around the world.
It was an incredible and ambitious feat, but I was absolutely opposed.
I was adamant in my intent not to go.
I had no interest in leaving my comfortable life, no interest in living out of a backpack and no desire to wander about strange places and sleep in strange beds.
My parents made me go.
I would be lying if I said that at 10 years old, I truly appreciated all the amazing things I experienced.
But, it shifted something within me. It changed me forever.
It showed me, at an extremely young age, that the world isn’t unattainable.
It’s right there outside your doorstep, waiting to be explored.
Once I had a piece of that pie, I wanted the rest.
Since the time of my high school graduation, I have spent no more than a year and a half in one place.
I have been on the move, exploring, wandering and experiencing the world.
But, I have come to realize this comes with a price.
I think most people will agree with me when I say finding a person who you think you can truly fall for takes time.
It’s not often that you encounter someone you can connect with on multiple different levels and dimensions.
Even when you do find someone to crush on, it doesn’t always work out.
It only takes a few weeks to realize certain parts of the person don’t quite mesh.
Then, it’s back to square one.
Who knows? Maybe I’m just picky.
You have to kiss a lot of frogs, right?
But the problem with always leaving is when someone you could see yourself falling hard for stumbles into your life, there is a predetermined expiration date.
The clock is ticking before the race has even begun.
For as long as I’ve been wandering, I have gone around thinking, "Well, if I meet someone now, we’ll have seven months together. If I meet them now, we’ll have four months together. If I meet someone now, it will only be two months."
Two months? That’s nothing. F*ck it.
It’s not easy to allow yourself to become attached to someone you know you will have to leave, which is a lesson I have learned the hard way with my first love.
We met sixth months before I was set to take off on a world trip of my own.
We didn’t let that stop us, though. We dove in deep and immersed ourselves completely within each other.
So when it was time to say goodbye, we couldn’t do it. Not in a healthy way, at least.
For a long time, I blamed traveling for our crumble.
Although there were other factors at play, traveling was the easy target.
I know now it wasn’t the separation from each other that caused the pain, but instead, the way we handled the separation.
Arguing to make it easier to be apart, attempting to talk constantly when we really should’ve been attempting to focus on where we were in the moment and refusing to accept the fact things just weren’t working anymore were all big mistakes.
I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson and that I understand the ways goodbyes work at this point.
But the other day, as I lay in bed with a guy I had just begun seeing four short months before my departure for New Zealand, I suddenly realized something.
I listened to him say, “What are we doing? You’re leaving.”
I realized I had gotten myself into a similar situation yet again.
I wanted to tell him he was wrong.
I knew how to do it this time. I knew how to say goodbye.
I wanted to tell him we had the potential to be something great, and on some level, I think he thought so, too.
I wanted to tell him we may as well jump, for the pure reason it feels good to fall.
But I didn’t. Instead, I watched him walk out the door.
What they don’t tell you about wanderlust is you are usually wandering away from people you care about.
If you’re always leaving, you’re always going to be leaving someone behind.
How do you ask someone to fall when you know the exact time you’ll hit the ground?
It’s tricky because time is always moving along, and whether you stay where you are or span the length of the globe, you’re moving along with it.
I can’t help my desire to travel. I can’t control my wanderlust.
If I have one life to live, I want to see all I can.
I want to live in big cities and explore small towns. I want to climb up mountains and swim in the depths of the sea.
I want to travel, but I still want to love.
I guess the only thing we wandering souls can do is live in the moment, live for the now and not think about the "when."
Take time as it comes, and enjoy each moment that comes with it.
Do not let the fear of saying goodbye hold you back from the life you are living.
We can remember people will always be leaving, moving away, traveling abroad and drifting apart.
If we let time hold us back from making connections with people, we might miss out on something more important than a rough goodbye.
Maybe we’ll find a person who is willing to stay in that present moment with us and who can enjoy being with us, even if it's for a limited amount of time.
Maybe we will have to accept our fate as hopeless wanderers and trust the world has something bigger in store for us.
If you're going to wander, you can’t be afraid of goodbyes. They are simply a part of life.
If you are going to leave, it’s important to remember goodbyes are only temporary.
On the off chance they aren’t, it’s probably for the best.
Saying goodbye is part of life, but it is how you say those goodbyes that matters.
The only thing you can really do is live the life you want to live and hope that one day, you'll find someone who will want to wander by your side.
Time continues to move along, just as the world continues to spin.
So for now, I will be happy.
If I am going to spend my time lusting after anything, it may as well be the whole wide world.