Like many millennials, I love to travel. I have a deep passion for passports, enjoying bowls of authentic pasta, and hopping on planes even if I'm going to be on them for a while. If you asked me to chat about the dreamy destinations and beautiful cities I've been to, I would in a heartbeat. I thoroughly enjoy talking about the islands off the coast of Croatia, the waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, and the fashion shows I've gone to with my best friend in Milan. But unlike the bloggers I follow and the travelers who are currently packing their suitcases, my itinerary is pretty blank. TBH, I haven't traveled a lot this year and I'm totally OK with it.
I know what you're thinking, and it's shocking to me, too. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that, one day, I'd be perfectly comfortable and content with having zero international trips in the books or watching other people travel the world while I chill at home. I thought I'd be roaming around the national parks, checking items off my bucket list in Europe, and preaching a new version of #adulting like the writers who work on the road.
Turns out, I was wrong — and happily so. Sure, traveling brings amazing adventures into your life. It lets you fall in love with the planet we live on, and stretches your heart, imagination, and comfort zone farther than you could ever believe. It's a unique experience, and one I'll gladly jump into over and over again — I promise you that. But I've also found the beauty in not traveling, slowing down for a little bit, and taking a deep breath wherever you are. Let's get into that, shall we?
It all started on, what I think was, a Saturday afternoon. I was watching a couple of vlogs from my favorite influencers. In their videos, they were both catching up their following on the latest things going on in their lives and what they had planned for the year. To my surprise, they both mentioned they weren't going to be traveling as much. *Cue the gasps.*
I thought, "I don't blame them. They must be exhausted." I mean, it seems like they were packing their suitcases and rushing to the airport all the time. I knew that routine on a much smaller scale, and let me tell you — even going on a simple and spontaneous weekend trip can be very tiring. Their decision to stay at home more and live life to the fullest where they are began to make sense, and then it serendipitously happened in my life, too.
As the months went on, my focus began to turn to my friends, my finances, and my fun-filled and loving relationship. I moved out of my parents' place, learned that apartments don't come with anything (not even the hooks to hang your keys by the door), and took my #adulting to the next level (I'm talking meal-prepping and exploring the aisles of Trader Joe's here). I started reading Michelle Obama's memoir, Becoming, laughed a lot, and took a much-needed deep breath.
Truth is, when I was traveling a lot, I got into the habit of living life way too fast. I got into the mindset that there wasn't any beauty in the ordinary things, and that sipping coffee was better done in a café on the other side of the world, rather than simply at a kitchen table at home. Now, I'm finding that's not true at all — and balance is everything.
Here's the thing I've learned about slowing down and finding balance: Everything in life gets better. You may appreciate the moments when you're waking up in your city as much as the life-altering excursions, like hiking the green cliff-sides of Cinque Terre. You might meet new people who add things to your bucket list and inspire you to take a different route to your dreams.
Most importantly, you challenge the thought rushing through your head that says you don't have time. Spoiler alert: You do. Yes, it may be easier to do everything you've ever wanted when you're always on-the-go, but slowing down teaches you the valuable lesson that living isn't always doing. It's loving, tasting, crying, touching, seeing, listening, and being present in every single moment. It's feeling your heart race, your mind click, and your eyes grow wide with awe.
In my opinion, slow and steady really does win the race, because it brings you balance. It makes you realize you should be loving the life you live, whether that be somewhere else with a passport, camera, and carry-on bag in your hands, or wherever you are. Once you learn and live that lesson, you're golden.
Aside from learning how to slow down and find balance, I've learned a few other lessons this year, while I've been taking an unexpected break from traveling. I've learned that "adulting" really isn't that bad when you give yourself the chance to do it. I've learned that I have a lot of dreams outside of seeing the world, and that passion and motivation are two entirely different things. (That's for another article.)
I've also learned that a huge part of being passionate about something is taking a step back from it. That gives you the space to see why it's your passion, and appreciate it more. There's no doubt I'll hop on a plane, have international trips in my itinerary, and travel again — and possibly soon. There's too much of the world I still want to experience and see. But for now, I'm OK. I'm more than OK. I'm loving the life I live, no matter where I live it. What more could you ask for?