There’s an assumption that we’re running away from a difficult life experience having convinced ourselves that distancing ourselves from it geographically will somehow enable us to distance ourselves from it emotionally too.
I personally can’t see why anyone would think you need a messy divorce or similarly traumatising event to inspire you to explore new cultures and learn more about the world, which got me wondering why it’s such a common misconception.
I’m about to travel round South America for 7 months. Let’s look at my personal situation:
No serious relationship
I’m not married and it’s been a while since I was in a long-term relationship. The serial daters among you might think that this equates to me being lonely and miserable. Perhaps I’m jetting off to another continent to try my luck with a different nationality?
While I don’t deny I have a weakness for tanned, Spanish-accented Latino surfer types, I’m not lonely. I’m not travelling to find love, nor am I trying to ‘escape’ a life void of it. I’m glad that, at the time when it feels right to go and explore the world, I don’t need to break up with someone to make it happen. The fact that I’m single was a factor in my decision to leave only because it presented one fewer reason to feel tied down to my life in London.
I’ve been in the same job for over four years and, until recently, I loved it. If I hadn’t, believe me, I would have looked elsewhere. Over this time, my responsibilities have changed so much that my original role is unrecognisable, which has been fantastic for developing new skills. Having said that, I’m not a total mug. There’s been no recognition, in terms of career progression within the company, so now feels like the right time to move on.
I can see why it might appear like I’m running away from a dead-end job. From my perspective though, I’ve benefited from it all I can and I’m pleased that, at the time in my life when I feel compelled to travel, I can leave a good job without thinking I’ll ever regret it. When things at work started to go downhill, it felt like fate. Rather then disappointed, I was excited that all of the pieces of the travel jigsaw were falling into place.
Losing my mum
My mum was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer in her early 50s and she died in 2008. Obviously, this was an incredibly difficult time for me, but it has given me a more positive outlook on life and inspired me to do many things I wouldn’t have otherwise done. I threw myself into marathon training and, more recently, took my first solo trip abroad to spend a month volunteering in Tanzania.
Basically, if there was something I used to talk about doing, I’d actually get off my arse and make it happen. As a result, I’m infinitely happier than I was a few years ago. My next adventure in South America is the big dream I’d always had. Deep down I never used to think I’d have the guts to do it, but the thought of regretting not having gone scares me so much more.
I don’t think that people who travel after a loved one has died are doing so to avoid confronting reality. I think it’s because they’ve had a very personal reminder of the fragility of life. They feel sad that the person they lost might not have realised all of their dreams and they decide to put a plan into action to make sure they don’t make the same mistake.
So, despite what it may look like from my personal circumstances, I’m not running away at all. If anything, I’m running towards what I’m sure will be the most exhilarating 7 months of my life. I don’t doubt I’ll come home with treasured memories, increased self-confidence and resilience, and a diverse array of new friends from all over the world. This is a bail in not a bail out. I’m investing into making my life richer.
Why not join me…?!