Note: DnB fan? Listen to this song while reading this blog for extra emotion.
I first started travelling on January 1st, 2014. It was the first time that I had ever left Canada, alone. It was exciting and a bit scary, but I knew that it was the best decision I had ever made in my entire life. Since moving abroad, I have learned a lot about myself, gained confidence that I didn’t even know I needed, got hurt multiple times, started learning another language, and met some of the most amazing people in my life. It’s easy to talk about how good travelling is (and believe me, it is), but there are some downsides that, for the second time in my life, I am starting to recognize and remember.
It sucks to say goodbye.
It really does. It really, really sucks. You build relationships with people who you connect with on a level you never believed was possible before. You’re absolutely grateful to meet them and you learn a lot from them. Then, before you realize the potential of it, you’re gone. Your time together becomes limited by the expiration date of your visa and before you know it, you have to pack up and leave. You have to understand though, that time constraint is what causes the relationship to develop so quickly in the first place. You don’t talk about it actively, but there is an undercurrent of understanding that you should do as many things as you can together, before your time is up. It’s almost poetic, but it still really sucks.
You will not, or cannot settle.
The more you travel, the more you don’t know. Your hunger for knowledge increases. You want to try more food, meet more people, see more places, do more things. It’s an addiction. People pride themselves on the amount of countries they’ve visited, not because of the sheer number, but because of the amount of experiences that they can recount. It certainly makes for great storytelling.
This becomes more difficult as you continue. Because you’re not settling, you find yourself wandering more and more….and more. It brings up questions that might have been easier to be ignorant of:
“Am I studying the right thing?”
“Do I really want to move back home?”
“Am I dating the right person?”
This brings you to the second area. You can’t settle without jumping through a lot of hoops. What if you meet your soulmate (or soupmate), but they’re from another country? It’s not impossible to build something with them, as I have seen time and time again. There is no argument that it’s a walk in the park though. One of you, ideally, has to move. You may have to go through a lot of paperwork, or have to learn the language of their country. It’s one barrier after another. Not impossible, but it doesn’t make things easier.
It can cost a lot.
Travel blogs everywhere like to mention that you should visit as many countries as you can, and see as many things as possible. Financially speaking, this can be difficult. I was super lucky to have a job when I lived in Sweden, and luckier to be paid an easily livable wage while living in Belgium, but that doesn’t make it easy for the others. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big problem, especially if you save up enough money and budget properly for your adventures. If the first two points apply though, it begins to become a limitation.
For example, most of my really good friends live in Europe. Being a Canadian, it becomes a barrier to entry to travel back and forth between Europe and Canada. It’s definitely not impossible, but it doesn’t make it easier.
Why I recommend travelling, regardless.
These downsides do not negate the upsides. In fact, they are simply consequences of the upsides. As I am now in my final month of living in Belgium, it is my second time living abroad and my second time saying goodbye. I’ve learned a lot of things while being here, and as Mark Manson said once:
There are a lot of things that I learned about myself this time around that I wasn’t ready to learn. But I learned. I learned and I won’t forget. When I leave, there will be more things that I will learn, and many things that I will have missed out on learning. There are lessons I will learn about myself that will hit me when I live in my next destination.
And that’s the point.
I’m a better person than I have ever been. And while it sucks to say goodbye, I know that those goodbyes will teach me not to settle. My boundaries are being built, and I am more accepting and less accepting at the same time. I’m beginning to understand my own worth, and I am being more selective of who I spend my time with.
The people that I have met on my travels, and the experiences that I had have given me a new standard of what I expect out of myself, the people around me, and the way I choose to build my life.
There’s no going back.