You discover the world, meet new people, try new things, fall in love and learn about new cultures – but then suddenly everything is over. Most people always talk about leaving, but what about returning from a journey?
Psychological purity of travel
You go on a journey and go through a psychological development that only fellow travelers can understand. You develop yourself, you try new things, you learn constantly and you are going to see the world from a different perspective. Traveling has its own rhythm. During the day you are busy with what you are doing at that moment and in the evening you look back with satisfaction on the previous day. At the same time you look ahead to what you are going to do the next day and you always know that you are going to do something that you have not done before or something that excites you. This rhythm gives traveling its psychological purity. Your brain is smoother, more open and quieter.
Ups and downs
However, there are also difficult sides to traveling itself: seeking for work, collecting money, making real friendships, staying safe, learning social norms, getting sick, etc. These are all things you get through. All these lows are immediately forgotten by the highlights that you experience while traveling. The highlights that change you as a person and make you realize that the busy life at home is not everything and that experiences are more important than possessions. It creates wonder/amazement. It is not only wonderful to be amazed, but it also creates psychological growth. Traveling forces our minds to rearrange our frame of reference, it shakes up our brains and keeps our minds flexible.
But then you come home, you spend the first 2 weeks with friends and family, tell your stories, make up for lost time and you show all your taken photos and videos. You are in the spotlight for the first few weeks and everything is exciting and new. Everyone is happy to see you and you are the tropical surprise that everyone at home is interested in. You feel happy to see all your loved ones again and are grateful that they are there. But then at some point … this all goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home and continues with the busy and “normal” life. You are no longer the new exciting object and the question fire starts: So what are you going to do now? When are you getting back to the normal life? When are you going to work again? What is your plan? How much money do you have left?
The hardest part of traveling
The hardest part is that once you’ve done all your visits to friends and family, you are back in your bedroom and realize nothing has changed. Everything is exactly as you left it. You are happy that everyone is happy and healthy, but part of you is screaming “don’t you understand how much I have changed?” And I don’t mean my clothes, hair or weight. I mean that what is going on in your head. The way your dreams have changed, the way you look at the world, you see people differently and your habits have changed, new things are now more important to you.
You want everyone to see this, you want to share it and discuss the things that you now see differently. But you find that there is no way to describe how your mind adjusts when you have to leave everything you know behind and use your brain’s full capacity to survive. You know that you think differently than everyone around you because you experience it every day. Your way of thinking is weird for them and they don’t understand were you are coming from.
Misunderstood and lost
You feel misunderstood and lost. What is the solution for this side of travel? It’s like learning a new language that nobody speaks around you, there’s no way to communicate and to tell people how you feel. This is why once you start traveling you just want to leave again. They call it “the travel bug”, but in reality it is coming home to a place where nobody speaks the same language. Not English, Dutch, Arabic or Spanish, but the language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, learn, and then come home to a place where you feel more alienated than in most foreign places that you have visited.
This is the hardest side of traveling, and it’s why we all leave again.
We do not travel to go anywhere. But to leave again.