Are we actually travelers?
The dark and truthful side behind travel.
And here I am again, writing lines of text after a short period of absence.
If you follow me on social media, you will know that about three weeks ago I left for a month-long trip with the aim of volunteering and learning new skills, while visiting new places and taking my mind off things.
So off I went, and my first destination was a hostel in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.
Despite the initial excitement, however, it didn't take long for my negative emotions to sink in.
In the Netherlands it was quite cool by my standards, it rained most of the time, I didn't like the work I was doing and I couldn't really find any particular connection with the other volunteers. Despite trying hard to like it, I gave up and became convinced that the Netherlands was not for me and that maybe the destination was the problem.
Without thinking it through, I decided to leave the Country.
I took a flight to Barcelona taking advantage of a new job opportunity in a hostel in the Spanish city.
Within a few days, unexpectedly, I found myself catapulted into a new culture, a new land and a new language. With different people, different environments, different smells. Everything changed for the umpteenth time.
So in little more than two weeks I found myself having to leave three countries, saying goodbye to “old” friends in Italy, making new ones in Holland and having to say goodbye to them and then repeat the same in Spain.
"I am tired" – I thought a few days after landing in Spain.
"Is this what I really need? Am I really the traveler I thought I was?" – I asked myself.
The problem is not the destination
I began to realize the problem was not the destination but simply me.
I am always in constant search of change (as are most travelers), and I like traveling for that: because it breaks the routine and makes you discover new worlds and new realities.
I don't think I will ever stop liking it and yet, for the first time in my life, I had to come up against a reality I had never experienced before.
For the first time, I didn't simply feel the need to leave because everything was going as it should and I didn't feel the need to make any changes in my current situation, except for a few small ones.
However, I decided to leave anyway, convinced that just as travel had always changed me and opened me up to new opportunities, this time too would be the same.
What actually happened was exactly the opposite: traveling without feeling the need to do so opened my eyes and made me realize that there is no point in doing it if you cannot bring your mind down to the present, because you will keep letting your thoughts wander in a different reality and this will get you nowhere, except to suffer the here and now waiting for it to end.
Traveling is necessary
Traveling is necessary.
Ci fa crescere moralmente e personalmente come poche cose al mondo. Ci pone sfide da affrontare che saranno dure da affrontare, ci fa capire quanto siamo piccoli in questo grande e meraviglioso mondo e ci fa realizzare quanto le culture possano essere diverse tra loro e quanto importante sia apprezzarle.
It makes us know, makes us discover, makes us curious and opens our hearts and minds, because we realize that the world does not end at the edge of our garden.
So do people, who so countless continue to surprise us, and it is only by wandering that we can meet new and special connections that we would otherwise have missed.
All of this is extremely phenomenal and I am grateful that I have traveled so much and am still able to do so more and more but this month abroad has made me realize that travel is not the solution to everything.
That it doesn't matter where you are, but who you are with.
I had yet another confirmation that all that makes the difference are the people around us and not the landscapes. And that friends, family, relationships, are irreplaceable. E che gli amici, la famiglia, le relazioni, sono insostituibili.
"Maybe I'm just growing up?" – I asked myself.
Maybe I am simply beginning to appreciate the bonds of all time, the ones that are unbreakable, unavoidable, that you almost tend to take for granted. But taken for granted they are not, like nothing in this life.
I don't really know what the explanation is to the question "are we really travelers?" but I firmly believe that they are not the solution to our "problems" and "weaknesses" and I have simply realized it is only necessary to travel when we feel the need to do so and not because we believe it can be the answer to everything.
The greatest lesson
And perhaps the biggest thing I learnt from this experience is not to waste every single day of our lives, because it might be too late.
It had never happened to me before to leave a place early just because I didn't fit in there, yet in Holland I simply told myself that I would no longer allow myself to live mediocre days just because it was a few weeks.
No, there is only one life and the here and now no longer returns, so I left.
It was a real toast to freedom and the satisfaction of being able to decide what to do when I wanted to.
So keep traveling but do it responsibly and don't make it the solution to your problems because you will realize that it will only make you feel worse. Because you will miss your friends, family and relationships.
I am not afraid to say it: I am happy to be going back to Italy.
I need it and I am happy to be able to do it. Maybe I am not the true traveler I thought I was, but I am definitely free to decide when to do it without feeling pressure inside. I am simply myself.
Remember to love yourself consciously and not to waste a single second of your existence.
Have a good life!