2014 was an odd year.
Even though I left home, spent time in 3 continents over 8 months, lived in a tree-house and almost died at least once, it didn’t feel that different…
Because I wasn’t.
Despite what the internet may tell you, travel is not magic. If you are sick, packing up and heading off to a Greek island will not cure you, neither will a working holiday in Thailand. If you have problems at home, travel isn’t going to resolve the tensions or financial woes. And if you’re hurting on the inside, if anything is wrong and needs fixing, the simple fact that you’ve gone travelling is not going to do a darn thing to fix that – it sucks, but the only person you can’t run away from is you.
Life has had it’s ups and downs, just like it does for everyone. Unfortunately, something in my personality made me take it personally. Depression, eating disorders, addictions – these are things I have been well acquainted with. Getting ‘better’ seems to have been slow progress with many setbacks, but becoming older, wiser (don’t look at me like that) and learning that with time comes healing has done amazing things to push progress ever onwards. You see, I think that’s one of the hardest parts of being young – we have yet to gain the assurance that time heals whatever is broken, whether it be the heart or mind.
2014 was a year of demolition, adventure, love, fear and joy. I found myself in the most beautiful places with the most sincere, authentic and happy people I could’ve hoped to have meet. I was blessed with support from my amazing family – whom I’m sure have turned completely grey- and love sent over 1000’s of miles from friends. I had a serendipitous swim with a turtle, danced by firelight to Turkish reggae and made a Pirate Bar my home. Yet I also wasted far too much – time, money, emotion. I found myself distracted and stressed, caught up in the old worries, the old insecurities and traps and triggers. I was lost and confused and found myself moving from one goal to the next… travel for years, be a writer, run a bar, make money… it led to an outpouring of anxiety in some unhealthy ways. There were times where I was so irresponsible that the simple fact I’m still around and typing this tells me that Someone is watching out for me big time.
2014 was a strenuous year. Physically I don’t think I’ve ever been injured as much by one place as that fucking Pirate Bar. Mentally put through my paces by bad personal experiences and arseholes who think it’s OK to push women around, being broke at least 4 times and and lost on the streets of London with no phone, keys or wallet- there were times where I felt the old crap sinking back into my brain, and even though I had the world to explore I spent entire days in bed. Because, well, I just felt trapped inside my own head. I spent NYE watching Glee, by myself. Yeah… I know.
But, you know what else?
2014 was amazing.
I have never been able to see myself so clearly before – I’m an introspective person by nature, but the alone time I had over these last few months has been like a spotlight on my psyche. I got a chance to dig right down and take a long, hard, uncomfortable look at why it is I do what I do. Especially the past three weeks. Just prior to New Years I lost my job in Soho, and from then until now I’ve had all the time in the world to think. Yes, I have DEFINITELY done far too much of it, but when I’ve managed to focus on aspects that will help me understand myself and grow it’s been like finding a flowing river of gold where I thought a nugget of silver might be.
Travel helped with that.
As I said before, swooping off to a place far away isn’t a magical fix for life. But travel can definitely be the catalyst for many wonderful (even though sometimes painful) changes. The individuals you chat to on the bus from Ankara to Antalya, the Greek communities that embrace you, the times you were insanely happy and the days you were incredibly sad – combine this with the challenge of living with new cultures, unfamiliar customs and even new stereotypes and you really get to ask yourself, “Who am I, and WHY am I like this?” Maybe even more importantly, “Why do I think like this?” – or as I like to say, “WTF is my past making me do now?”.
So, what does 2015 bring?
Last year I answered a lot of those questions. Even though I’m certain to be in for a lifetime of self discovery, I feel as if I’m definitely, finally, on the right track… and rather far along. So even though travel by itself isn’t enough to fix your life, it certainly provides you with the some of the opportunities to do so yourself. And this year, with even more expeditions ahead, I simply cannot wait until I get my hands on them.