16 June 2017

The gert mean social media machine 17.0617

The bits we haven't talked about...

Travelling almost non-stop for nearly 8 months has been many things; exciting, eye opening, jaw dropping, incredible. It's also been many things I wasn't expecting; boring, frustrating, repetitive, tiresome, exhausting. I want to put these parts into words for myself and perhaps others, because if there's one thing I've learnt over the past 8 months it's that social media is a great big warping monster that we're all guilty of feeding. I'll hold my hands up and say I've been no exception. As a people pleaser I suppose I've felt some kind of obligation to be having 'the time of my life', and to prove that's the case  by posting a regular stream of photographs of Dod and me enjoying ourselves. Just to set the record straight, these are not fake news. We were in fact enjoying ourselves in said photographs. However, I feel a new obligation to record the bits we haven't talked about. Just to reiterate, what follows is not to take away from all of the incredible experiences we've shared and recorded. I wish I could go back and be brave enough to integrate this so it doesn't seem so sudden, but here it is; a seemingly dull but I feel nonetheless important account of the bits we haven't talked about (rounded off with a big positive 'BUT' you can skip to if you really do want stick to 'the best bits')...

We initially chose to travel for an unlimited amount of time (funds permitting), which on one hand has given us a wonderful amount of freedom throughout the trip. But this time has also been a huge chip on my shoulder. Being a serial over-thinker and living without any real structure has been extremely difficult. Throwing myself into this blog has been my saviour, but that hasn't anywhere near filled enough time to restrain the monstrous void of thought. My anxiety levels have been through the roof for the best part of this trip, but nobody would know because it's just not instagramable. I'm not by any means saying this will happen to anyone who decides to travel for a long period of time, only to be wary that it's not all waterfalls, elephants and zip line experiences. Before we came away we were under the impression that it would be non-stop excitement all the time. The reality is very different. Firstly on a trip this long it's not affordable, and secondly despite being half way across the world you are still the same human being, and daily life still has its limits. To be on the go 24/7 is just as impossible as it is back home, yet I've felt immense guilt every time we've had a 'nothing' day or even just afternoon. We've also suffered slightly with 'same, same but different' syndrome. After the 100th Temple, museum or market it's very hard to stay motivated when visiting the sites. For me it provoked the question 'why am I still here?'. I came away predominantly to experience new things and challenge myself, however have more often than not felt as though I'm on a leisurely site seeing holiday. This in itself has made it very difficult to maintain a positive outlook on giving up jobs that we loved and being half the world away from my friends, family and everything going on back home - which if it wasn't for social media we would be none the wiser about. I've (over) thought thoroughly about how we could have done things differently, travelled for less time or worked more maybe. But I've come to the conclusion that although these components may have had a minor impact, the underlying issue is that our trip doesn't, and was never going to add up to the ridiculous expectations I had built up in my head. The expectations we built, and the subsequent pressure we placed on ourselves on the basis of social media coverage that obviously only shows the best bits.

Here's the big huge BUT...

Writing all this down has been a weight off my shoulders, but still has me feeling somewhat guilty, or spoilt. Though it helps to know from speaking to others that we're not the only ones to feel this way. Despite it all, we have absolutely no regrets in making the decision to save and come away. As I touched upon at the beginning, there have been some incredible highs that I hope are nonetheless valid through me writing this piece. We have also been enlightened and rounded ourselves in ways that aren't possible in the western world, so given the chance again I would 100% take it. And if it wasn't for the low bits inbetween, well I would never be sat here writing this - which feels equally important to me. 

Although we haven't had to overcome as many physical barriers as anticipated, our thirst for challenge has led us to look inwards and question the barriers we set ourselves every day. In doing so we've learnt the true value of asking these questions, and the liberation of rejecting what we don't believe in or what doesn't believe in us. I think the best way to describe the benefit is this: 

When you're attempting an important task, it's always best to take a step back and come back to it with fresh eyes. I suppose I feel like life is the mother of all tasks, and so it takes the mother of all step backs to come at with fresh eyes. You might find that you were doing just fine, or you might find that there are some things you could change, but the outcome isn't really what matters here. What matters is that those fresh eyes have allowed us to place trust in our own judgement of that all important question; am I doing the right thing? We can ask for help and listen to advice from others, but that search for verification, so over-complicated by our social media orientated generation, can only ever truly end in one place; within. 

1 comment:

  1. Lucy, that is one reason I personally hate social media - the obligation to be telling others you are having the time of your life. Quite obscene really and totally unrealistic, even if you are a millionaire. Money is nothing other than a pressure reliever. Experiencing the ups and downs of life is what life is all about, whether you are at home with friends and family or in another part of the world. What you have experienced will stay with you forever. I traveled a bit earlier in life and those times hold some of my strongest and most fondest memories. But like you say, it wasn't all a bed of roses. But then life isn't. Social media distorts it. You have given the reality in your FB posts and blog as well as highlighting the special times you've had. A perfect balance. Just as life should be. Safe journey home to you both. And looking forward to seeing you very, very soon. Take care my lovely. xxx