Our lives are constantly changing as we grow older, gain life experiences, lose people close to us, and make changes. Those changes can be exciting, yet terrifying. Many people believe that your twenties are the best years of your life. Our bodies are still young and able and we no longer have the limitations we’re given as teenagers growing up in our parent’s homes, yet we don’t have the responsibilities that (most) people appoint themselves to once they come closer to their thirties or forties. But the scary part is that because we’re coming up on those “responsible” years, we feel pressured to find our niche in the world.
After college, most people go off to build a career-- ideally one in the field they studied (which may not always be realistic for many of us). Nevertheless, it is expected that we begin to build something. Many people work hard throughout college and in the first few years after just to be given a shot to work in their industry. It may not always pay top dollar, but they’re living their dreams of working in the industry they've always dreamt of in the city that they love so much.
And others who had different dreams, go out to travel the world. Everything starts off like the dream we expected it to be— riding on the back of a motorbike with a beautiful foreign man, beach hopping around the Mediterranean Sea, and making trusted friends from around the world. But there gets a point when instagramming your tan feet in the sand and crystal blue waters becomes no more than a show. You put out the image that you are having a fabulous time and are living your life to the fullest, but the truth is that after a while this fantasy life you’ve always dreamt eventually begins to lose it’s novelty. And when that happens, it’s important to recognize it.
It happens to some travelers quicker than others, but as a long term traveler, it is bound to happen. You WILL crash, but you have a choice of how it will happen; you can acknowledge that it’s coming and allow yourself to take a break or you can deny it and keep trekking on with the mindset that pushing yourself will help those it subside.
For me, I felt this crash several times. The first time I didn’t quite catch it before it caused an explosion, but I was able to bring myself back to my feet shortly after. The second time I caught it right before the fall and was able to carry on with my life after a few weeks of recuperating at home in a familiar spot. But the third crash was the hardest, it was the downfall of a great rein that I’d held on my life. And that crash caused earthquakes that could be felt all over the world, the epicenter being wherever I was.
Most of the time it is extremely difficult to predict it coming and looking back on it, it’s even hard to diagnose when and how it started. It’s all a domino effect with completely unrelated people and events just pushing each other until they reach you. When it gets to you, it will push you harder than you’ve ever been pushed in your life.
I would say that my latest crash came in last August when I went off to Europe for the last few weeks of summer. I had only been back home for three weeks after a four months stint of circumnavigating the globe from New York to California to Asia to Europe and back to New York, when I decided to go off again. In the third month of that trip I had reunited with one of the darkest forces in my life, which is an experience that I’m currently finding the courage to openly write about in another series of posts that all ties into this story. Part of me wants to believe that it was him and the effects of that relationship that caused me into this downwards spiral, but I cannot put all of the blame on him.
I arrived in Lisbon, Portugal at 4am after a 14 hour delay from Boston and two days of both waiting and traveling. Stupidly, I figured that because I was arriving in so late that I would be able to just sleep off the jet lag and then go out, explore, and start my five week trip off with a bang. But as anybody who has ever traveled through six time zones knows, that is not how it works. I spent the first three days in Portugal sleeping all day and staying up all night. After two nights at what we’d call a “party hostel”, I found myself feeling grumpy and antisocial, and headed off to the small, fairytale-like town of Sintra.
Here in Sintra I finally caught up on my sleep and gave myself an opportunity to explore a bit on my own without worrying the needs and wants of others (which is a compromise you tend to make often while going out with other people you meet along the way). Sintra was a magical little land full of castles and gardens that I figured would put me in a better mood and back to my buzzing, social self. Little did I know, that things would only get worse and I would spend the next five months intentionally isolating myself...
to be continued