It’s been close to month since I’ve last posted. I've been to ten countries in that time (Vatican City, Italy, San Marino, Slovenia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, Spain, and France) and it's been a blast. Tomorrow marks two months of travelling (23 countries in total!). So it seems like an appropriate time to get my shit together and write another post. When I set off on this adventure, I told myself I would be blogging every day.
That was obviously too ambitious. See I loved the idea of sitting down and writing every day, and sharing my experience with the world. I thought it would be therapeutic and meaningful to record my daily thoughts and adventures throughout this year of healing. And I have been writing every day. But as I have realised over the past few weeks, I first and foremost love writing for me. Writing for other people, writing for an audience or a grader (thank god I’m not in school anymore), takes some of the joy out of it. I have to filter the words I use and emotions I convey, and I get too caught up in creating this perfect product that I forget why I want to write in the first place. So taking these few weeks to focus on myself and writing for myself has been absolutely incredible.
I realised that I am a writer through and through (whether or not it's any good is completely subjective, but I don't care about that). There are few things I love as much as the rhythmic music my keys make as I transform the constantly spinning wheels of my brain into words, piecing together a story of some kind. It’s only when the pressure of doing it for someone else gets to me that I start to lose sight of that love. But writing just for me is empowering. I’ve been able to pour my heart and soul out into the keyboard without fear of judgement from others or questioning if it’s good enough. I’ve written thousands of words the past few weeks about everything from what I’ve been doing and feeling, to healing from my past traumas, to poetry, and so many other things. While a lot of it will likely remain personal, I think some of it might be the start of a book. Maybe, only time will tell.
I’ve also enjoyed the break from blogging because I’ve been able to spend more time doing other things. I’m a perfectionist and getting a blog post up to my standards takes time. Editing and uploading pictures, writing something worth wild, formatting, proofreading, and publishing is a lot to do every single day for a year. And there are so many things I want to do. So prioritisation was in order, and I decided I needed to start using my time wisely and focusing on things that I love and that fulfil me instead of doing something just for the sake of doing it. It's been awesome.
I’ve been able to read – FOR FUN - something I've missed terribly. Not just articles or books for school but novels and memoirs and poetry that I genuinely want to read for no other reason than I'm interested in discovering what someone had to say. I might have read the entire Harry Potter series in the past month, along with Life of Pi and 100 Days of Solitude, and it’s been magical. I've never been more thankful for my Kindle.
I impulsively bought a cheap ukulele and have been learning a few songs. I love music, and playing guitar throughout high school and college was always something I enjoyed when I got the chance. A guitar is a little too big to lug around whilst backpacking, so I thought a ukulele would be a good substitute and discovered that it is. I even took the leap to go out on the streets of Bordeaux to give busking a shot. I learned I need a lot more practice before I’ll do that again, but hey I got a couple euros, had a good time, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
I’ve gone hiking and have spent countless hours outdoors, enjoying the sun and this beautiful world. Nature is like therapy for me, allowing me time to think and reflect, learn and heal. Spending this much time outdoors has been so good for my soul. I even went paragliding above the Swiss Alps, a truly magical and surreal experience that I will never forget.
I've made new friends and met up with old friends (and family - I spent a few days in Barcelona with my aunt). I'm a weird mix of introverted and extroverted, and while it's important for me to have time to myself, I love getting to have real, deep conversations with people about topics that are relevant to the world around us. And I honestly haven't had many opportunities to do that since I left Bucknell (oh how I miss the Fran's House common room and Common Ground) until now.
But more than anything, I've gotten to see and experience some pretty amazing places (this is just a small preview).
The past few weeks haven’t been perfect. I’ve had a few too many nights of bad sleep on overnight buses. I’ve felt myself slipping into states of depression at points. I’ve had flashbacks and anxiety attacks. I’ve cried for no apparent reason. I’ve found myself not planning well enough, and having to splurge for a hotel room that is out of budget because nothing else was available (though a break from hostels was appreciated). I had money stolen and the weather has sucked at moments.
But those imperfections are part of life and part of travel. They have been outweighed and overshadowed by the laughter, healing, adventures, conversations, and other positive experiences I’ve had. I wouldn't trade any of those moments for anything because without them, I don't think I would appreciate the good as much and I would have nothing significant to learn from. Travel is a journey, and like any journey in life, it's going to be a mixed bag and that's okay.
But I do want my €10 back.