The past month has been a whirlwind – both in good and bad ways. I’ve learned a lot about myself and have been challenged in ways I never anticipated. It’s been filled with a lot of fun memories – from riding a tank in Belarus and touring an underground winery in Moldova to wandering the snowy streets of Bulgaria in search of kebab and admiring the creatures of the depths on a submarine in the Maldives. It’s also been filled with some not so good memories. There have been countless moments where I actually had Google Flights pulled up on my computer looking for flights home. There have been days when I didn’t leave my hostel or interact with anyone. But I made the decision and found the will to push through that, and now I’m sitting outside on the cool “winter” evening in Bengaluru with a group of new friends, thankful that I did because I wouldn’t trade this moment for the world.
I think we often feel a need to focus solely on the good and create this mentality of “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” And for certain moments, like right now as I type this, that attitude absolutely fits. But the reality is that nothing is perfect, and with long term travel there are inevitably going to be moments you wish you could trade in. Even if the shitty moments taught you something or have some kind of silver lining, we can still wish they didn’t happen. Sometimes life sucks and we would give anything to change that one moment, and travel isn’t excluded from that. It isn’t some utopian world of sunsets, castles, beaches, and safaris. Sometimes you stay up all night because your flight schedule is wonky or sometimes a creepy and inappropriate man crosses the line. Sometimes mental illness gets the best of you and you end up staying in bed all day or sometimes you get ripped off by a taxi driver or miss you train or any other number of things that go wrong when backpacking.
The bad doesn’t mean the overall experience isn’t worth it. But it’s okay to wish the bad could change. The moments you wouldn’t trade for the world don’t erase the moments you would trade the world to change and vice versa. You don’t have to find the silver lining of everything. Sometimes there isn’t one even the most optimistic person the planet could find. I’ve had some of those moments in the past month. Even when there is a silver lining, that doesn’t have to mean you have to pay it any attention. Take time to wallow in the bad, but – if you’re able – always get back up and don’t let it stop you. You can’t change the past, but you can grieve it nonetheless.
I’m still angry and hurt by some of the events of the past few weeks. I probably will be for a while. I’m also still riding a high from the wonderful moments, memories, and friends made from the past month. Learning to accept the simultaneity of the good and the bad is a challenge, but it’s helped me keep moving.