At the time of writing this, I’ve just woken up on my first morning back home after 17 days in Colombia. As I went upstairs and made my coffee, looking out at the cold, gray backyard, I felt sorry for myself for the first time.
If you’ve kept up with my writing, you’ll know that I had just embarked on my second big backpacking trip through South America, and I was planning to be on the road for upwards of a year. Due to coronavirus, and the rapidly changing global situation, I made the decision to return home. I was able to book a cheap flight home, I never encountered any issues as I was making my way out of the country, and I’m lucky that as of right now I don’t know anyone that has been personally affected by the virus (other than financially, which is virtually everyone).
In the midst of the stress and uncertainty while abroad, I forced myself to stay positive. As I shared the news that I was coming home, friends and family apologized for my trip ending so early. I brushed it off saying that it could be far worse, which it could. People have lost jobs. People are facing extreme financial uncertainty. People have had to postpone weddings. People are helpless to assist their loved ones. People are dying by the thousands across the globe. How could I spend a single second feeling bad about my own situation? Cancelling a trip that the vast majority of people wouldn’t have ever been able to take in the first place? I still feel all of these things, and I know that I’ve been one of the lucky ones in this situation, but it still just sucks. And today I finally let myself wallow in that and grieve the loss of a trip I’ve worked so hard for.
But that’s one of the many things that traveling teaches you. How to react when things don’t go according to plan. How to remain resilient and optimistic. How to keep your head high and pull through it, knowing that one day it’s going to make a great story. It’s the bus rides from hell, the horrible hostels, the narrowly avoided injuries, the language barriers, and the difficult obstacles that make traveling different than a vacation or holiday. When someone embarks on a backpacking trip, especially solo, they know before they ever step foot on a plane that things are going to go awry. It’s unavoidable. Things are going to test your patience, and your grit. You’re going to need to be creative, and patient, and humble, and resourceful in order to get through the trip, and more importantly, to enjoy it.
It’s all of these things that make traveling so addicting and so life changing. And if you’re lucky, traveling will teach you how to respond in life when things don’t go according to plan.
So during this time at home, I’m committing to the following things to ward off the same post-trip depression I fell into last time:
- Movement. Walking the dogs, getting back on the yoga mat, making use of the dumbbell set I walk past every day. Just move my damn body.
- Writing. I’m committing to sharing some form of content every week. I always do better when I have a project in mind and something to keep me accountable.
- Nourishment: With this newfound free time, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my passion for cooking. Having worked in restaurants the past year, I haven’t really cooked for myself or given much thought to nutrition since I left Denver almost 15 months ago. I’m excited to share that with my family as well.
- Connection: I don’t want to just suffer through this period of self quarantine. I don’t want to stay glued to my phone or computer. I want to reconnect with my family. Play games, have real conversations, share meals, and be of service wherever possible.
So with that, good luck to everyone out there.
Stay safe, and keep others safe.
Stay sane. Stay positive. Stay grateful.