When I decided to go travelling last summer, I was unsure of what the consequences would be upon my return to Amsterdam three months later. It’s easy to say just do it. Just go. Travel is what makes the world go round! YOLO, Carpe Diem and all that other cliche shit… but travelling for longer than your assigned holidays from work comes with an inevitable risk.
The risk for me involved pretty big REAL L-I-F-E things. Things like the possibility of losing my beautiful (and disgustingly cheap!) Amsterdam apartment. The effect the travels may or may not have on my relationship. The fact that I may not have a job when I came back. And, of course, the inescapable issue of money: was I going to have anything when I came back? Will I even have enough to support myself for three months travelling?! AM I GOING TO DIE OF STARVATION WHEN I COME BACK?
The pros of taking this trip, in my opinion, drastically outweighed the risk. But, really, I didn’t seriously take these risks into account. I live the philosophy that everything works itself out in the end. Of course you have to work to make it work, but in the end, everything is alright (and if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end… right?).
When I came back from travelling, my life in Amsterdam was nothing like it was before. I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks into the trip. I had to move out of aforementioned beautiful apartment in which I shared with him, and live on a friend’s sofa for a month while I frantically tried to find a new place in the increasingly sparse and unaffordable housing market of Amsterdam. My job – thankfully – was still waiting for me, but everything was different. My boss had left, and two new guys started. We had a new office, and my whole role seemed very different to what I was used to. I lost friends because of the disintegration of the relationship (as always happens, I guess…), and… well. Everything was just totally different.
Reflecting upon the changes in my life since my return, a friend asked me, “So, you still think that travelling was worth it?” Without even thinking, I answered: but of course it was! Nonetheless, it’s a question that has played on my mind since it was asked.
I mean, really, it hadn’t even crossed my mind for a second that it wasn’t worth it. The changes were changes that I could definitely deal with, if not a little overwhelming for a while. But it got me thinking: how would my life be right now if I’d decided that I was happy to just continue in my happy little Amsterdam bubble?
Well, in all honestly, it would probably be much the same as it was before. I’d still be in the same job, I’d probably still be in the same house, with the same boy, doing the same things, with the same friends. I would have stagnated. Change brings about reflection, and upon reflection, I was losing myself in that life. That steady, happy, Amsterdam life I was leading. It was great for a while, but I was due for a shake up.
This realisation reaffirmed my passion for travel. It’s the thing that makes my world go round. It’s where my mind wanders when it’s not occupied, it’s the thing that makes my heart beat faster, that makes me unequivocally happy, that has given me so much more than I could ever in a million years have expected it to. This sounds like a rose-tinted, sugar coated, banal view on travelling but, honestly, there’s no other way to describe it. I live and breathe for my next big – or small trip. The lead up, the aftermath, and the trip itself, it makes me feel alive.
So, the answer to my friend’s question? After a couple of months of mulling it over and taking into consideration the possibly detrimental consequences of skipping out on life for three months and backpacking around South America – it was still worth it. Even if my credit card is still attempting recovery from my endeavours, even if I miss living in my gorgeous little apartment, even if I sometimes miss the relationship I’d given my heart and soul to. It was worth it. Absolutely, positively, 100% worth it.
As the age-old quote from Robin Sharma says, don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. Whether that’s travel or something else that makes you happy. Life isn’t for working your arse off 9-5, praying the weekend will hurry up. It’s not for slouching around, letting your mind slowly rot away (thanks Netflix…). And it’s definitely not for waking up one day and realising that you’re old and bored and unsatisfied, and that you should have just gone and taken that bloody risk. So my advice? Just take the risk, goddammit.