It’s the end of the year, which means all of us bloggers are publishing our “year in review” style posts. Recapping the previous year is a good way to take stock of milestones, accomplishments, and failures (real or perceived). For travel bloggers, it’s usually a way to list off all the cool places we’ve been. I’m going to do this post a little differently, though.
I want to look back on 2017 and use it as a way to talk about a few things that have been on my mind all year.
At the start of the year, I was in New Zealand on a working holiday. On January 1, I was alone in Christchurch, trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do next. Do I stay in New Zealand another 3 months and get another job? Do I take my savings and travel around Southeast Asia as long as I can? Do I just go straight home and figure it out from there?
On the 23rd of January, 2017, I got on a plane and flew back home to Missouri, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.
*GASP* A TRAVEL BLOGGER WHO HAS BEEN SITTING AT HOME FOR ALMOST A YEAR?
Yes, it all seems like a big lie, doesn’t it? But I was determined to settle in so that I could truly focus on this blog, get caught up on all the posts I wanted to write, and just breathe for a moment. While I was stoked to keep writing about travel, I was ready for a break from actually traveling.
I did travel a bit in 2017, though. I took a couple of short trips close to home: a mid-south roadtrip plus a visit to Kansas City. I planned to travel more than that, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t want to.
Instead, I stuck around here in Missouri, got a part-time job to help with money while I spent time on this blog, and I stopped worrying about my next move. For a minute, anyways…
So, that should pretty much catch you up with where I am at the moment. Now on to a few things I’ve been thinking about a lot this past year.
On Being Home
Home has always been a tough concept for me. Yes, there’s this place where I grew up, where I spent most of my life, where my family lives—a place that I know. But this place has never felt like home. I grew up wanting nothing more than to leave. I never felt like I was my best self here, and it didn’t seem like that would ever change. So I left.
I came back, though, after years of being gone (off and on). I truly considered settling down here for the long haul. I thought I could just give in and call this “home” instead of constantly searching for where else that might be. I guess searching for my home is what I’ve been doing this whole time.
Traveling and moving around gave me the freedom to pick up and leave whenever things became boring—or really anytime I decided I was done with a place (or the people in it). I don’t think I need to explain to you why that was a problem.
I wanted to finally commit to just staying in one place. Not forever, but long enough that I would stop feeling restless. Long enough that I could learn to deal with the boring bits or the bits of life I didn’t like.
To be honest, I also wanted to see if perhaps everyone had been right all along: one day I’d grow tired of traveling, I’d get it “out of my system” if you will, and I’d be ready to “join the real world”. I’m still laughing at that part.
Being home has been really good for me. It has forced me to deal with the hard bits of life I don’t like. I’ve stood firm in my decision to stick around for a while, just to see if maybe I can be happy in this life. I do believe I’ve GROWN by forcing myself to stay put. I even feel a bit less restless.
However, I’ve also come to the harsh conclusion that living HERE in the place I’ve grown up isn’t the best place for me to call home. I was right in my thinking that I could never be my best self here. I need to live somewhere with more hustle, somewhere with more people, somewhere that isn’t quite so…traditional. I really want to be able to live here permanently so that I can be near my family, but I’m not at my happiest here no matter how hard I try.
I’ve also concluded that the travel itch will never leave my system and I will probably never join what most people consider to be “the real world”.
Perhaps I can settle into a home base somewhere else, but this home isn’t it.
On NOT Traveling
Traveling has always been my dream. Even when I was still in primary years, I imagined going on adventures around the world. Back then I envisioned the typical sites, like the Great Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, but I knew there was more to see than what was nearby.
Growing up, my travel dreams never left me. I changed my mind constantly about what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be. But traveling was always attached to whatever life goals I had.
When I FINALLY stopped making excuses and started traveling, my whole perspective on life changed. It became such an integral part of my identity. I wasn’t doing the typical round-the-world travels full of crazy adventures, but traveling slowly and moving to new places was the right pace for me.
Each place I lived felt like a separate life—looking back, each period of my life in the last few years is very much defined by where I was. And every time I left one place, it was to go to another and start over.
I wasn’t making big plans for the future, but as long as I was moving, I was happy.
So when traveling came to a halt at the start of the year so that I could return to the place I grew up, I definitely dealt with a bit of identity crisis. Who am I if I’m not traveling? What have I accomplished outside of traveling?
It was a hard thing to deal with. I spent a lot of time this past year thinking about how I wanted to live my life, and what I wanted to do outside of just going to new places. I needed a little bit more substance behind my travels.
I decided that NOT traveling was the best way for me to answer these questions. There were times when I wanted to pack up and leave because it seemed like the only way I would stop feeling lost and confused. But I didn’t want travel to just be a means of escape.
By not traveling this past year, I’ve had to learn to how to define myself without it. When people ask what I’m doing with my life (rather rudely, might I add), I can’t just say “well I’ve just been there and now I’m going here”. Because that’s not really an answer, is it? I’ve had to gain confidence in talking about what I’m doing right now and what I want to do in the future.
Most importantly, not traveling has given me a chance to recover from traveling. Sitting still has reminded me of all the things I love about traveling, and it has given me new motivation to keep doing it.
I have NO clue what’s in store for me in 2018. I’ve always been the type of person to follow my instincts, no matter how illogical my decisions may seem at the time.
For example, I just turned down a promotion at work. Who does that, right? But I know that’s not the direction I want to go in, so I can’t stray further from my ideal path just because there’s an easier path right in front of me. That seem stupid to some people, but I trust that I’ll be happier for it.
I know I want to get back to traveling after my little hiatus, though maybe not long-term. I want to see some new places and experience the joys of travel again.
Doubling down on this blog and getting back to my former consistency is super important to me in 2018. My job took me away from posting regularly the last couple of months, but that will change soon!
I might move to a new city, I might find another job I really love, or I might make some big moves in the freelancing world. Admittedly, things are still fuzzy and I can’t see past January, but I’m open to all options.
I won’t be making any New Year’s Resolutions, but I will commit to being better about commitment. And as always, I will continue to follow my instincts no matter how silly they seem.
So onto 2018 we go!