Let’s get a little personal today.
I spent the past week in Toronto to attend the Navigate Media BlogHouse and my first-ever TBEX conference. I’ll definitely be writing about these more in depth, but for now, I’ll just say that I learned a ton and it’s going to take me a while to process everything.
What I really want to talk about is what being there to attend these things meant to me–personally. For a long time I’ve struggled with my desire to travel. I’ve tried to reconcile a life in which I work full-time, have relationships, have a home base (AKA, be “normal”) and a life in which I want nothing more than to go go go and see everything in the whole world. I have often felt misunderstood and have hated trying to explain my desire to travel. It’s strange to me that some people just don’t get it, when travel feels so innate to me.
Travel is such a visceral and emotional thing to me, and while most people assume that I’m running away from something, I feel like I’m running to something. I am happiest when I am traveling. Even with all the bullshit things that happen while you’re traveling–having things stolen, being sexually harassed, feeling confused, lost, lonely, whatever–it’s still when I’m happiest.
In September of last year, I ended a four-year relationship with somebody that I once thought I’d marry. Part of the reason was because things just weren’t great. But an even bigger part was because my desire to move out of the US and to travel was stronger than my love (and I realize how horrible that sounds now that it’s written down). I continued to live with him as his roommate until the beginning of May (as in last month), and while we weren’t together, I still relied heavily on him for a lot of things. For the four years that I was with him, I became pretty codependent–something that I recognized and hated, but couldn’t change. I’m telling you this because over the past few months, I’ve struggled to regain some semblance of the independence that I once held so dear.
When you travel with a partner for a few years, it’s easy to let them take the reigns. Toronto was my first real solo trip since that breakup. (I say real because I’ve traveled alone to other locations, but always with the intention of meeting up with friends or family–and while I knew I’d meet people on this trip, they were people I didn’t have established friendships with.) So in Toronto, I learned to find my footing again–How do I get around? How do I eat alone in a restaurant without feeling weird? How do I step out of my comfort zone to not only talk to, but relate to others? What I found was that it was much easier and a lot less scary than I’d expected.
Not only did I learn to feel comfortable with my independence again, but I got to meet so many amazing people. I can’t even describe how incredible it was to meet bloggers that I’ve admired and followed for years; to meet in person the people I’ve corresponded with on Twitter and Facebook for a year or so; and generally, to meet like-minded people. I didn’t once have to tell someone why I wanted to travel. Or why a particular place was appealing to me–because they already got it.
There were 1300 people at TBEX this year. That’s huge–1300 people who love travel as much as (or more than) I do! And it’s such an awesome community of people.
All of this is to basically say that I feel great. I feel re-energized and got the affirmation that I needed to feel like I am “normal”. I don’t need to fit someone else’s prescribed role of what my life should be. I feel like I’ve made the right decisions to set me on the path in life that I’m going to be happiest with, and that’s what matters to me most.
All images found on Pinterest.