The Gap Year- The Aftermath of Travel

It’s been one whole year. One year since I’ve returned to the states, turning in from years of fragnmented nomadic life. Part of me still hasn’t accepted my new reality. I’ve implanted pieces of myself in the places I’ve loved. They call to me like a siren song. Come back. This is where you belong.

Complacent. Stagnant. Stuck. I knew that this place would consume me; tie me down and keep me prisoner. I knew it as soon as I booked that return flight home.

I’d grown accustomed to being a drifter. It’s when I felt the most at peace with myself. After leaving home, I never stayed in one place for very long. Wherever I happened to be, that was home now.

I tried to convince myself that this was all just temporary. I just had to sort out my shit, squash my legal issues, sell off all of my belongings, and return to the life I love; freefalling aimlessly without direction.

The life I long for, it’s not for everyone. It was a bit extremist. Void of any structure that once encased my comfort zone. But it was ideal. Complete freedom from obligation and responsibility. Complete freedom to do what I wanted, where I wanted, with whomever I wanted. You could say it was unrealistic, but I was doing it. And it was working. I was the happiest I’ve ever been, and probably the happiest I’ll ever be. But at least I had that time, ya know?

The real unrealistic aspect; my expectations of returning home.

3 months I told myself. 3 months to get it together, get it over with, and get gone. The initial plan was to shed all of my belongings, free myselt from all material ties and external obligations. I’d set out to New Zealand, peruse my way through Southeast Asia, and go from there. Three months to freedom.

One year later I now find myself in the exact opposite situation than what I’d anticipated. Instead of feeling weightless and free I feel grounded and buried.

The dream began to slip away. The crushing reality didn’t only take a huge toll on me, but on my long-distance relationship as well.

So long, love.

Some of you may have noticed that I quietly ended my relationship, keeping the breakup away from the prying eyes of social media. It was tragic. Not really something that I wanted to share with the world.

There are many reasons it didn’t work. The uncertaintly and unraveling of plans for the future at the forefront. It was nearly impossible for him to relate to me. I, being someone who was completely responsible for myself, weighed down with responsibilities, obligations and bullshit. He on the other hand had a cushy, coddled life with minimal obligations. I started to realize that we weren’t compatible in a real life situation. Especially not long distance. It should have been left as a holiday romance. But, at least we tried.

He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just drop everything and go travel with him instead. I began to resent him for his naivety and picture perfect home life. Knowing that it couldn’t last, I started to pull away.

It ended during his last trip to America. I’m going to gloss over the details, but let’s just say trust was an issue. That simply cannot stand in a long distance relationship. Any relationship for that matter. The toxicity began to seep in.

To preserve the last few shreds of what was once a beautiful thing, we decided to call it quits.

I came to terms with my new reality.

Everything started to change. I began to recognize the error in my aspirations for a “free” life. It just wasn’t realistic for my situation. I couldn’t keep passing through life aimlessly, with no goals or preparation for the future. I couldn’t just complete odd jobs to get by. Most of all, I didn’t want to sell my house simply to fund my travels. It seemed like such a waste. Besides,  I’m far too sentimental for that.

While the previous tenants were still living there, I’d stop by occasionally to grab mail or some of my belongings from my old bedroom.  Each time I would enter the threshold of my childhood home, (despite its horrific condition at the time) I was overcome with a sensation I hadn’t felt in years. A feeling that had become foreign to me. The feeling of being home. Truly home. In a place I knew and belonged. A new sense of obligation began to build up in me. I wanted to bring my home back to life. To make it mine again. To revive and retain that feeling I hadn’t realized I was missing.

Perhaps being grounded isn’t so bad.

I decided to commit to this new life by settling back into my old one. To make my aspirations a reality, I’d have to figure out how to stabilize myself enough to work remotely and have the financial freedom to travel.

This took a lot of trial and error. Over a year later and I’m still in the development process of it all.

I took a stab at IT work; my first attempt at a remote career. Coding seemed simple enough. I had the basics of it down during Myspace days when I would tweak my profile page. So I bought some books, enrolled in an online course and tried to teach myself. It was going well, but I realized I truly had no interest in this field long term. Characters and numbers meant nothing to me, did nothing for me. I enjoyed creating web designed, but I didn’t love it.

Thus began my voyage through various entrepreneurial endeavors.

I scheduled webinars nearly every day, filling notebooks with tips and advice from internet gurus. Virtual assistants, sales executives, drop shipping, Amazon niche stores, backlinking, affiliate marketing, sales funnels…whatever the kids are getting rich off on the internet these days, I looked into it.

“I could do this!” I’d always tell myself. But lose steam somewhere along the way. It just didn’t’ fit. Nothing did.

 

I started blogging in hopes that it would eventually go viral and bring in some income.

Although it didn’t quite work out that way; because I’m terribly inconsistent and can’t stick to one topic (clearly).  But it opened up opportunities that I didn’t realize were there.

It reignited my love for writing. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but have always kept private. A secret hobby meant only for me. But I realized that the skill I’d been searching for had been within me all along. Something I was passionate about that I could capitalize on, and eventually support myself from a remote platform.

So now it comes full circle.

Here I am, trying to realize my new dreams. Renovating my house with the help of my friends, nurturing my writing, working on a few books (I’m nearly done with one of them, yay!), and bartending to make quick cash and keep myself from being a complete recluse.

I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t bleed every time an old memory pops up, “On this Day” on Facebook, year before previous year stating that I was somewhere else. Somewhere exotic and exciting.  Anywhere but here. Living life to the fullest and taking in new experiences. Although that is not currently my reality, those days are not behind me, and many still lie ahead.

I’m still adjusting.

The mind fuck that comes along with settling back down into your old life after so much has changed is a bit overwhelming. Acclimating to routine, setting goals and sticking to them, revisiting the person you used to be before the world shaped you into someone new. Even though I was returning to familiarity, it felt a lot like starting over. Because I’m not the person I was when I left.

Some relationships remained the same. I reunited with some friends feeling like nothing at all had changed; but others now felt like strangers. We couldn’t relate to one another anymore. Time and distance had set us apart and I had to accept that.

I’m still not ready to settle down.

This is just a grounding period. A time to set myself up for the life I truly want. It took an awful lot of faltering, fucks ups and wasted time. Those internet gurus make it look so easy. Perhaps it was for them, but probably not. I’m glad I realized right away that I couldn’t follow in the footsteps of someone else’s path to success. I had to find my own.

Although I experience heart-wrenching FOMO as I fawn over the travels of friends I’ve met around the world, I haven’t given up on my own aspirations. It’s going to take some time, but eventually I’ll be back out there. Freefalling through life once again, but this time with somewhere to land.

 

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