Today marks two weeks until I finish my last ever course in my undergrad. Tomorrow marks two weeks until when I leave for San Francisco, followed by a wide open summer that will see road trips to Vancouver Island, Washington, Alberta, and hopefully a trip to the U.K.
I’m on edge, counting down the days until I can leave. There is nothing I want more in the world right now that to fill a backpack, grab my camera, and head off on an adventure. I didn’t always feel this way about travel, though.
This time four years ago was my first ever trip away from home, which was a big deal for me at the time. I had crippling anxiety, and even leaving the house to go to the grocery store was a challenge some days. I’d only ever been maybe an hour or two away from home, and even then, it was only ever with family, and wasn’t a common occurrence.
This time, I was to take a trip down to Las Vegas with my then-boyfriend and his family. Driving nearly 2,000 km away from home when I’d never been more than an hour away was terrifying. Leading up to it, I was nervous, but held it together for the most part – until a week before the trip, when I had a breakdown. All the feelings of self-doubt and fear of the unknown I’d held in came bubbling up to the surface to come out in a mess of tears.
Luckily, I was talked through it and the next week left on the trip. It wasn’t what it could have been (I was still really nervous), but it was a giant step nonetheless. And, six months later, I took a trip to Disneyland with my family. Again, nerve-wracking, but not as bad as the first time.
Since then, I haven’t done much travelling (who has the time between work, volunteering, and full time university?), but something in me shifted. The stifling anxiety I once had abruptly changed, reducing it to a more than manageable level. And, every year since then, it’s slowly melted away until now, when all that’s left is.. peace. Silence. I wish I could tell you what caused it, but I have no idea. And frankly, I don’t care. It’s gone, and that’s what matters to me.
Now, I find myself looking at travel blogs, watching Youtube videos on how to make money while travelling, and scrolling excessively through WorkAway to see what kind of volunteer jobs I could get if I dropped everything and flew to Spain (or France, or Italy, or Chile) next week.
I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and I’ve been bitten hard. The itch to explore the world has been in me for a year, and not having the time to cater to it has made it grow. My desire to travel has grown so big that several times in the last semester, I’ve had to fight the urge to drop all my classes and buy the next plane ticket to Europe.
I still get anxious sometimes, a sharp pang in my stomach when I realize that I’ve forgotten an assignment due in a few days, when my car abruptly stops on the edge of a snowy highway, but not over going to the grocery store, or class, or talking to strangers, and never when I think about travel.
And I know this new found confidence will help me in travelling. I’m not longer afraid of the unknown – I’m drawn to it. The thought of throwing a few things in a backpack and hopping on a plane to the other side of the world makes me anxious, though in a different way – I’m anxious to go, to explore new places and meet new people.
Now, the only thing I’m afraid of is that I’ll never come back home.