What Is Finding Yourself Whilst Travelling?

Why do you travel? Is it to influence, learn or to find yourself? If it’s the latter what is exactly “finding yourself?”

I’ve travelled to many countries and come across many forms of traveller. As you can imagine some perceive to themselves to be on a spiritual journey in order to learn about themselves to a greater extent or on a deeper meaning. Yet there are others who are just there to learn and have fun. Likewise, make fun of the ones “trying to find themselves”. To me, this has always troubled my thoughts, putting it into perspective and reflecting on why travel? 

But, what exactly is finding yourself?

If you’re wanting to find yourself I feel you need to put into question what incident/moment in your life has made you realise this? Could it be a divorce for example or a breakup? Similarly, could you have been made redundant? Or you’re simply just feeling low? You feel like you’ve lost connection and identity with yourself that you’re wanting to know again, hence travel is the best option. In a way, you’re using travel as a form of therapy to re-connect. Whilst most argue that it is a great way to heal, I disagree.

Just because you’re in a different environment, it does not make the problems back home completely disappear. At the end of the day, you have to return to them. Whilst a change of scenery, environment, culture is fantastic and a great learning experience, it’s just a distraction from your day to day norm. If you’re travelling to find yourself it could be a form of escape, if you’re finding yourself. 

How Do I Know?

How do I know? Because this has been me. Except I was in a five-year relationship that I didn’t have the certitude to end. I would use travelling as a form of fleeing. Arguably, travel also has given me the confidence and support to close that chapter in my life. Let me explain. 

First, I’d book any given flight I could to escape my problems back home and transport me from the burden of my relationship. This often didn’t work, as my then partner would book flights or onto the trips I’d selected. As I was a coward in a relationship, I couldn’t exactly say no or refuse his decision, could I? So I endured it. After all the difficult problems I’d experienced back in the United Kingdom, I would convince myself that this would be a wonderful opportunity to rekindle. Except it wasn’t. I felt it spoiled my experience travelling for the sake of the relationship. Yet, every time I’d convince myself that things would be ok. 

Second, the times I managed to travel alone made me realise what I wanted. How at the time how much I lived for solo travel due to the learning, experiences and environment. How I didn’t feel held back and had to consider the feelings of my then partner. When you’re in a relationship it should come naturally and at times perhaps miss your significant other. On my first solo trip to Japan, I discovered that I didn’t miss him. I knew something was wrong. But it took me two further years to have the confidence to make that decision and end the relationship. 

In Varanasi, forcing a smile.

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Travel= Escape

At the time, I was travelling as a form of escape and to seek happiness away from what I was experiencing back home. Whilst I did gain a sense of happiness on solo travels, I didn’t gain a sense of pleasure as a couple. Travelling became anticlimactic and monumental dreams of mine such as visiting the likes of the Taj Mahal, may have been slightly different if I didn’t have expectations of travel being the solution to fix my relationship. As when visiting destinations I’d dreamed of as a child, I constantly felt like it would have been better if I was solo. Likewise, the problems and burdens I faced back in the U.K. I still faced abroad. 

No Expectations

On a further note, I travelled to Nepal solo and ended up spending the longest amount of time I’d ever spent in a country. Which now has turned into me living here. Originally, whilst visiting as a solo traveller I wasn’t sure of myself. In fact, I felt completely detached as well as lost in a new culture, society and surroundings. My intention to travel was purely for the basis of learning and to educate myself about the others around me. This is what I did. My desire allowed me to study and start to understand a different culture. Which has led me to a love affair with Nepal.

An Additional Bonus

Yet, I wasn’t seeking this, it was simply a by-product of my experience. Perhaps, if I was seeking a love affair, a way to love food, culture or people, maybe I would have not found it? I may have set expectations too high, and strived to find a higher way to love just like happiness or finding yourself. This all came naturally.

So, what am I saying? 

If you’re seeking to find yourself whilst travelling. How do you know you’ve ‘found yourself’ when done? Likewise, what is it exactly that you’re seeking? Because, in all honesty, we are humans. We are an ever-evolving species and we don’t know ourselves truly.  So in a sense, how can we find ourselves if we’re constantly changing? If we set this bar to achieve, then we will forever be seeking to find ourselves. 

Appreciate Appreciate Appreciate…

Appreciate the world, appreciate your surroundings and most of all appreciate you. Don’t compare or compete for different standards. If you want to travel, do it for the love of the world and the love of learning. If you seek finding yourself you’re constantly striving to reach unlimited standards you can never attain. This will ruin the authenticity of your travel experience.

To this date of exploring what I have of the world, I have never met someone who has said: “I’ve now found myself.” Let your experience be natural and go with the flow. Don’t use it as a way out, as you’ll face those problems back home. Evaluate your reasons for travel and then go enjoy the world for what it truly is without any purpose to find a sense of enjoyment or in this instance, finding yourself.  

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