Thoughts, travel

The Traveler’s Paradox – Am I Embracing Life Or Simply Trying to Escape It?

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Traveling for me has been, and still is, a way of learning about myself, meeting people, visiting new and interesting destinations, getting out of my comfort zone and, more than anything, providing endless and effortless stimulation.

At this very moment I’m sitting here on the side of a mountain, using a school bus as a makeshift apartment, listening to the comforting sounds of a small fire and my finger tips on my laptop’s keyboard. Judging by my Facebook and Instagram I don’t seem to have anything to worry about and, yes, I like to think of my life as carefree, although, it’s safe to say it’s far from that.

“What are you doing this for? Why don’t you just come home and get a real job?”

This was a recent question put forth to me by my sister and, look, I actually think this to be a fair question. I mean, when seeing my current situation through the eyes of anyone other than myself, it would be hard for even the tightest-lipped of people not to ask a few fundamental questions.

Just take a look at some of my credentials…

⦁ I’m 30
⦁ I have no car
⦁ I have no house
⦁ I have no ‘real’ job
⦁ Not a lot of money
⦁ I’m away from my long-time friends and family most of the year
⦁ No university degree
⦁ Everything I own fits into a decidedly smaller than average backpack

Jesus. This sounds terrible on paper if you are to compare it to what most people hope to have by the time they’re my age. My life is as seemingly unstable as you could possibly imagine, so I suppose it’s inevitable that I’m going to be faced with a few hard hitting questions from people who care about my general well-being and future.

When I first left Australia I can honestly say I had no idea what travel meant. At that point of my life I wasn’t trying to ‘escape’ anything in particular nor was I bored of my friends or family, I was simply wanting a new experience. This wasn’t my attempt at escaping anything per se, it was, however, my idea of adventure.

Let me put it to you like this. If I were to be particularly fond of carrots, yet all that I could find in my current part of the world were apples, would you blame me for wanting to find some carrots elsewhere. It’s not as if I have an absolute disdain for apples or anyone who prefers them, it’s just that carrots provide me with something that apples simply cannot. This is how I feel about travel.

I don’t travel to escape where I came from, I also never feel a sense of superiority because of some of the places I visit, I have just decided that normality is, for me, less than inspiring.

“Quit your job and travel the world… forever!”

Sounds pretty great, huh? Well, for the most part, it is, but I can’t help but feel as though it’s a little misleading. It takes a good amount of courage to drop everything and leave, but this isn’t a side of long-term travel that is shown to the public. Just like Facebook or any other social platform we have the privilege of cherry picking the best moments and putting them on the internet for everybody to see. After-all, who wants to see pictures of that time in Asia you had an aggressive case of diarrhea? No, thanks. Or that time you had all your bank cards stolen so you had to ask to borrow some money from a stranger. Awkward!

“When is it time to go home for good? Haven’t you got traveling out of your system yet?”

It is a very human characteristic to simplify feelings as something we need to get out of our systems before we get into adulthood. Unlike bad behaviour or enjoying birthdays, pursuing a life of perpetual travel isn’t something I figure i’ll ever grow out of. You see, the very thought of coming home to work a full time job isn’t what scares me, knowing the types of experiences I am potentially missing out on does.

Like most things in life, we make our choices out of fear or love, however just because we love something doesn’t necessarily mean we fear the opposite, we just have a preference for which experience we desire over another. I love travel, however I do not fear the reality of having to return home to what most people call ‘normal life’, I simply have a preference to be outside of my comfort zone, constantly challenging myself to learn and grow, completely void of monotony, focused on moving toward something and not away from anything else.

People sometimes struggle to understand why I feel the constant need to be exploring, why I am happy not knowing where I’ll be a year, a month or even a week from today, but as long as it makes me happy, I’ll never stop.

– Jarrod

11 Comments

  1. Hey Jarrod,

    Love this candid post about your self.
    Wish you good luck. Just be urself. You are still far better than many many people on this planet earth.

  2. Sometimes posts like this are manifestos; sometimes they are mere naval-gazing. Yours might be a bit in-between. I think you have to get over the cliches, everything from “quit your job and travel the world” to the “when are you going to get a real job”. Those statements/questions are where we all start, but I bet you are obviously beyond them now. What are the next questions on this mission?

  3. The question is: why does life have to be stereotypically defined? Some work, settle down and have kids, others dream, float, travel. Everyone has their own path, and its okay.

  4. Nilabh Ranjan

    yes, the post debate the valid points of traveler’s paradox, it’s individual choice how one take life and travel.

  5. This is why people are great, we all want to do different things and have different views. like this post thanks!

  6. Hey Jarrod,
    The most important thing is that you’re happy. You are brave enough to follow what you want in life, we don’t need to have everything to be happy! Wishing you all the best and luck! 😉

  7. I really appreciate your candor and self-reflection, Jarrod. It’s a breath of fresh air. I think we all go through similar feelings and your questions are familiar; we all have to find the answers for ourselves and I am glad you are on your way!

  8. Quite a thought provoking one this. And all of us have had these same existential thoughts at certain point during our travels. But I think there’ll be a day when our instinct tells us to let it go and/or settle down and that should be the day we do it. Until then I think I’ll keep walking

  9. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with being happy! Who cares about what your life looks like on paper. That doesn’t matter in the end. Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. This is such a great post! So honest and humorous at the same time! Thank you so much for sharing your experience – this lifestyle is definitely not for everyone, but as a traveler myself I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

  11. Thanks for sharing and being so frank. So many people don’t get how you can just let go and travel but maybe its because you aren’t really letting go of everything. You’re embracing what’s around you and most importantly you’re embracing yourself!

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