Conform to the Norm
Travelling can be somewhat obscure. We like to think we are channelling our inner hippy, by giving it all up for the backpacker life. Donning clip in dreadlocks, a mad pair of psychedelic pants and a lonely planet guide, we head off to South East Asia for Full Moon parties, bamboo tatts and buckets of piss, masquerading as whiskey. Once the obligatory 6 weeks are done, and Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia are ticked off, we head down under to settle in a compound of ethnically similar people, get a 9 to 5, and make sure we are indoors by 7pm to watch Home and Away. This is not what we signed up for, but somewhere down the track, we jumped on the bandwagon and have been hanging on tight ever since.
My experience is like so many others, except I was too impoverished to do the Asia part. All I could afford, was a lot of hope and a one way ticket from Dublin to Syndey. I will never change my journey. I sincerely believe that our life’s path happens exactly the way it is supposed to. We are the makers of our own destiny and all those other cliché sayings, and I made my choices, because at the time they were the right things for me to do. Now settled in the Northern Territory, I find myself constantly reviving memories of my beginnings in Australia, and the euphoria I felt every time I did something that was so foreign in comparison to my old life. Little things, like going to the beach on a Saturday and seeing the Opera house for the first time were events that will be forever treasured. Eventually though, that life buzz started to fade and I began to get itchy feet. Perhaps I was premature in my boredom; I am a commitment phobe by nature; if I could have been born an inanimate object, it would have been a balloon so I could float away. I am a loner in the least weird sense, so if there was no job and boyfriend, I would happily pack a bag, ditch the phone and get lost in the world.
I left Sydney because things were perfect there. As strange as it sounds, I knew that my experience couldn’t get any better and I needed to leave before its panache in my brain became tarnished. One for the worry, I envisaged becoming bored, bitter and resentful so I took myself off to Darwin and have been here ever since. I am exiting my twenties next year and fight a constant battle between conforming to social norms and daydreaming about backpacking in South America – because that’s not cliché at all is it J
Moving to Darwin once again ignited that fire within me, the one that all natural born travellers have. It is a whole new world in the Northern Territory, with a landscape that is incredibly unique. The people here are quite unique too, which can be a good or bad thing. I began to feel that adrenaline again, that wonderful feeling when the world appears exciting. With 2 and half years in Darwin under my belt, I have started to get ants in my pants again. Due to visa restrictions, I have to suffer through the itchy jocks as we are obligated to remain here for another year. I did reflect however on the measures that can be implemented to cure my wanderlust in the meantime. This period of intense soul searching (I probably gave it about 10 minutes), taught me that I probably don’t have to move thousands of kilometres every time life gets stale, as I did when I left Sydney. I left Sydney so unexplored to find something fresh. There was nothing wrong my surroundings; it was my mind state. I went with the flow and didn’t stay true to myself. I waited for other people to do things I was interested in. Realising this has certainly revived my outlook on travel. Travel is whatever you want it to be, as long it heralds new experiences and knowledge.
My words of advice for anyone that goes travelling is to do what they want to do. I followed this mantra at the start but got lost somewhere in the middle. I originally was supposed to travel with a friend but they couldn’t commit so I made the decision to go it alone. I will be forever proud that I did this and believe in hindsight that it is the way my journey was supposed to be. I have learned that I do not have to be constantly packing a bag and moving to embody all that travel is. However, I do know that a fierce sense of independence is necessary. One’s path in life is exactly as it should be because of their choices; and no –one else’s. If you do not divert off the course that everyone is taking because you are scared, you are not in control. And nothing will change. Wherever you choose to travel, or settle for that matter, think about seeking out new experiences, new people, even a new way of just getting to work. While I look back at all of my travels with fondness, my only regret is that I wasn’t braver at times. There were occasions when I didn’t try a new restaurant or go to an aquarium because I had no one to go with me. I should have gone myself. I know this now; I implement this into my life and this for me is the fundamental purpose of a traveller – chasing new experiences for themselves. And no-one else.