“Wanderlust—a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.”
In a world where quarantine has become the new normal, and social distancing is the only way to interact, travel boards and browsing Google Images of foreign countries has become a form of escapism for me. Although traveling the world has always been a dream of mine, new border restrictions that have been placed in the last few months restricting travel have made me crave it that much more. When imagining my college experience, I always saw myself planning trips with friends and signing up for any and all travel opportunities, relishing the day I would finally be able to see the world beyond my childhood home. As a kid, I had many wonderful experiences: big birthday parties, hours of family games, friends with who I could endlessly laugh or cry with and so many more great memories.
However, as all kids do, I also had some very tough moments within my childhood, and it was during these times that I would feel the strongest sense of wanderlust— the desire to escape every chaotic thing going on in my life. This became my coping method when things in my life were tough, and it has persisted into being a large part of how I deal with challenging times now. My past dream of packing up and moving to a new country, learning the language and shedding my old existence in favor of a whole new identity has haunted me, particularly in these last few months. As the country went into lockdown and tensions rose, I broke out my travel journal and began to glue pictures printed off the Internet as my sanity depended on it—because, at times, it felt like it did. When chaos and disaster seemed most imminent while a global pandemic ensued, once again, wanderlust became my perfect escape.
However, as with all things used to escape the dullness of everyday life, I began to notice some unhealthy effects of my life-long (okay fine, just since like third grade) wanderlust. With this vision of a new life, I found myself questioning a lot about my life and allowing insecurity to come in. In comparison to the travel blogs and adventure Insta pages, I begin to find myself judging all aspects of my own life and feeling less satisfied with my achievements. Happiness and self-fulfillment became aspects of life that would only become possible once I had begun to travel and satisfy my intense wanderlust. Frustration and sadness were feelings I often felt as I scrolled past discounted trips and amazing group adventures that I still could not even imagine being able to afford. Escapism became imprisonment as I felt myself being shackled down by my feelings of being stuck and trapped by my fears that I would never be able to accomplish my desire to travel.
In the last few months, it has become so important to learn that amazing life experiences and adventures come from the way you choose to live your life and not the places you travel to. Hiking in the mountains, random day trips to the beach, discovering unknown art galleries and cafes and farmers markets. These are the new ways I am learning to cope with the unpredictability and stress currently surrounding all of our lives. Wanderlust, in my experience, is this amazing, deep desire to learn everything you can about the world and live your life to its absolute fullest. However, it only became a true source of enjoyment in my life when I stopped hypothetically planning to travel one day in the future and actually began challenging myself to act on my wanderlust— and I encourage you all to do the same!