No matter where we are, the pandemic has deeply impacted every molecule, being, person, you name it. Some have been hit harder than others. Some can barely stay afloat amidst growing stressors and responsibilities. Others are benefiting from slowing down and a moment to catch their breath after too long on the busyness treadmill. Or maybe you’re experiencing a dull sense of boredom – that’s where I’m at.
It’s been almost 17 months since I last opened my MacBook to let my stream of consciousness flow. 17 months since I felt called to empty some thoughts across a piece of virtual paper so I could open up some space in my crowded mind.
As I reflect on the travels that led me to 25+ countries (solo, with a tent, with a good friend, you name it) I feel a longing that only comes when I can’t do something. The kind of wanting that an errant teenager gets when she wants to stay out past 10PM and then wants it even more when her parents say it’s out of the question.
I used to talk about my travels as the most thrilling, inspiring, spirited, and even instructive times of my life. Certainly as educational as college (sorry, Mom!). But reflecting back on almost a year of quarantine, I now think of the pandemic as similarly life-changing. I’d even say the past year held more reflection and self-inquiry.
I’ve learned more about myself in the past 12 months than in my 22 years. Not because I was hitchhiking, trying Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice for the first time, or hiking my way up a glacier in New Zealand. But because I was forced to stop. To think. To write. And frankly, there was nothing to do but be alone with my thoughts. And I don’t want to romanticize or simplify – I saw more boredom and emotional reckoning during this time too.
This is all to say that my travels taught me so much about what it means to be an independent person. A fearless 19 year old discovering herself, while not quite realizing how much energy she spends running from herself. Don’t get me wrong – when it’s safe, I’ll still be the first person on that plane someplace new.
But for now, I’ll stay here and learn something. Because staying put, planting seeds, putting down roots, and figuring out what’s going on in here is a whole other ball game of a journey.
More later & much love,