I’m Not Traveling To Find Myself

If you’re here to get some low-blow giggles about the awkwardly simultaneous ubiquity and elitism of study abroad, you’ve come to the wrong place. I did the study abroad thing many years ago and I regret to inform you that I, too, returned with many of the same delusions as do thousands of other college students each year. I felt renewed in my adult identity, cultured, and well traveled. I thought — surely, blissfully — that this was what I was meant to be doing and where I was meant to be. I was, to be frank, living… before it was even a thing to use that phrase ironically.

Several years out of college, though, I plan my own travels, book my own accommodations, and detail my own itineraries without the help of my honors college professors. I’m not searching for purpose or the meaning of life or Instagram likes. And I sure as hell am not looking for my late-20-something-year-old self. I’m running away from her. For years, I’ve inhaled poetic stories of wanderlust written by those who travel to find themselves, but this is not that story. I’m not traveling to find myself. I’m traveling to lose myself and I’ll run as far as my passport will take me.

I count down the days to my next trip like a sugared-up kid waiting for Santa on Dec. 25. I couldn’t tell you which I enjoy more — the trips themselves or the daily comfort I get from knowing that, at least, I have some general life trajectory for the near future. I can tell you that it doesn’t matter where I go; it never does, as long as I can, if only for a few days, fill the emptiness of my days life with something novel.

A privileged position to be in, sure, after years of studying and working in east coast cities like Miami, Boston, and New York City. Back on the island now, with a new home base (the base I’d run to for the first 17 years of my life), that work seems like a faint and distant memory and what’s left behind is a darker void than I’ve ever known.

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So I run. I walk. I fly. My fear of mediocrity has morphed into a fear of stagnation. Too much time between trips means too much time to drown in the silence. It’s easy to drown when you’re surrounded by water. It’s easy, too — if only for right now — to look for higher ground.

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