Traveling carries the perception of invigorating joy and pleasure. It’s a fantasy of new exciting adventures, experiencing gorgeous scenery, and an unceasing wanderlust. Traveling is my oxygen. It revitalizes me. It’s inspiration. Some people hate flying. (I love it). They’re terrified of different cultures. (I crave it). Or, the unknown. (My dad likes to think that I don’t like uncertainty. To a degree, he’s right. But, this traveling enables me to master it more every day). The underlying motivation in my life is self-development and improving upon my weaknesses. Through that, I’ve learned to fine tune my instinct, and trust its guidance. Once my life became less about what others think I should do, I’ve found a sense of freedom, and a clearer path to accomplish my goals and ambitions. It’s become simple and easy.
This adventure would never have been possible without my bold move to Chicago. For anyone who is reading this and doesn’t know, I moved there without a job or knowing a single soul. I was alone. I learned to navigate a huge city by myself and find success. I overcame much inner turmoil, and developed the skills that are becoming extremely necessary to maintain my sanity on this journey. But, nothing can prepare you completely.
There was something unsatisfying about not being in constant French immersion. It guided me to leave my second hosts early, and go to Paris last minute to sort things out. Arriving Monday evening, and walking around all day Tuesday, I spent all day Wednesday doing absolutely NOTHING. I didn’t leave the place that I was staying. It was my first official day off in over 1.5 months of travels. I didn’t have to talk to anyone, see anyone, or do anything. The solitude was indescribable and shocking to my system. I could finally truly relax; all while my body and mind didn’t know how to cope with it. I felt numb. Total burn out. I went through waves of happiness and sadness, as the silence was long overdue. These are the moments of travel that people seldom share.
Traveling is exhausting. There are perks and downsides to every method. Staying with people requires seeing them throughout the day, being intermixed with their schedule, and communicating on a regular basis. Even though you have your own space to retreat unlike staying at hostels, you never have the novelty of a true “day off” when you travel long-term. Opting for hotels, there are still streets, restaurants, and modes of transportation bursting at the seams with people. As much as I enjoy spending a few days in a city on my own schedule, it’s lonely to walk the streets and be a tourist. I wish I could share this experience with someone, but at this point in my life, I’m 6+ years deep in singlehood. I thoroughly enjoy living with locals for a longer period of time. Going from city to city every few days, and endlessly wandering the streets is furious and exhausting.
On my way up to Paris, I emailed a few Parisian families about possibilities of staying long term for the immersion, and got an immediate response from one. I ended up meeting them and discussing the possibilities. But, without a working visa, I would drive myself crazy only 'working' 20 hours a week. Muddled with indecision, this journey has made me realize I am searching for something that I will never find. I'm at a mental impasse with my travels, and my thoughts are clouded to what I want, and where I want to go. For now, I'm abandoning the French immersion plan, and continuing with my schedule. The key to maintaining sanity is realizing that sometimes things happen for reasons you don't understand, and if anything, they propel you from one step to the next. Tumultuous and numbing as my mind may be currently, it’s still peaceful and calm and unaffected by the uncertainty created with the emotional burn out. Despite all things, there is nothing else I would rather be doing in my life right now than traveling and exploring limitless cultures and gaining new skills and experiences. Life is what you make it, and this will be one amazing story to remember :)