People often explain the way travel enriches your life. This fact is clear and bold: you will meet people and experiences that heal, shape, and inspire you when you embrace the world's differences. At the same time, you will learn things about yourself that had been dormant prior to leaving home. When you allow yourself to be open to new experiences, you will feel like your life is longer and fuller; you will feel alive.
While the vibrancy of travel is no secret, the post-travel depression that follows can surge like a typhoon. Much like a junkie going through withdrawal, you will feel parts of yourself draining when you return into the cycles you once walked away from.
For me, this sadness weighed down my bones and kept me in bed for days at a time. Returning ‘home’ put a massive time zone between me and my most cherished relationships, reintroduced me to a culture that I don’t feel overly welcomed or comfortable within, and presented cycles and circumstances that left me feeling exhausted and belittled. When I returned to life as I knew it, I felt everything that I had tried to leave behind.
This does not have to be the end of the progress made while abroad. Determined to maintain the joy I found, I began sifting through the memories that brought me so much joy when I remembered something important to healing my post-travel depression.
When living in Northern England, I met an empath from Cyprus with a spirit just as beautiful as her intelligence. Among the many late-night conversations that we shared in a place foreign to both of us, she said something to me that has never left my conscious. Under the moon, over a crate of fresh strawberries, she looked me in the eye and assured me that,
“in life, we never go backward; we do not return to people or places. My friend, in our lives we are always directed forwards as people who have grown in time and space. We are led to every place we must visit.”
After spending weeks letting this statement ruminate, I realized that this is one of the most reassuring things that I have heard in my little life. Every bit of momentum we gather in our lives brings us to a place where we enter, equipped with everything we have experienced, ready to introduce ourselves as who we are in that exact moment. Should you happen to find yourself in a place that you have walked previously with people whom you’ve met earlier in life, remember that you are there as a person with lived moments foreign to the person you were the last time.
You are a collection of everything you have lived through. How you choose to use your lessons and your lived moments is entirely up to you. Those who deconstruct your progress or question your authenticity in the molding of your own soul do not need walking room on your individual path. You will not disintegrate into the mournings of your travels — your footprints remain even after you move forward.