Well it’s been over two months and my world has been turned upside down. I had this image for my future when I left, and now it’s like a tree with each branch being a different possibility. There’s something freeing about the uncertainty of it all, though. During the first month and a half, we were constantly moving. I was enjoying myself and loving my travels, but I felt like long term travel maybe wasn’t for me. I looked forward to the rest of my trip, and thought that I’d be happy coming back and diving into the standard American dream: a home, a relationship, a career, kids. I thought that the time frame for my twenties supported that. The sights I had been seeing were unmatched, the people I met were interesting and I had some wonderful conversations, but I still felt everything was fleeting and didn’t really have a leg to stand on due to so much constant change. I had spent two weeks on the beaches and was ready for the next adventure. Once I reached India, everything changed. I wasn’t having an existential crisis any longer. I felt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing at that moment. The constant inner dialogue of, “What do I want? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” subsided while I was there. I felt self-assured for the first time in a long time. The timeline I was working with for my future seemed much too rushed. I realized the value of my youth and how important it is for me to learn as much as I possibly can about the world right now. The biggest tests for me during this month were adapting to the changes in my mentality and dealing with the heartbreak of leaving people and wonderful places.
Delhi was absolute insanity. Imagine a Where’s Waldo picture, except everything is moving, half the people are cows, and all you hear is horns blaring. The energy was so refreshing after the sleepy beach vibes of the few weeks prior. Having been prepped with third world before heading to India, I think we were saved some of the initial shock that goes along with India. I felt my soul stimulated in India. Up until this point in my life, I had never met so many wonderful people in such a short amount of time, westerners and locals alike. I felt so welcomed. Although I know most of the attention was just due to having fair skin in a place where tourism is still pretty minimal, it still made me happy to have so many people smile at me, shake my hand, and want to take a picture with me. I felt confident there. I felt full. The vanity of my youth was being recognized, and I am not ashamed to say that I soaked it all in. I liked getting lost in the streets and riding in the local class on the train. India was the first place where I really got to spend some significant time in a city and connect with people on a deeper level.
It was nice to see people more than once. The usual trip related questions weren’t the only form of conversation anymore. I developed real friendships with people. I could sit around in a room having a good conversation. I was learning about the cultures in a much more significant manner than taking a few pictures of landmarks or lying on a beach all day. I was finally working towards my goal of focusing on the people during my travels. My sense of purpose in the trip had been restored, and I really started feeling whole. The comforts of home were fleeting quickly. I panicked and wondered how I could possibly return to my job, my apartment, my small world back home. I wanted to wipe the itinerary clean and spend the rest of my time just in India. The culture was intoxicating and addicting, and I was already starting to despair about having to leave. I was surprised how the country that I was most terrified to visit, ended up being the one place I felt like I couldn’t ever imagine leaving.
As it came closer to leaving for Nepal, I began to become excited for that. I knew it would be beautiful there. I reasoned with myself that I couldn’t just hit the pause button on my trip. I reminded myself that as long as I have a passion for traveling, I’ll make it happen, so returning to India wouldn’t be a problem. My heart broke a little bit every time I had to leave a wonderful person that I met in india, but I knew if the connection was strong enough, it wasn’t the end, and now I had new places to visit because of these people.
Fast forward to now, and I’m still feeling the nostalgia of India. So many good things happened to me there. I really want to ensure that I keep that positive energy around me. I catch myself lost in my head thinking negative thoughts and have to remind myself to be positive. I’ll ask myself, “Am I being grateful and positive today? Am I putting the good energy out that I want to get back? If I start thinking negative thoughts, is it going to catch back up to me?” Everyday I’m really trying to keep my attitude in check. When something is difficult or trying, I repeat the mantra, “could be worse”. There’s been some times where it didn’t seem like it could have been MUCH worse, but it was still manageable. That has been helping me to remain happy. For the upcoming months, I’ve developed a new goal to deal with my new challenges. The goal for this month is being present. I now have to start to accept the inevitability that people I meet on this trip and I will have to part ways, and that I have to keep moving forward. Each new place will have its own beauty and its own set of delightful people to interact with. I will work on being present and happy in the moment and avoid letting myself become melancholy with the knowledge that I have to leave a new friend or a place that I really love. I can be hopeful that in my journey I may come across these people or places again, but I also know that there’s so much more of the world that I need to see and so many more people that I need to meet. Being over halfway through my trip, staying present is also important to keep me from thinking too much about my return. I need to bear in mind that at this point in my life, nothing is set in stone, so there’s no need to panic. The world is my oyster, and right now is the best time of my life.
Onward and Upward,