When Travel Becomes An Escape

When Travel Becomes An Escape

I’ve always wanted to escape my reality. I hated routine. I hated my job. I hated that I’m not skilled enough to have a career out of my passion. I hated the fact that I seem to be forever financially dependent on my 9 to 5 job. I was getting sick and tired of my present situation, I was so desperate for change. Career change, life change, physical change, anything that takes me out of my current life. I moved to a bigger city, got another job with a higher pay check, thinking that it would all make me feel better. But boy, was I wrong, it only made me feel worse. I hated the crowded subways and metros. I hated that all I see are buildings, no mountains and no beautiful beaches to go to on weekends. I realized that living in one of the top metropolis in Asia feels like living in a giant shopping mall. I was disgusted by the consumerism and materialism around me, and the worst part was the fact that its slowly sucking me in without me noticing it.Singapore

I was unhappy and I felt guilty for feeling this way because I know that I have been tremendously blessed for being where I am. I tried hard to look at the brighter side of things. I kept convincing myself that I am in a better place. I buried myself in books because stories transport me into another world that is different from my reality. I travelled as much as I can. I was obsessed with booking cheap airfares that I didn’t even care where to go, as long as I can get out of “here.” If my leave credits weren’t enough, I’d come up with a lousy excuse at work, just so I can go on a trip. Travel for me has always been a form of escape. I fell in love with travelling because it takes me out of my everyday worries.

Until I plan my next trip, I’d fall into a depression state. I’d have all these angst about “how sick I am of my life” shit. My passion became an obsession, I constantly live either in anticipation of my next trip or in the memory of my last one. My days were filled with daydreams but instead of feeling blissful, I felt frustration most of the time. I became too impatient. I was in a hurry. I felt like a failure because I’ve been working for 9 years and I’m still exactly where I was before. I felt like nothing much has changed in my life and it frustrates me big time. I kept telling myself to suck it up because there are so many people who has it worse than me. I know that there are people who would trade to have my life in a heartbeat. But this also doesn’t mean that my struggles aren’t real.WHEN TRAVEL BECOMES AN ESCAPE

The only time that I am truly happy is when I’m travelling or when I’m with family and friends but other than that, I constantly feel out of sorts and disconnected. I was so confused what to do with my life. Maybe it comes with age and maybe I was just panicking. It was the last few years of my 20’s and I felt like I achieved nothing. In fact, I wrote about it during my Cameron Highlands trip here. That was also the time when I came across about the concept of mindfulness and intentional living. I’ve read articles and books about living in your present, but I honestly can’t fully grasp it. I understand the theory but I cant understand how to do it. It was so hard for me not to overthink things. It was so hard for me to empty my mind. It frustrated me even more that I cant seem to do it. I went about with my life feeling like a crap but this idea of “living in your present” has always been at the back of my head.

I started to notice some changes in my life last year. I didn’t even know how it happened but I started to be aware of my own thoughts and emotions. I’m not exactly succeeding at emptying my mind but I was becoming conscious when my mind wanders off. I was consciously doing it therefore I can also consciously stop and bring my attention to the present. I learned how to watch my thoughts and it made a huge difference as to how I think things. It was when I realized that all I have to do was to be conscious. Living in my present just means being intentional and mindful with what I do or think. I started to feel so aware of myself and I started noticing my own patterns. I noticed that I’m always inspired at the beginning of the year, then Id start travelling by second quarter and then Id get depressed by third quarter because the year is about to end and I still haven’t achieved anything, then Id start getting excited again by December because of the holidays.Autumn in Japan

Knowing this, I consciously made an effort to stay inspired all the time. I focused all my energy on finding ways how to be creative. I got serious with my photography. I read photography books and begged my friends to do photo shoots with me so I can practice and learn more. I also started learning how to edit my videos. I continued learning calligraphy and started playing with watercolors. I had so many personal projects that I tremendously enjoyed. I genuinely started to appreciate my reality that I no longer feel the need to escape it. I still travelled because I will always love travelling, but I travelled less and I travelled more meaningfully. I didn’t do it to escape my reality. I travelled because I truly want to see and experience the world out there.

Miraculously, I also started to feel genuinely grateful for my job and for being where I am. I felt grateful that I have a less demanding job, thus giving me so much time to pursue my real passion. It also allows me to financially support it, because let’s face it, I don’t think I can buy a plane ticket without my job. Point is, nothing has physically changed in my life. I’m still where I was before. I’m still financially dependent on my 9 to 5 job. But what changed is my perspective, what changed is how I see things because I am now conscious of my own thoughts. I stopped with my obsessive need to get there because I am here now and now is all that matters. Living in my present relieved me of the pressure of having to achieve something.WHEN TRAVEL BECOMES AN ESCAPE

I’m constantly amazed at how I’m discovering and learning things that can completely alter my perspective in life. Up to now, I’m still learning. I also lost the need to constantly check and update my social media. Social media used to be my quick escape from reality. I used to check my social media a lot to procrastinate. Recently however, my virtual life has been so quiet, I am more occupied living life in the real world. I’ve also been travelling even less this year. Partly because I’m saving for Iceland but also because I no longer feel the need to be constantly somewhere else. I’m at peace with my reality and with where I am now. My travels have also become more meaningful because I am no longer travelling simply to escape. I am travelling intentionally and mindfully which makes me more present and aware resulting into richer experiences.

I know I’m not the only one who have gone through these struggles. I guess it’s normal to feel stuck in life at some point, to feel sick and tired of the daily grind, to feel like you will never get what you want from life. I know that my struggles may be different from others but one thing is for sure, the most important thing in our lives right now is our present, so try to live in it. Be present and be mindful. I’d also like to share what I wrote 2 years ago. I captioned this in one of my old Instagram posts. I was more like talking to myself when I wrote this but I hope this will make sense to you too.

I want you to know that you’ll be okay. Even when things seem bleak sometimes, know that nothing is permanent, things will pass and things will get better. There may be days when you wake up uninspired, exhausted and lost, but don’t worry, you don’t have to have it all together. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take a break, breathe, go somewhere far, be close to nature, remind yourself how to live, smile, be present, be honest to yourself. Stop worrying about things that are not happening yet or may not even happen. You may not be where you wanted to be just yet but please know that there’s still so much in store for you. Be patient, be grateful. Stop chasing people. Let go of relationships that are one sided, stop making so much effort for people who take you for granted. You’re the only one who can save yourself from drowning in a sea of irrelevance. Stop thinking about time, it’s okay if you still haven’t figured things out. It’s okay if you are not conforming to what society dictates of what you should have at your age. Take a deep breath. Gaze at the moon and the stars, know that you are exactly where you needed to be right now. One day, everything will make sense. Always let faith be your compass in everything you do. You’ll be fine.




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