I have been feeling all out of sorts recently. Like, lying on my bed eating cheese crackers and snivelling at cute pictures of animals on Instagram rather than getting out there, hanging out with actual real people and enjoying myself.
“But you’ve just hopped off the plane in WA with your dreams and a cardigan!” I hear you cry in disbelief. Well, actually, I totally just got that from a Miley Cyrus song, but you may say something along those lines.
How can I admit to not beaming with happiness at the carefree joy my life may seem to project? How can I complain when the sun is shining, I am exploring a new city and I am in the nation where Tim Tams can be eaten every day?
For those not in the know, Tim Tams are a chocolate covered chocolate biscuit that are excellent dunkers in a cup of tea. Being English, this is a huge advantage to living in Australia and I go so far as to say they are superior to the UK’s Penguin biscuit. Yep, I went there.
Biscuits notwithstanding, my point is that I should be pretty darn grumble free right about now. And I know it is an odd thing to admit when I am taking the first steps of a new adventure. It all should be fresh, exciting and all to play for, laid out in front of me like the dizzying, liberating, exhilarating world that it is.
So what is going on?
Let’s start off with our old frenemy:
At first, Expectation is our best bud, our life coach and there to give us some much needed va-va-voom. Expectation kicks our butts into shape and gets us out the door, so amped for what’s in store that we fail to be reasonable about what it is we’re getting ourselves into. And Expectation does not settle for second best. Oh no. He is all about the fine dining, swanky cocktails at sunset, Instagram perfect kind of life. Nothing else will do, darling.
Which doesn’t always relate to the backpacker lifestyle, let me tell you.
Oh no, no, no.
Because then you get to wherever it is you are going, check into your hostel with the eight bed dorm room with a squeaky ceiling fan and drink glasses from a $5 bottle of wine because you can’t justify the gorgeous cocktails – gah, there I go again with the cheap wine! Remind me not to, ok? Read my thoughts on cheap wine in Spain here.
And you search for a job but nothing comes up. You watch your bank balance go down instead of up. You plan, you worry about that plan, you change your plan and then worry some more.
Expectation hangs over our shoulders like an oppressive scarf on a too-hot day, fogging up our glasses so that we are unable to see objectively. Expectation can be so overpowering that as well as limiting our vision, it smogs up our minds so that we can’t think clearly.
And that’s where the real danger kicks in.
Fuelled by Expectation I landed in Perth with a plan: find work, find a place to live, save some money for a few months. I tried to set that plan into motion and made a choice that was not in my best interest by taking up a job that would not make me happy.
Skip to the part where you can find me lying on my bed with the cheese crackers and pictures of the smiling sloth and pain au raisin pastries – you’ve not seen them? Where have you been for, like, the past forever?
And then it hit me. I had forgotten to nourish myself.
I’d let Expectation set an impossible goal of how I should feel, how quickly I should find work, find incredible roommates, and generally have all my shit together.
And I wasn’t being realistic. I was being too hard on myself.
I had forgotten what would make me happy. And I certainly was not nourishing myself.
What do I mean by all of this?
In the context of travelling – also in everyday life, too – I think people forget how to put themselves first. This might seem a little strange as travelling is inherently selfish; you decide where to go, what to do and what to see. You should always be pleasing yourself, right?
Wrong. I have realised that because we find ourselves always on the go, away from home, that we often neglect our feelings. We dismiss what will ultimately make us happy in favour of pushing our boundaries, pushing our limits and desperately seeking those new experiences in those new places we’ve found ourselves in.
And eventually we suffer.
I for one am terrible at remembering to moisturise when I travel. It gets to the point when I look at my skin and realise with a shock that I resemble a piece of sandpaper that has been scraped a thousand times.
And some of us won’t sleep too well when travelling. Or you may not get enough fruit and veg in your diet and drink too much alcohol over water. You may experience bumps along the road in your journey, money worries, or other challenges.
On top of all of this, there is Expectation, who gets in your face, jumping up and down like an irritating cartoon character demanding, ‘Do you know you should be living the enviable, carefree life of a traveller right about now? Where are the cocktails? I want one with a green umbrella’.
Whatever it is that is nagging at you will eventually drag you down until you make some changes. For me it was realising that alongside the non-moisturising (whoops) I was carrying around some serious negative energy with a job I was doing, simply for the sake of earning a few dollars.
The Importance Of You.
So I cut it loose. I let that job go that was sucking my joy like a vacuum and sent Expectation packing with a complete reevaluation of my priorities. And do you know what my priority was? That’s right: me.
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you don’t want to go, don’t go there. If something is not working out and Expectation is riding you relentlessly, cut yourself some slack and try something new.
I speak to a lot of travellers in the hostel I’m staying in – a nice one, by the way with no squeaking ceiling fan – and they echo similar frustrations to me. They can’t find work, they want to buy a car but can’t afford it or they are not sure where to go next.
So, I know I am not alone in the way I feel. Travelling has this strange underlying current of shame where people feel guilty for admitting that they are not having a blast 24/7.
But my decision to chuck in the job and book a trip from Perth to Broome has lifted my spirits completely. I’m refocusing on my passion for travel, writing on my blog and the effect that has had on my mood is, quite frankly, remarkable.
And I promise to keep moisturising.
Do you forget to put yourself first sometimes? What are your top tips for nourishing yourself? I would be interested to hear your thoughts so please share them with me.