Today’s guest post is brought to you by Matt from the Cowboys from Space blog. Matt and I met online recently, because we both instantly liked each other’s blogs and started talking on Facebook. Matt loves to find stories and helps other people tell theirs on his blog. His subtle superpower is coaxing the story out of a person, although he also writes his own stories and bits about his life on Medium – link here. After reading some of my posts about travel and consequent personal growth, he started thinking about his experience with travelling and what it means to him, so he wrote me a post (thanks Matt!) and here it is:
What does travel mean to me? I know, the summer of 2020 is probably not the best time to ask ourselves this question. It’s one of the most frequent things I have been asking myself since last March, when the lockdown was declared first in Italy, my home country, and then in Transylvania, where I was working in an organisation focused on kids in the villages.
In a few weeks everything changed. From planning my trip back through Hungary and Austria and looking for some jobs/ volunteering projects around Europe, to being stuck in a house in Brasov. Thinking almost every day, if I should have stayed there or gone back to Italy, scared that I would have always made the wrong decision.
Where did my mind escape to during those weeks? Sometimes I’d lie down, close my mind, and take deep breaths. Leaving my mind free to run, going back often to the memories of my trips. A sunset on a Greek beach. A train riding along the North Sea. The crowded streets of Istanbul…
The first time I moved outside Italy for several months was in 2017. I had just finished an internship in a toxic environment and my group of friends had split a few months before. Feeling like I could scream, I wanted to get rid of that sensation to be always unheard and labelled as the wrong one. I decided to look at some volunteering projects about communication and something from Bulgaria popped out. Choosing between a place in which I felt extremely lonely and a radio station in an unknown city on the other side of Europe was very easy.
As Petra said in her “Don’t travel to find yourself” post, travelling doesn’t make you magically find yourself, but it may help you figure out something that you were looking for a long time before you hit the road. I spent most of my life studying, to prove to myself that I could have reached some huge goal, but struggled to connect with the people around me. I felt like there was a glass wall between me and others, so when I began to go away from home, that wall started to seem less thick.
I don’t want to believe in fate, especially in this moment, but I believe that someone somewhere in the world shares a special connection with us, which creates surprising and deep interactions the day you find them. Interactions that help you to find your hidden talents, point out your strengths, and make you reflect on your weaknesses. I’m aware you can have special encounters just by crossing the street, but my instinct always suggests me to go a bit farther, to let my curiosity overshadow the social pressure of always having to justify what I am, what I have done, and what I hope to become.
Many people say that one of the reasons they love travelling is finding the goodness in others. Mine is slightly more introspective. I feel disconnected from the rest of the world and I don’t have a huge self-esteem, so I am very hard on myself when I’m not able to reach a goal, criticising myself for how the outcome would have been different if I had made different decisions. Sometimes I see the world only in black and white and I focus only on my failures, on my regrets, on my fears. Travelling helps me be more indulgent with myself and have a more positive mindset, reminding me that life can also give you great joys, like unplanned trips that you will always remember with a smile, or friendships built in unexpected situations.
I’m not as dreamy as I can seem, and I don’t like so many things in this world, but shutting myself in my room where I’d keep thinking about how miserable I am because things are not going as I wished, is not the right solution. Someone told me that a bit of travelling is the best way to restore your faith in humanity, but it could also help you to make peace with yourself. To look at yourself with a more neutral glance, to think a bit less of the past and the future…
Photos by Matt S.