So many new thoughts have entered my overactive mind in the last few weeks. While I love my adventurous side (and still have a dozen more countries that I would like to see), I have this need to settle down. No, I don’t necessarily mean having kids, getting married, buying a house and investing in things. I mean, I want to find a place that I can call home. This has been all too difficult for the past few years because I’ve had to move apartments, countries and cities every 2-4 months for work or because of a lease that has ended. It’s left me somewhat bitter in that I have to pack up everything I own once again and try to make a new place “homey”. So once again, it’s been a total of 6 weeks in this new place and I have to move out. Just lovely.
When I heard the news 3 weeks ago, I frantically searched real estate websites in Barcelona and even went as far as looking at places in Cape Town and Berlin. I also thought perhaps I’d do a month-long travel through Europe. But moving cities and moving countries means yet again getting used to the area, learning the language and so on and so forth. While that is exciting, I am just not in the place right now.
I’ve been living in Barcelona now for 5 months… and I love it. I am quite sure that I am not convincing myself that I love it because I don’t feel like making a big move. When I think back on the places I have lived throughout my adult life, none feel like home… besides Barcelona. Just my luck though, that places available for March are either utterly shit or too expensive. So, in an attempt to get my ducks in a row, I’ve bought a return ticket to go home for 2 months. In this time, I hope to save my money, come back in May and get a one bedroom place. There’s just one problem with all of this…
Having broken away from life in my home country, people move on – much as the same as I have too. They’re different, I am different. And suddenly, I get the feeling as though they really couldn’t care less that I am coming home. Family and friends probably see me as a burden as I need to crash at their place and rely on them (or public transport) to get around. I hate been reverted back to the state where I rely on others. I’ve recently learned that this is the reason why I love living in a different country. I don’t want nor need the help of others. Additionally, I realised that I don’t really have any one in this entire world that gives a fuck where I am or what I am doing. Sad, but sort of freeing.
So while I will only be spending two months at home, it almost feels wrong. It feels like I’ve bought a one-way ticket to a place where I am “the baby” again, asking for help. I really should be excited but I’m just not.
I was clearly born to take the road less travelled. Where will it take me next? I have no fucking idea.
I am in need of guidance. While compulsively snapshotting the amazing view of Barcelona, I took a moment to sit quietly, look out and pray. I need something bigger than me to give me the answers. I hope that I find what I am looking for soon.
I am completely transformed back to a place in which I felt utterly hopeless. I lacked motivation and drive, I felt nothing and I hated it. The only difference now is – I have become somewhat of a recluse, spending all of my time inside my bedroom. I dread going outside. Everything outside seems like a chore – bumping into people, glancing at strangers’ faces, having to figure myself out in the city. I’m in beautiful Barcelona but it feels more like I am in a dark hole.
What is the point of traveling, living in new countries and cities when I can’t even get the energy to leave the house? What’s more frustrating, is that my friends tell me to snap out of it. They just don’t understand that there’s something weird and irrational happening in my overactive mind. I know that I need to get out more, and I fantasise about it constantly by Googling exciting places to see, cafes to work in, countries and hotels to visit – but all of those hours are put to waste when I wake up and cannot give myself a single reason to get out of bed.
I used to be a doer. I yearn for those days again. Now, I am back to that place where my anxiety is so high that I hope for wonderful things, plan them excessively and then – do nothing. Do I up the dose on my anti-depressants? Do I wait it out? Trying to push myself is just not working anymore. I don’t know what will work but this just can’t be how I live my life.
After almost seven weeks in a brand new country, you would think that I would have a lot to say. In actuality, I’m struggling to find my words. The age old irony of the writer that has lost her words.
While I felt immense dread before coming to Spain, I naively had a thought that perhaps things would be different for me. Surely there is a place, a man, and a career out there in one or other country waiting for me to grab it? Sadly, Spain has proven to be quite a let down and truthfully… it’s all my fault.
I was silly to think that I could go back to ESL teaching after having experience a life as a professional writer. I fooled myself in believing that Spain would hold adventure and love for me, and that it wouldn’t matter what job I had if I was living in one of the most breathtaking countries in the world. This is one of many lies I have told myself.
I am living a lifeless life. I don’t speak the language. I have no friends. I am about to embark on a career that I don’t love while giving up on one that I do… and it’s all my fault.
I’ve taken a million steps backwards in my quest for happiness and I am overcome with guilt. I’m stuck and I don’t know how to get out without upsetting someone. Help.
I left London. I left the chaos of London. I left the disappointment of England. I left behind the love/hate relationship that I was in with the country, with the city. While I know that living there made my dreams come true, professionally, I feel as though I have failed.
Losing my job at the only company that I loved, was heartbreaking. I feel as though I had it all and now, I have nothing. The experience left me with skills that are irreplaceable and while I am still doing what I love, writing, England had a way of chewing me up and spitting me out, on many occasions. That is why I will always love and hate London.
I left it, though. “You are really living your best life,” my friends say. Truth is, I am jumping from country to country, pretending to love the adventure when in actuality, all I am searching for is love and happiness. Will I find it in Spain? I hope so.
For 22 years, I drifted my way through life. I rarely felt passion, I acted carelessly and I gave myself away too freely. What did it matter, though? I didn’t need to do anything substantial because I was constantly being taken care of by people in my life. My parents paid for everything, my friends took care of me when I was too drunk to get home and I didn’t have my first job until I finished university. Life was a mere spectacle. People loved my stories of how I ended up in dangerous situations and I loved telling them. I have always lived for adventure – the destructive kind.
I spent five years studying a degree I didn’t care about – little did I know, that it was this degree that would land in me in places I had only dreamed of. I ended up spending four years in Korea, teaching English, meeting locals and other foreigners, experiencing things that I thought were fascinating yet strange at the same time. I knew I had to take advantage of this situation, I knew that I was destined for more than a scandalous story.
I booked tickets to countries that excited me as often as I could. One such time, I ended up on Boracay Island in the Philippines on a solo trip. My hotel room overlooked the sky-blue ocean, great palm trees and the sun beamed into the full-length windows like rays of happiness. My bed was decorated with my favourite flower – the frangipani. Regardless of the abundance of geckos and lizards (my worst fear), I breathed in life. I talked with the locals who taught me about humility. I learned about the island in all its beauty that was jaded by social issues. The people were poor, but they were happy.
I visited a piercing and tattoo parlour on the beach and decided I would get my first tattoo – an outline of Africa on my back. It’s not big and it’s not magnificent but it is meaningful. After all those years I spent trudging through a boring and predictable life, here I was in the middle of nowhere, by myself, with a permanent symbol on my back that reminds me of who I was, who I am and where I come from. Africa will always be home.
No matter where I go (and I plan to go everywhere), Africa will always have my heart because now, I am in a place where I can truly love and admire the beauty of my home country, the inspiring people that encouraged me to live my best life and the astounding diversity that makes this world spectacular. I no longer crave destructive adventure – just, adventure.