What’s all this travelling about?

God, fate, or the alignment of planets decreed that I was born in Europe. As a European, my complexion carries a tinge of olive, but it’s apparent that I am closer to the north than the south. Moreover, my place of birth dictated that, at this moment, my passport grants me the ability to travel to most countries in the world (for tourist purposes, of course) without significant hindrance. So, whenever the opportunity arises, I seize this chance.

My first long-distance solo journey took me to India. What I experienced there is uniquely mine, and the unmet expectations associated with this journey in the eyes of those around me form a separate story. I went there to pursue a yoga instructor course, and so, this journey, amidst a myriad of other experiences, was crowned with that purpose.

However, upon returning, it became apparent that my journey wasn’t about everything I thought it would be. It wasn’t about overcoming personal barriers, being a young girl on the other side of the world, fulfilling my own dreams, experiencing highs and lows, tears of emotion and fear, marveling at the surrounding reality, or being horrified by the reality that surrounds us.

No. It was about expectations. And the fact that no matter what I did, no matter how much I stepped out of my comfort zone or crossed barriers, there was no chance that I would fulfill them.

What expectations? Well, the expectation that there would be no photographs of beautiful views from this journey. Because, quite simply, those views did not exist. There was no marveling at delicious food. Even though the food was brilliant, it wasn’t the focal point of my thoughts. My narrative did not include extolling the local culture, religion, or art. Being there, I didn’t want to observe another culture like monkeys in a zoo, only to return and recount the story with the precision of a surgeon, devoid of any emotion connected to what I saw.

On the other hand, expectations were entirely different. Specifically, the incomprehensible fact that, arriving in Paharganj in India, I simply panicked. Because, after all, I should be a seasoned traveler unafraid of anything. The incomprehensible fact that, upon returning, I chose silence over excessively recounting my journey to everyone around me, as what I saw and experienced was simply challenging to digest. The incomprehensible fact that, when I spoke about this journey, it was more in the hues of sadness, reflection, and fear than fascination, excitement, and admiration.

To some, I was a little European girl who succumbed to panic; to others, not an exciting enough Instagram-traveling girl for my story to be interesting.

And in this entire story, the essence lay in the fact that this journey, with all its baggage, was about me. About what I experienced there and what it meant to me. And about the fact that I will never meet people’s expectations regarding how such journeys should look. Going further, I won’t meet expectations about who I should be. And, truth be told, I probably don’t even want to anymore. (By the way, until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to fully recount this journey, and it’s been over a year and a half since it ended. But I suppose that’s what it’s all about. So I don’t feel like I have to).

I write this post from Sri Lanka, sipping on local beer and feeling wonderful in the place where I am. With the kind of journey I am currently undertaking. Meeting only and exclusively my expectations. The ones that I, and only I, have for myself at this moment.

And that’s what my traveling is about.

And whoever wants to be a part of it, to read, to feel, whether in agreement or dissent, consider themselves invited.

That’s what this story is about.

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