You’ve set out for your first big adventure. You’re young and you’re nervous, and your stomach tingles in a mix of anticipation for what’s out there and anxiety at leaving the comfort of home for such a long period of time. You go, you live, you breathe, you experience, and you return. You’re glad to be home. After so much change and uncertainty, it’s nice to have sure footing back. Everyone is excited to see you. They want to hear all about your trip. And you tell the stories, over and over again, each time remembering some small details, and reliving your whole experience. Eventually though, the questions stop and the storytelling fades. Normal life resumes. The same daily small talk and gossip picks up again, and your fantastic, life-altering adventure is soon forgotten. Of course this isn’t unexpected – but somehow, you find that you can’t just go back to life as you knew it. Everyone resumes their daily life, not realizing that you are no longer the same.
Each and every time you travel, a part of you grows. You change. You transform, ever so slightly. And at the end of the day, month or year, you are no longer the same person you were before you began your journey.
Time away – whether it be years spent at university, months spent abroad or a week’s vacation – has the power to fundamentally alter you. And, while each new experience teaches you something about the world, perhaps even more so, it teaches you something about yourself.
Eventually, enough time passes that you begin to feel more at home, more welcomed and more comfortable about anywhere else in the world than you do at home. The unfamiliar becomes familiar, and you crave each new sight, smell and sound. You feel more at ease grabbing a few beers with some exotic strangers you just met than you do out with old friends, where the conversations begin to falter and fall short.
Hometown visits become shorter and less frequent, as you begin to realize that your piece no longer really fits the puzzle.
You begin to realize that what is comfortable is not always best. You begin to travel more often, craving that experience, wanting to know more about who you can be outside of the city limits you grew up in.
And while you still often crave home when you’re abroad, once you do return, the restlessness always creeps up on you. Each time, it takes less and less to spark it.
Like a trapped lion, you pace back and forth, for you know that true freedom is no match for a comfortable bed and regular schedule. The person who everyone once knew is gone, replaced by someone different. All you know is that you want to get to know her better.
And in the end, your anticipation for what lies ahead always wins out over your anxiety of leaving home.