Exhausting The Travel Distraction
Traveling has become quite the trend these days. While the statistic for Americans who have passports was once a measly 20%, things have surely changed. Thanks to social media, we are all experiencing far away lands on the reg. Fashion bloggers and Instagram models are taking us everywhere from the beaches of Bali to the front row of fashion week in every major city. People that you went to school with are subbing typical vacations for European adventures and plenty of photo ops. And memes about gypsy setting and trading in your life for a one way ticket are at an all time high.
Having just returned from nine months of nomadic living, I get why everyone is anxious for another passport stamp or two. Experiencing new cultures is a beautiful thing. Having the ability to trade in your mundane routine of regular life for an open road of adventure is exciting. New places, new faces- count me in forever. Or so I thought. It turns out that there is too much of a good thing; scouring the globe included.
As a fan of fantasy, traveling was an easy way to enhance reality. This summer it was common to fall asleep in one country, only to wake in another. A new currency and language could be summoned in a matter of hours. A foreign city, another sunrise and an abundance of attractive men- it's pretty hard to be bored when this is the norm.
Friends and strangers alike started leaving messages on my social media accounts, taking part in my trips via photos.
"You are so inspiring," a mom from middle America wrote.
"I am so jealous of your trip," a friend said in a private message.
The search for inspiration was always the main driving force behind why I spend thousands of dollars and donate loads of my time to planes, trains and Air BnB. Those heightened moments of life are worth overworking for awhile, only to then drain my bank account to $0. But somewhere between Berlin and Prague, I started to feel my zest wither. As new orange hearts popped up on my screen, I, too, wanted to be the girl in the photos.
Before I knew it, I found myself not wanting to participate in the usual travel activities. The inside of a hotel room or the screen of my phone became more interesting than an unexplored city. Initially, I wondered if I was depressed. Surely, a normal person would love to be in my shoes. And then it hit me- my motives for being here were tainted from the start.
Traveling, similar to dating, work, partying, shopping, food etc. can serve as a great distraction. For me, being alone in a place where English isn't the norm is easier than staying grounded. Commitment, consistency and precision are the things that frighten me. Not the rape, robbery and kidnapping that are common in some of the places I enjoy.
Simply put, I was running away. Switching out my geographic location, hoping to find a new Kenna on the other side of customs. Unfortunately, our problems travel. So does depression and fear and self loathing. What I found on this trip was that they could even be amplified. That living in a lovely apartment in Montmartre for a month, working full time as a writer, with a cute French boy by my side, could feel like the loneliest place on the planet.
Instead of staying in Los Angeles, continuing to build the things I was most passionate about, I took the easy route. Of course, not everyone who is traveling is avoiding. It can be a crucial ingredient to deepening one's life, just like it once was for me. But I was no longer using it to grow. It was now keeping me safe, while making me appear brave.
Once I realized this, I knew my only direction was home. Back to Los Angeles, a city that has housed me since I was 17. This is not to say I won't ever travel again. The past nine months most definitely had many great moments. But not everything is how it appears through a filter on Instagram. Before fleeing the country again, I will be doing some serious self inquiry. After all, our exterior world is just a mere reflection of our inside experience. I look forward to not projecting my inner bullshit all over magical areas of the world.
And with that, I have placed my passport and miles account away for awhile. I am overjoyed in being home, reveling in the plant life and sunsets that are found just outside my window. The search for the perfect permanent spot to create and build has begun. And I can only hope that there are no other distractions waiting to be exhausted.