When You Retire From Travelling And Don’t Know Who You Are

When you spend enough time on the road, the road decides your identity for you. You solidify your self-concept through the eyes of other trotters, other travellers, other self-identified leavers and wanderers and drifters. They call themselves global nomads. Citizens of Earth. Voluntary wanderers. Whatever you want to label it, it’s a cult-like attitude and it’s one that sucks you in. Wandering becomes your identity. Moving from place to place becomes not only what you do, but who you are. Your life is eternally lived in the future because that’s where you’re most comfortable living it.

You assume it’s going to go on forever.

And then one day, what you thought would never happen to you, happens: You reach a point where you do not want to leave anymore. And so you go home (or wherever home feels like). And you stay.

For years your life was littered with comings and goings. You never had to worry too much about the people you loved or the places you settled into because you knew and they knew that soon enough you would be gone and all of it would cease to be anything but a distant, pleasant memory. And something about that was comforting. It was easy to never invest, to never settle in, to never stay. It absolved you of responsibility and of emotion. It gave you a ready-made excuse to run away from any situation that didn’t serve you. It was a get-out-of-jail-free card for all of your mistakes.

Constantly travelling is a fantastic way of never facing yourself. You tell yourself that you belong on airplanes, in train compartments, sprawled out across sandy beaches or curled up in tents in the woods. You tell yourself that you belong nowhere and it becomes an easy identity to adopt. You are nowhere and everywhere. You’re nothing and everything. You belong to nobody, you belong to yourself. You are only your own and every time you start to feel like somebody else’s, you leave. Leaving is your thing. It’s what you do. It’s the only thing you ever feel sure of, the only action that makes you feel like yourself.

You need to know how to leave because it’s your defense mechanism. You’re not the person who sticks around to figure it out. You are not there come hell or high water. You’re not the person who grows stagnant and sad through repeating the same problems that have plagued you for years. You’re the one who knows when to get out, when to jump ship, when to tumble out of that crashing airplane using a feigned sense of empowerment as a parachute. You’re a skilled crash lander. It’s the only thing you know how to do.

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