It’s hard not to feel this weird, self-imposed pressure to travel a certain way. Why didn’t you stay in that town longer? Why don’t you just stay there for a year like he’s doing? Are you going to work? You should. You’ll meet even more people that way. And remember when so and so moved overseas and never came back because they fell in love with a guy and bought a dog? That could be you. You should want that too.
And sometimes you ask yourselves these questions and sometimes other people allude towards them too, and no one ever means anything by it. No one is saying this to judge you or judge your trip or judge anything at all. But it’s hard in these vulnerable situations not to internalize it and think that perhaps, you’re doing this all wrong.
So what happens? You find yourself on the Queenstown apartment listings Facebook page in the wee hours of the morning, frantically scrolling and messaging anyone and everyone who has a place that looks half decent. Because everyone loves Queenstown and wants to live here and you love it too, so why not. But then you remember that no, you don’t actually want to live here and you don’t want to get your own apartment and you wanted to head back North to that tiny beach town and live in a cabin for a month. And you still want that, and it’s okay to want that even when everyone at brunch told you that you should stay South. That it’s better and you’ll like it more.
It’s hard not to create this pressure for yourself when you hear what other people are up to; ending their road trips to get a job and settle somewhere for awhile. When your friends go to Australia to live and you’re like, shit. Maybe I should live here. Maybe I should get a real job and create a real life and keep advancing my career. I should do this and that and fuck, why didn’t I think of that and this and that other thing?
But I did think of that and this and that other thing. And I didn’t want it. At least I didn’t before, and maybe I still won’t and maybe I will and that’s okay, and it’s okay to just enjoy the process of figuring it out rather than forcing yourself into all these weird boxes and holes that you don’t want to be in.
But that’s really hard to accept for some reason. That it’s okay to do your own thing however the fuck you want to. That if you choose to go back on the road and keep hiking mountains and rocking the greasy topknot, not making bank and not settling down and never creating a new little life for yourself, that’s fine. You can stay on the go and keep writing along the way because that’s what you wanted to do, and that’s what you still want to do. And yeah, you could probably do it differently and be perfectly happy with that too, but whatever. You’re in fucking New Zealand. You wake up happy and fall asleep happy and your skin has never, ever looked better. Who cares where you’re going next. You’ve obviously doing just fine as is.
But it’s hard! It’s really hard to be okay with that. It’s really hard not to look at the photos and hear the stories of everyone you’ve met along the way and think you fucked up somehow.
And this all goes back to that first post I wrote about feeling the need to justify all your decisions, and it’s frustrating in a way because that is the entire premise of this damn book I’m trying to write. Everyone having their own happiness and not giving a shit what everyone else’s happiness happens to be. I literally write about this every [other] day. And then I pack up and live my life and fall into the very trap I’ve spent the last hour rambling on about. Who CARES if they own a home and you don’t? You’re different! Embrace it! LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
And then I go home and stress about the fact I don’t want the right things. That they own a home and I don’t. That maybe life actually could be a bit more beautiful.
Its fucked, really.
But I also think (hope?) it’s normal. I’m merely human, afterall. A fresh faced, ragged looking human who is so sick of all the clothes she brought and wants to dump her entire backpack in the river.
And this is why, I think, I’ve continued to believe in this novel and believe in spending all my money to be here because I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like to be 27 and a little lost and a little confused. A lot scared and a lot confident and a lot excited. Be it here or at home, I know how hard it is to say fuck it.
But we should say fuck it. Because we’re all we’ve got. People and places and things will change but you’ve got you forever. So let’s just all be cool with that. To accept where we are and what we want. To stop falling into that pressure that we’ve done it wrong somehow. That we’re doing it wrong somehow. That it could be better because look at them and what they’re doing.
In this moment I am sitting solo on a patio. I am, as per usual, drinking an insanely delicious coffee. I can’t tell if the waiter is flirting with me or if he just really wants me to order food so he can justify holding this table for me. I thought it was the latter so I ordered a cheese board. An entire cheese board for myself. And then I cancelled it because wtf. I can’t afford an entire cheese board and if I eat that much cheese I’m pretty sure I’ll be napping for a week. Lactose intolerance is a real thing, people.
But in this moment while all this is happening I feel so incredibly confident and sure of myself; of how I’m doing this. Of where my next stop is and where I want to go from there. Of how much I’ve written and how much I’ve seen and how many people I’ve made conversation with along the way. Of how long I’ve managed to stretch out wearing the same tshirt. I mean, I Febreezed myself today. I’m not proud of this, but I did it, and it worked, so fuck it. LOOK AT ME GO.
So as the days keep passing (way too fast, I might add), I really want to hold this moment. Of fully knowing that I’m good. That I’m happy and the moments I feel unhappy are only those moments I look at everyone else and think that maybe I’ve strayed the wrong way. And of recognizing how sad that is and how much nicer it would be if you just let yourself embrace your own path. Because it’s all yours, baby. You made it yours, and that’s pretty cool in my opinion. To be perfectly okay with your own Febreezed, wine stained, beautifully fucked up path.