A new year is just around the corner, all sparkly and shiny and waiting for you and me to enjoy. It’s there, like a gift full of surprises, fun and excitement. I feel like that about mornings too. Guess I’m lucky.
But, and this is a big fat BUT worthy of capitalisation, I’ve been having an unexpectedly tough few days. Somebody close to me questioned my happiness. She said it was written all over my blog that something wasn’t right. It was obvious to her that we travel because we’re unhappy. Not just a bit of low mood but deep, crushing unhappiness, depression, worthy of therapy or even medication.
This amateur diagnosis from the other side of the world, from someone I’d seen maybe 3 times in 7 years shook me up somewhat.
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Do We Travel Because of Unhappiness?
I guess it’s that old chestnut that keeps cropping up, grass is greener syndrome. It’s not why we do this but some assume it is.
As you might expect ( because it came as a mule kick in the teeth from the blue), this friend’s unexpected judgment got me thinking, self-analysing and reading old posts looking for this alleged sadness or depression. I couldn’t find it on the blog so I started checking the inside of my head.
The navel gazing lasted a couple of days, I’ve been thinking about everything in minute detail, searching everywhere. I asked a friend here who I see regularly if she thought I was unhappy, depressed or delusional, ( she said I was of, “Above average happiness.” )
I asked other friends through the miracle of Facebook ( some real-life friends, some long-standing virtual associations). No, nobody else thinks that. My husband doesn’t think that and, a few days later, neither do I.
I fully admit that we’re weird. Normal people don’t pack up and travel round the world for a few years with the kids, but it’s what we love so it’s what we do. Who wants to be normal anyway?
I also admit that I have suffered from anxiety since childhood, I’ve seen a doctor about it and had it formally diagnosed. I do not have depression, never have. I rarely have major anxiety these days and when it comes I know how to manage it without drugs.
But self-doubt is a funny old thing that can turn you upside down and inside out. In this case. I think I feel better than ever after a few days of deep thought.
What Makes Anybody Happy?
I turned to Wikipedia.
Yep, that sounds fair enough.
We all have ups and downs, some days are amazing, others see you reaching for the gin, but that’s human, normal. If we all existed in a constant state of averagely content, immune to real emotions, the world would be a pretty boring place.
The highlights are the best times, the memories that last, far more so than the average days. Unfortunately the bad times have a similar propensity to stick around. I have a few of those too, but I keep them in a box in a bottom drawer and don’t go there unless absolutely necessary.
I focus on the good times and always have. Is that healthy? I don’t know and I don’t care, it works.
Yesterday I read a post by Wandering Earl, he says I’m Confused About Life Just Like Everybody Else, and it rang absolutely true. Nobody knows the answers and we all have to do what we need to do to be happy right here, right now. And that thing changes, life never stays constant and who we are doesn’t stay constant. As we age each day, so do we change.
I’m the queen of changing plans because something better or different always comes up. Our plan to stay in Asia long-term changed to exploring the Americas and a new-found passion for cruise ships.
Our plan to emigrate to Australia wasn’t right for us after the first few years, but was essential at the time. Our current life may not be right for us in future. So we’ll change it again.
And that’s OK.
This mind changing to her was a symptom of my alleged unhappiness. I see it as going with the flow and being flexible.
We’re not stuck with our choices. That’s a fallacy.
I thought I was once, I thought that, like school, work was there to be endured, a constant, boring time-killing necessity. It’s not, I woke up and never looked back.
There are people out there who get fulfillment through work, good for them, I never did. I hated having my wings clipped and my time evaporate.
I always wanted to be doing something else. Now I have two jobs, two amazing kids to raise and help educate ( a job that I feel I was born to do) and this, my website. I like both one heck of a lot.
We are the only ones who know what we want and what we need and we are the only ones who can change our lives. Nobody else is going to do it for us. We can move on. Growth and pushing forward are what it’s all about.
Life is the result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, fix your choices.
Trying new things is good. Finding you like them is great, but finding you hate them is fine too, you’ll know for next time what it is you don’t want.
As Earl says, the key to personal happiness is being true to yourself and having the confidence to be that person. You are who you are, never try to be someone you’re not. I’ve tried it a few times to fit in with the normals, it didn’t work.
Ignore the knockers, the critics and the doubters because you only have one life and it’s there to be lived, by you, nobody else. Clichés are clichés because they are true. Real friends and family love, support and understand, they don’t judge, criticise and try to force change to suit their own expectations.
Sometimes People Just Don’t Get It
Friends and family don’t always understand a change of life such as ours. They won’t understand why we left home, why we left them and why their lifestyle isn’t what we want for ourselves.
I think they try to justify our behaviour in their terms, this particular friend obviously thought we were acting out of unhappiness. She probably can’t understand our love of travel and exploration, she won’t understand our need to be around other travellers and alternate educators and she doesn’t get why her lifestyle choices could never work for us. I’ve lost contact with family members because they don’t accept our choices. I took a bitter, nasty attack from a close relative, I’m starting to understand why they feel that way, they feel abandoned and rejected.
We never meant to abandon anyone.
I’m trying to live in the best way I know how. I want to enrich my children’s lives and give them a phenomenal world view that could benefit them and others in future life. My kids are amazing, my husband is too ( did I mention how proud of all three I am, they totally rock) we are a family, we love each other, laugh together, poke fun at each other and sometimes get on each other’s nerves. That is normal. I think we have more laughing, cuddling, tickling and loving times than the other.
We’re off again soon ( we still don’t know where, that announcement will be coming any day). London has been AMAZING. But we’re done, we’re off, time to go, we can come back any time we like, severing old ties but keeping a few newly made ones. We’ve met some amazing people this year and last. We just had the most beautiful Christmas card from our new friends at Our Whole Village and from new friends in London. We’re making room for more new stuff in our lives.
Happy New Year and I hope you’re happy with your life too. If not, you can fix it. Maybe you’d enjoy our post on why people travel?
Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.