5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself

11 October 2019

Our nine-month backpacking journey is nearing its end, and as I'm currently sat in a hotel room in Vegas with a sprained ankle - maybe a story for another time - I thought I'd sip my (annoyingly cheap considering the price of the hotel) cup of coffee and take a few moments to reflect on things I've realised about myself along the way.

1. I like pushing myself out of my comfort zone, provided that I know I'll enjoy the situation at least somewhat. I know that's a complete contradiction, but bear with! At times opportunities came up that made me nervous, like embarking on a week-long motorbike trip with Will, but it was that good kind of excited nervous. Other times opportunities were just 100% Not My Thing, like caving, but I went anyway purely for the sake of 'trying something new'. Lo and behold, I hated every moment and the group having to stop every few minutes as I was slipping on wet rocks and felt a panic attack coming on made me think 'I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to do it, I should've just stuck to my guns'.

It reminds me of the time we went for a debriefing-brunch of the night before at Fego and our mate kept trying to get me to drink some of his Bloody Mary. "I really don't like tomato juice" I said, to which he replied "have you ever tried it?" I hadn't, and this sparked a 'how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?' dispute that we were both far too hungover for. In the end I took a big gulp just to put an end to the whole thing, had to run to the bathroom and it all ended with a rather frosty "I told you I knew I didn't like it". And now, I guess - I can say the same for caving!

2. Something that has surprised me is learning is that I'm not as much of a homebody as I thought. Maybe it's the years I lost to chronic illness that've meant I'm glad to be doing something different, or maybe it was our jam-packed schedule that gave me little room in my brain to think about good old sleepy Norfolk, but I haven't pined for home like I thought I would. I've had a couple of wobbles, sure, but for the most part I've enjoyed our little 'temporary homes' all over the world.

Whether it was for three days or for a month we've had endless basecamps that we've called 'ours', and I think it's comfort that I crave and not necessarily a certain place. If my environment isn't comfortable and the people I'm surrounded by don't make me feel at ease, that's when I feel homesick and like booking a one-way flight back to England. If I'm with Will and we've got a cosy room on the other hand, I could happily stay in one place forever!

3. I love meeting new people and socialising (this sounds like a dating profile), I'm not shy, reserved or quiet and my job requires the confidence to stand in front of 20+ crew members and talk to a camera as though I'm filming a YouTube video alone in my bedroom. So an extrovert, right? Not exactly, as I'm truly content with my own company and crave 'alone time' to recharge, and I actually feel a bit trapped and get this feeling that I can't leave our room sometimes. When I do, I realise that everything's fine and I thoroughly enjoy the conversations and mingling. Is an 'extroverted introvert' a thing? If so, that's me!

4. Grab your armbands if you can't swim as we're about to get pretty deep, and that's because I've realised that I need to seek help for my mental health. Depression and anxiety haven't been topics I've covered much online (something I'm willing to change if it'd help others in some way), and going on a trip like this one for the best part of year has brought certain issues to the surface that I've probably been ignoring for far too long. Backpacking doesn't leave anywhere to 'hide' - you can't put a sign around your neck that says Do Not Disturb whilst you're having a depressive episode, because you're staying in a dorm or you have a tour booked or you're getting on a flight. Feeling the way I have since we left the UK has been a reminder that turning a blind eye when it comes to your mental health simply doesn't work, and I'll be looking into therapy when we get home.

5. Let's have a lighthearted one to end things on - and offset that last 'world's smallest violin' moment - shall we? I bloody love camping! I didn't think I liked camping at all. In fact, I denounced it and said it was Not My Thing, just like - oh I don't know... caving? As explained in #1 however, I did know that I'd somewhat enjoy the whole experience so Will and I have done a fair amount (both in a campervan across Australia and regular tent-and-pegs camping). It's always such an adventure - rocking up to a gorgeous National Park and setting up for the night, cooking risotto from scratch on our wee hob and spending the evening chatting around the campfire. Absolute heaven, I tell you!

Now that I've taken a long look in the mirror and deduced a thing or two about me, myself and I - and now that my cheapo coffee is empty - it's probably time to call it a day on the self-reflection and go watch Rocketman with Will in the multiplex cinema in our hotel. Yep, the multiplex in our hotel. The bad coffee just doesn't add up does it, pals?

Top | Skirt | *Necklace
*PR sample/gifted
Photos by Will Burchill Photography

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