(It’s not all sunshine and rainbows)
Disclaimer – Those that know me well know I’m writing a book (or two or three), but in doing so I’ve lost the regularity in writing and posting the every day stuff – my lessons learned, the people I meet, and my take on this crazy world we live in. So I’ve decided to re-vamp the blog, changed the name and domain, but the content is all still there from before (for those that enjoyed reading them). I felt I needed something a little more in tune with my new London life – hence ‘Soph in the City’ (forgive the 🧀 ).
And so it begins…a step by step account of what it’s been like returning from travelling, to friends, to family, moving to London, getting a job, living in the capital city, living a 9/5, what the f*** is Thirsty Thursday, and of course…the world of dating in London amongst 28374629773 dating apps (this is obviously a fake number but there are a LOT) – what’s a girl gonna do?
Blog number 1; Rags to Riches
What it’s really like to return from travelling back into the real world after over a year and a half of being on the move.
Where do I start. It’s hard to describe the range of emotions you feel when returning from extended travels, I don’t think I’d ever experienced such an overwhelming, simultaneous flush of emotions until that moment of stepping on the plane back home from Brazil, even whilst solo travelling in that very (and very dangerous) continent in the world.
(Context for those who don’t know me – I spent over 15 months travelling the States, Canada, Central and South America – then returned home and moved to London 8 months ago)
The best way I see fit is to break it down part by part; leave no stone un-turned and say the things that some may not say out-loud when they return back home from their travels.
Why don’t we start with:
Despair – how on earth has your over a year long trip come to an end? How did this trip that you dreamt about for so long finish both so slowly and so quickly at the same time? Why does it feel like you’ve been gone for 5 years but only 5 minutes at the same time? Why does it have to be over? What about all the new faces you know you won’t ever see again? What if you forget all the amazing things you did? What if you’re not happy when you go home? Maybe you could just be a traveller forever and work in a bar on the beach or work in hostels as a career so you can live the life you want to every day?
(I assure you it’s an amazing lifestyle but the novelty does wear off when you start to crave normality/stability).
Excitement – finally, you’re going home. Familiar territory, a place where you know the streets and feel safe, your family, oh my god does it make you cry at the thought of being near them again, being close enough to them that if you need them you can see them at any time. Your friends – what a relief to not have to make new friends every single day. The friends you make travelling are one of the best things about it – there is nothing that describes the connection you make when you cut back the bullshit and just get to know people, but constantly leaving these worldies behind as you get on your next 27 hour night bus to the next country gets pretty difficult time and time again. Secondly when the friends you make are good, they’re out of this world, but you do also sometimes run into your run of the mill baddies (the super opinionated/closed-minded kind, and they can be bloody annoying to shake off), going back to friends that have watched you grow, friends that you can laugh about that time you fell over in front of your crush, missed your flight to Marbella or got so drunk you were sick on them, those kind of friends (not that I’ve ever done any of those things – obviously).
Gratefulness – after witnessing poverty on so many levels, and danger on so many levels it definitely does things to the appreciation synapses in the brain. Grateful for everything you’ve seen, and grateful for everything you have to go home to, when so many people and places you visited have so little. Grateful for a family that have always supported you, grateful for a good education, grateful for our heritage, grateful for your good health, grateful for our healthcare system – the list goes on. Being grateful is something I really learnt the true meaning of and flourished in when I was travelling, for people, for health, for the legs I walk on or eyes I see with. It’s a really grounding feeling when you realise to appreciate everything you have.
Relief – does anyone ever stop to consider how tiring travelling is? People that haven’t travelled before would never believe it – i certainly didn’t before I did it myself. I remember when I started my first job and I watched uni friends go to Australia (with no intention of ever travelling myself) and I watched what I thought to be their lazy traveller lives, where I assumed they did nothing all day but lounge around and I both envied them and was bored at even the thought of it. Post-travelling (and to all the yet-to-travellers out there) I can honestly say moving around constantly, planning daily activities in brand new surroundings, meeting new people every day and telling the same stories about yourself day in day out to different people – it gets tiring.
Money – Get me the hell back on that money making train before I take to the poles (kidding 🤣), but I cannot tell you the lifestyle change you have to go through from working in sales with a cushty commission package and buying pretty much anything and everything you want to – to having to live life every month on a finite source of cash. Knowing your money is only going in a downwards direction. The more you spend the shorter your trip. There are so many lessons involved in budgeting whilst travelling – spending over £3000 in my first month in New York was not the best start (oops – I was excited and it was my birthday month, It taught me both valuable and harsh lessons that I had to change my spending ways – and quickly). Coming home to a salary and a bank account that starts to move back in an upwards direction is a peace of mind nothing else can give you. We hate to love it – but money makes the world go round, and as much as you toy with the idea of getting a job in a bar on the beach in Hawaii and being a hula girl and happy in a bikini for the rest of your life – how realistic really is it?
Panic – did I do it right? Did i do everything I wanted to do? What will I tell people when I get back? What was it all about? Am I different? What if I’ve changed too much? My way of life? My looks? My outlook on the world? What the hell do I say to sum up this year of my life when people ask?
Fear – of what you now know to be the unknown – your old home, the life you left behind, the people you’ve shared nothing but a few face-times with in over a year, the friends who have partners you’ve never met, whether your parents will have aged, whether you’ll ever find a job again, if you’ll remember how to work a 9-5? (It will all come back to you, and be fine, I promise – but If you want a taste of what anxiety looks like – circulate those questions repeatedly in your head until you come up with the worst possible outcome to every one – yeah, it’s not for the faint hearted).
Independence – this may be the hardest of them all, you become so used to doing everything you want to do, with who you want to do it with. The level of independence you learn travelling is quite astounding. You learn not to be dependent on; your phone, your things, fancy clothes, money, your friends, your family, society, your social status, you have to fend for yourself, where nobody knows who you are. And you learn to really, really love your own space. There’s something really calming about not depending on others or things, your life is more in your hands, and therefore your feelings and emotions are dependent on you, and you only. Giving that up to let people in again will and has been hard, it takes quite a bit of patience from the people in your life (I know dating in London has certainly taught me this comes with its challenges – read on in a couple of weeks when the dating chapter of living in London commences).
Accomplishment – you did it. You did the thing that people questioned, doubted and asked you a million questions about. “You are going to travel the States, Canada, Central and South America – on your own??? But you’ve never travelled before, why go to such a dangerous continent?” (Someone even told me to buy a Swiss Army knife – I kid you not, as apparently I wouldn’t survive South America without it – firstly what the hell would I do with a Swiss Army knife??? Secondly I didn’t want to end up in a foreign prison, moving on..). Well, to all the doubters, whether you are doubting yourself or doubting others – don’t. Travelling isn’t always an easy ride and coming home isn’t always an easy ride either. But I’ve never felt a sense of accomplishment like it.
I did that – I travelled on my own through some of the most dangerous countries in the world, and not only did I live to tell the tale – but the memories, the photos, and the people that were really worth it – are people I will carry with me throughout the rest of my lifetime. The truth is, none of the fear/despair/confusion/money I’ve spoken about compares even a little bit to the feeling that you did it. You stepped out your comfort zone and did something a lot of people wouldn’t. Hats off to anyone else that has stepped out of their comfort zone recently – and those who may be finding the process of settling back into the real world challenging sometimes, look back through your photos, be proud of everything you achieved, get back on the horse, and keep going to kick some more ass in your new home.
I’ve been living in London for 8 months now, and I’ve learnt if I ever feel a little lost or a yearning for the life I used to have when I was away, I remember how proud I am of everything I’ve achieved so far, and that the journey is far from over, in fact it’s only just begun ✨
Read on to next weeks blog to find out what happens when you actually get home. The surprise arrival on Mums bday and inevitably how it didn’t go to plan 😂 ❤
Photo taken during Carnaval – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.