“I’m lost. I want to go travel. I just want to leave. But my 31-year-old brain is telling me I can’t. That I need to settle down. That I can’t give it all up…”

It was a conversation I recently had with a friend. Who am I? What is my purpose? Can I keep doing what I’m doing? Is this what I really want? These kind of questions are natural as we journey through the years.

A lot of us turn to travel as a way of escapism. We want to find ourselves. To lose ourselves. To forget ourselves. We’re doing it all wrong. Use travel to build yourself.

Travel, not to find yourself but, to realise who you’ve been all along

Eat. Pray. Love. Many of us have seen it. Maybe we’ve been on a similar journey ourselves… I sure have. Travel does empower you, often without you even noticing. But it shouldn’t be looked at as the answer to your unhappiness.

No matter how far you go, you can’t run from yourself. When your feet are dangling off a mountain you’re sitting at the top of, heck, you’ll feel everything.

Lost love, missed opportunities, and fear. But you know what, this is a good thing. You’re letting yourself process life and move on. You’re not trying to sweep the dust under the doormat.

Traveling can be life changing, educational, mind opening and may even lead to self-discovery. But don’t make that the focus of your journey or you will miss all the other wonders of it.

After all, what’s the point of traveling when you’re not going to see anything of the country you’re visiting? This world is so full of beautiful things. Don’t miss seeing it for some elusive, intangible goal of finding yourself.

Happiness is now…

The thing is, happiness is not a destination but a way of life. Yes, it’s nice to look out into the distance, but you miss what’s right in front of you – the present.

I’ve always been really in tune with myself. I learned early on what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I can visualise my life in the future and I know what I have to do now to make sure it’s full of experiences and coloured with memories.

Instead of trying to ‘find yourself’, pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. What are the things that make your feel full? Write them down and look for a clue or recurring theme that strings each together. It won’t be travel for everyone, but it can be road to get to know us more. A journey we take to become our own best friend.

Work on the relationship you have with yourself

Just like we do with our partner, family, and friends, we know how to make them happy and what they need from us to be fulfilled.

Look at it as a journey. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have it all worked out. Discover your pillars of happiness and build your life upon those foundations.

Travel. Connection. Freedom. Creative expression.

These are my pillars. See, it’s a combination of things. I’m not looking for one thing, like the solitude and isolation of travel, for the answers to my questions.

I’ve come back from trips even more confused and disillusioned. But it’s there that I also found beauty – colours that I had never seen. Ways of life I would never have imagined. Like the small moments I now appreciate.

Going for a walk with my two-year-old nephew.

Little welcome home notes from friends.

Going camping with the friends I call family. 

The baby blue South Aussie sky.

I’ve become observant and mindful. This has, in part, become my happiness too.

If you want something, go for it. If it doesn’t work out, you can take peace in the fact that you went for something you truly wanted in that moment. How could you ever regret that?

There are no rules to life. Follow your intuition. You can feel it. It’ll never lie to you.

And to my 31-year old friend, I say, follow that feeling. Forget the ‘needs’ and ‘shoulds.’ We only regret the chances we don’t take. Home and the rest of it will always going to be here – this time, however, won’t be.

Trust yourself, I told him.

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