Words by Emily Fuller
Getting off the plane at London Gatwick Airport, going through the standard motions of collecting my baggage. I suddenly became aware of the oddity of the fusion of various emotions – I could sense the adrenaline of excitement and wonder, being combatted by a thickness of dread and exhaustion. Looming over me, making every ounce of my being feel heavier, gluing me to the ground with every step I took (or maybe that was just the colossal 15kgs of luggage perched on my back, who knows?) After a finally seeking out my hostel in London, I think my emotional gauge realised it was acting like a pressure cooker for the past 48 hours – supressing and condensing every emotion that dared spur inside of me. The release of all the tension, exhaustion and mild anxiety finally conquered me, wearing me thin and crumpling me as if I was merely a sheet of paper.
The idea of travelling, especially solo travelling, can often feel overwhelmingly terrifying. You feel as if you rip yourself from your roots of the healthy soil you have worked tirelessly to nourish and nurture in your everyday existence back home. You are no longer leaning on the comfort of familiarity, your friends or your family. Without a physical consistency of a home, relationships and social interaction, you may feel utterly vulnerable within your independence.
So what do you do in a momentary period of desperation and hopelessness? When you feel the miles and miles and miles of distance that pries open a chasm within you, making you feel like you’re torn from your lifestyle you’ve grown so accustomed back home? From my experience, I rode the wave of initial anxiety, finding relief in the sensation of being cleansed and refreshed just as the sea is resolved of after the chaos of a storm. I plucked a seed from within the depths of me, and sewed it into fresh soil. Over the few days of being within one city, I would water and nurture this seed, drinking its sweet nectar and allowing myself to grow with it. I would then pull myself from these roots, proceeding to plant yet another seed in the new city I found myself in.
What I learnt is that a sense of home and belonging is not some material and external place you physically settle in to. Rather, it is that very seed from within, the seed of self-love. Can you really appreciate the broadening of your worldview and cultural experiences if you do not already have the contentment inside of you? How can you grow from these adventures and challenges if you cannot see that travelling is not about reaching a destination, but about letting yourself flourish with curiosity and wonder within a new culture?
I think a huge misconception of travelling is that the joy of seeking adventure is purely bound in its physical form. That you visit these places for a fun sensory experience – from exploring gorgeous aesthetics of land and cityscapes, to overindulging in exotic and delicious cuisine. Indeed, travelling is definitely all of those wonderful things, but I think a lot of us underestimate the transformative power it has internally on us as individuals. You are forced to navigate blindly, relying on internal instinct for many challenges that are thrusted your way. You often open yourself bare for those other wandering souls you encounter along the way – some of the most soul-bearing and emotionally engaging conversations I have had in my lifetime have been whilst travelling. I think whilst exploring foreign territory, your consciousness is forced to meditate on the kind of person you are when extricated from the place you call home. To me, that state of being is the most genuine and purest in form as you are relieved of the external factors of everyday life that manipulate and mould you.
As I type madly away, the liveliness of Brighton burns on into the night just outside my window. I’m gifted a view of the ever-so gritty yet fashionably retro Brighton Pier. The wildly aggressive seagulls become relentless with desperation, whose size and screeches give Australia’s birds a run for their money. A man is so passionately engrossed in his melodic jam-session with just his saxophone, the sensuousness of sound prickling at my ears. The gorgeously delicate hues of pink are brought the foreground of the horizon – contrasting the silver reflection of the sea, inviting me to dream of home. I am again so settled within myself. I know that tomorrow I have to rip myself from my roots again, just to sew a new seed elsewhere. But now I know that’s okay, because regardless of where I am in the world or what I am doing, there is one particular constant that is me. And this constant will always be maintained and nurtured by self-love, anywhere I wander.
Art by Alana Hansen