‘Did it change your life?’ That was the question everybody asked when I got back from travelling. Nobody really wanted to see the pictures or videos, but they all wanted to know how 7 weeks backpacking in South East Asia had affected me.
I wasn’t sure how to answer them. For the first few weeks I replied,
‘I’m not sure yet. I’m still processing.’
And then it came to me. It wasn’t necessarily what I’d seen or heard or done. It was more about what I hadn’t seen or heard or done or even felt. It only hit me when I came home and fell back into the routine I hadn’t been following while in Asia.
I spend some time every day watching TV, flicking through Twitter, perusing articles on LinkedIn, learning online or reading books. When I came back from travelling I suddenly noticed most of what I was reading and watching assumed I couldn’t do, didn’t have, or didn’t know.
I noticed lots of ‘how to’ articles on LinkedIn work from the assumption I’m unable to or don’t have the time, patience, or brains to work out ‘how to’ – I’ll tell you because I know and you don’t?
Suddenly every advert I noticed on TV seemed to be directed at what I didn’t have (young skin, thick hair, a ‘beach ready body’, the list is endless). And countless professional development books on my shelves claimed to know the ‘secret’, the ‘key’ or ‘the edge’. I realised articles I read to help me, were probably making me feel more incompetent, more inadequate, more helpless because of the presuppositions they’re based on, and the way they’re written.
‘Click bait’ titles hooked me. I was reading Tweets, blogs and buying books based on what might happen to me if I didn’t. I felt afraid not to. I had become unconsciously fearful before I went travelling.
My writing was motivated by fear too. I blogged the way experts told me instead of the way I really wanted. When I read them now, I cringe.
I broke the reading, listening and watching routine while I was away because I was too busy doing. I wasn’t motivated by fear, instead I felt inspired by curiosity and challenge – how far could I push myself, what could I do, how quickly could I adapt and learn. It was only when I got back I noticed how fearless I felt.
Now I don’t know if being motivated by fear is maybe a UK, or a western society or a developed nation phenomenon, or even just a very clever marketing trick. Maybe it’s personal – have I been stuck in the drama triangle and feeling a bit of a victim wanting to be rescued by these clever authors. Who knows? What I do know is that travelling did change my life. Now I’m more conscious of what’s behind my choices, decisions and actions, what’s really motivating me. Am I being fearful or fearless?