There are two types of people in the world. Well, in my world. Not male and female, nor gay and straight or any infinite variation on that. No it’s nothing to do with race; nothing’s that black and white. Some people settle, some people escape, all of their reasons are different.
A colleague recently told me I was brave for taking off ‘around the world’ (in reality you never see enough of it) with only the vaguest plan of where I was going, or for how long. You think that’s brave? Brave is making a decision; picking a job, somewhere to live, a house to buy, choosing a person, a child. Me? I can’t even decide where to run away from my decisions to.
This isn’t a sanctimonious article about travel not being synonymous with escape; the typical viral ‘who says having an 8-6 office job is the real world as opposed to seeing the real world’ rant. And no my Instagram byline does not read ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ (Oh Tolkien if only all these tattooed Pinterest princesses knew they are forever stained with The Lord of the Rings’s appendix). If anything this is more of a cry for help, or at least an application into the other teams’ Magic Circle. Let me in on your secret.
I lied. Those of us who take off are running away. But only from monotony, and it’s gonna catch up with us sooner or later. Trust me, even touring countries gets tedious after a while, and then what? You come home and everything’s the same. Or worse, everything’s changed; everyone’s become an adult and left you in the playground.
‘I deleted you from my Facebook feed, you were always on a beach’ people laugh when they next see gloriously-tanned you. But it’s not those people on your feed who are making you want to leave again. Nor is it seeing friends you met in Australia, Laos, California when they come to London, when they end up with some boy in their hostel shower at 6am whilst you’re getting up for work. You understand them, you were them. It’s the other type of person who’s disturbing you; she with the steady job, he who’s never left the town you were born in. It’s your best friend planning her wedding, your travelling buddy moving in with her boyfriend. You had them for a year in your hostel bed. Perhaps it’s not those who wander that are lost; you’re losing the ones who don’t.
To be fair, we’ve probably put you off ‘going travelling’. The phrase is irritating enough and not even grammatically correct - where the fuck specifically are you going? And when you get there, just imagine: Everyone who’s ever preached to you about wanderlust all gathered on a beach together. We all know each other. There’s a camera set up that detects anyone who leaps in the air and Instagrams it, there are woven bracelet and shell necklace sellers, people weaving dreadlocks smoking joints, and a tattoo shop named 99 Impossibly Small And Cute Tattoos Every Girl Would Want which is sponsored by Buzzfeed. Vests and UV paint are mandatory, and iPhones are stolen at whim, though as long as you Facebook Status the story of how you lost it with a ‘lol’ you’re given another. But guess what, everyone’s smiling, and not just on camera.
I understand that people want to settle, and I don’t define settling as compromising. None of that ‘Oh her ex kept shagging other people so she settled for the chump on whose shoulder she cried’ bullshit; settling is allowing your brain to settle, to relax, to be content. Maybe you’re the lucky ones, born with the ability to appreciate what you’ve got, whilst we race around the planet bumping into – and bumping uglies with – as many people as it takes to exhaust our unrest.
Thankfully we escapists have got the internet on our side. We’ve got streams, no oceans, of rambling consciousness vindicating our clichéd, drunken, so-broke-we’re-thirty-and-living-with-our-parents antics. Luckily there’s one Tumblr quote that always validates us, and that we will always throw at you; you’re never going to be any younger than you are right now. So off you go.