They say time flies when you’re having fun.
It has been one year since I decided to make a change for good. I quit the job I didn’t enjoy and left England for a while. At the time, leaving England was the only thing I could do to try and leave the rut I had got stuck in. I didn’t know where I belonged or where I fit in in the world. I knew if I didn’t do it now, I would never do it and forever be stuck in a continuing cycle of monotony and loneliness.
Along came 27th May and time to leave. I had booked a late night bus down to London as I had an early morning flight to Reykjavík, Iceland. It had crossed my mind several times if I was doing the right thing. Was quitting a stable income close to home because I was “restless” the right thing to do? I suppose I was going to find out in due time.
I arrived in Reykjavik on the 28th. For anyone who knows me, they know that this is one of my favourite places on the planet. I had even planned to relocate to Iceland at some point in my life. This time, it just didn’t feel the same. Something was missing and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
I spent eight days in Reykjavík, visiting my old haunts and discovering some new ones. Yet still, I felt a lack of something. Perhaps it was because I had been there four times previously; somewhat lacklustre I suppose? This is what I originally put it down to and hoped my feelings would subside when I got to Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
Needless to say, they did not. In fact, the loneliness was crippling and there were days where I didn’t even leave my apartment in Tórshavn. I was in an unfamiliar place with no one I knew at my side. I had wanted to visit this country for years but now I was struggling to leave and explore it. At this point I thought about calling it quits and going home.
I had one more flight booked, it was to Bergen, Norway. I honestly felt some sort of relief when I left the Faroe Islands, although I was tinged with sadness. I hadn’t seen as much of this beautiful place as I would have liked to and I knew that it was fully down to me and the state of my mental health at the time. I needed to learn and grow from this. I couldn’t let my mind defeat me. It had done that for far too long.
Once I arrived in Norway, I felt like I could finally rest and settle somewhat. I spent a few days in Bergen and eventually decided to book a bus to travel onto Alesund. The bus journey from Bergen to Alesund was nine hours, but it flew by and I had the most beautiful scenery to gaze upon.
It was early evening by the time I arrived and I needed to find my hostel. I grabbed my suitcase and headed towards the town. I eventually bumped into two older English ladies who happened to be looking for the same hostel as I was, although luckily enough they happened to actually know the way. I mention these two ladies because they were really the first people [strangers] to enquire if I was okay in the time I had been travelling thus far. I check into my [female] dorm room and I am greeted by other women around my age. Eventually a few others came into the dorm, but it was never full. People struck up conversation with me and I can honestly say this was the first time I felt human in a while.
In this small moment, I knew I was going to be all-right. With such basic human contact I felt renewed and more confident in myself. My mindset was completely different now, I was finally beginning to enjoy my own company.
After four days traversing Alesund I moved onto Trondheim, where I spent just one day. It was probably the most action packed day of my trip to date, I probably saw more in just one day here than I did in a week in Tórshavn. Plus, my new found confidence and motivation certainly helped.
Somewhat exhausted, I moved onto Östersund, Sweden for the Midsummer celebrations. I originally only planned to stay in northern Sweden for two weeks and move down south, but I ended up staying in the area for around five weeks. Here, I felt like I could finally get the mental and physical rest I truly needed with no rush to do so. Whilst I was here I reignited my love of baking and nature again; thus leading me to discover the joy of foraging. I even learnt how to fish!
I eventually decided that it was time to head back to England [I had an event to attend]. I left Sweden with a heavy heart. I felt like I had unfinished business, as I had not continued down south and headed onto Denmark. I didn’t know what to expect when I got back to England. Would I revert back to how I was? I was heading back into uncertainty.
I flew back to England from Trondheim, Norway [direct flights]. I was awash with emotion when I saw Blighty for the first time in over two months. I had missed her. I had truly missed my homeland. I knew I had changed. This is where I belong.
I settled back into life in England. I easily gained employment once again and eventually even found myself dating, which was certainly unexpected. This eventually grew into a loving, stable relationship.
“You cannot love anyone until you love yourself.”
I suppose it is somewhat of a cliché when people say “travel changes you”, but it is true. It changed me in ways I never imagined. For years I had lived in my own misery but never doing anything to change it. In just over two months, I had grown exponentially. I was no longer a shell of a person. I enjoyed my own company, liked myself as a person and felt confidence I never had before.
Whilst originally I just wanted to leave the job I hated so much and see some of the world, it actually became a journey to better myself. I pushed myself far out of my comfort zone and came out the other side a lot stronger mentally.
One year on I still feel the positive affects of my travels. I look back on who I was as a person a year ago and I am grateful for this journey, no matter how hard it was at times.
Here’s to the next year.