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  • Writer's pictureMateusz Górecki

The toughest step

You observe the world.

You experience new things.

You fall in love.

You meet hundreds of wonderful people.

You visit places that until recently you could only meet in your old atlas.

You absorb other cultures, customs, traditions.

After a while, it all comes to... an end. You say that the hardest thing is to pack your backpack, close the door behind you and hit the road. For me, the hardest thing is always... to come back.

You talk about the difficult parts when you are away. I have to find a job, find real friends, keep myself safe, learn social norms, trust.

Goodbyes are hard, but you know they are coming. Particularly when the message on your computer screen reads: "thank you for making your ticket purchase," or "check-in reminder." You are aware that you are leaving. However, each of these trips has a cushion of protection in the form of returning, reuniting with family and friends.

You return home after the hardships of the trip. The first two weeks are magical. You spend them with loved ones, friends. Phone calls, stories, invitations. You're a big name star for the next few/some days, exciting, right?

Then it all disappears. The travel bubble bursts. Everyone gets used to the fact that you're "there," you're no longer the beautiful, shining object that everyone would admire. The questions start to get to you-you already have a job? What is your plan? Are you dating someone? How about your...retirement plan?

However, the sad part is that once you've "scored" all your mandatory appointments while you were away from home, you sit down on your bed, in the room you grew up in, and realize that totally nothing has changed!

You are, of course, satisfied that everyone is happy, healthy and...yes-they have a new job, girlfriends, got engaged, married, etc. However, some inner part of you is screaming, "don't you understand, imbecile how you have changed?"

I'm not talking about hair, weight, clothes, or any other external attribute. I'm talking about what happened in the cogs that are inside your head. Inside you. The way your dreams have transformed. The way you perceive people now. All the habits you've replaced with new ones that are relevant to you.

You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share them, talk to them, but ...such a way does not exist. You can't explain what happened inside you. You can't explain how leaving everything you knew, loved, trusted, left behind allowed you to grow, to discover, to experience. How it helped you change yourself. To simply live and discover what is most important.

You realize that your thinking is different because you have experienced it, every second, every day, inside you, but how do you communicate it to others? You feel anger. You feel confusion. There are moments in you when you feel that it all didn't make sense, that nothing has changed in you, but eventually you realize that all these thoughts accumulate in one point. It is these, all the uncertainty that makes you realize that everything has changed...everything.

You try to leave once, the only thing you will desire upon your return leave it all again, to leave, to disappear. A lot of people call it the "travel bug", in my opinion it's the effort you have to put in to return to familiar places, where you are surrounded by the same culture, people speaking your language.

After a few trips you will feel more comfortable in unfamiliar, mysterious places. No longer will a foreign language be a problem for you. English, Spanish, German? Although you won't even understand a word sometimes, being with these people will be much easier, because they will understand what it is: change, growth, experience, learning, leaving.

Later, return home, and feel even more... lost.

This is the most difficult part of your journey and also the reason why you are running away again. However, one of the few opportunities for you to discover yourself.


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