Backpacking Europe: 1 Year Later

A year ago yesterday I was landing in Belgium and starting a five-week journey that would completely change my life. I know that sounds really corny and a bit hyperbolic, but, for better or worse, it completely describes what happened. Despite how much I hate the whole “eat pray love” thing…it was kind of one of those trips. You know, minus the food of Italy, spiritual-ness of India, and sexy man in Bali. 

My euro-trip last year was the perfect start towards a journey of becoming more comfortable with myself, more in-tune with who I am, and more aware of what I want out of my life. And more importantly- really owning it. Like, REALLY owning these truths, no matter how different they may be from what most people want and do. 

I journaled throughout my trip, usually on my many train rides through the eight countries and fourteen cities I visited. I wrote about my daily musings, the people I met, the funny and weird experiences I had and the inside jokes. I tried to capture as much as I could so I wouldn’t forget anything. 

But I also wrote more personally. I wrote about what I was feeling (the good and the bad) and the fears I had as I made my way from west to east. And re-reading these thoughts now, it is not only entertaining at times but also really eye-opening (I’m sorry, I tried for like 30 min to find another phrase and couldn’t). I look back at some of these things and think, “WTF.” I look back at others and discouragingly realize that not much has changed. 

But, that’s part of the journey. 

And I want to share that journey with you.

Backpacking Europe

Part of my whole shtick (if you want to call it that) is being honest with you. Last year I wrote pretty openly about the changes going on leading up to this trip. And recently I opened up about a bout with depression I was going through. I believe in transparency. Like, real transparency- not that fake bullshit that some bloggers or writers tote where they kinda have a bad day yet somehow find the positive in everything. Fuck that. Sometimes stuff is just shitty and that’s ok. 

Anyway, my intention last year was to document in real-time what I was feeling. 

And I did. But I didn’t share all of it. I didn’t let you in on what was going on because:

1. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling because I was feeling 17 things at the same time. I couldn’t sift through my own emotions. Revelations I had on Monday seemed to be null and void by Friday. But also…

2. I was afraid of putting it all out there. I was afraid of how people would view it. Mainly my family. My mom reads this space. So do other family members. So do close friends. And I have tried for a long time to strike the perfect balance between being “myself” and being vague enough to appeal to a lot of people. 

But one thing I got from this trip, and from the past year, is quite simply: fuck that. (sorry I’m not sorry for saying “fuck”). I don’t care anymore. Or, at least not anywhere close to what I used to. 

I’m sorry Mom, I love you, but I don’t care if what I write offends some people, even if those people are members of our family. I don’t care anymore if it comes off crass or rude or like an immature millennial. I have spent too long trying to edit myself, and be neutral for everyone else, and I’m not doing it anymore. 

So, shit’s going to get real. And messy. And maybe a little uncomfortable. And if you don’t like, don’t read it. 

Tomorrow I’m going to publish the first of my journal entries from Brussels with real 2017 commentary along the way.

I hope you read along. Because if nothing else, I hope that you at least realize that change takes time. That some of the things I was hoping to correct haven’t changed, but others have. That life, and what you want out of it, can be consistent and yet also fluid and shapeable. That it’s ok to change your mind and change your goals or not know what you want at all. And all of this is a process. 

If nothing else- I hope that reading this gives you comfort that whatever journey you’re on, you’re not alone. And if you feel like it’s taking forever for you to get from point A to point B - it’s not. It’s just part of the ride. 

Have Love, Will Travel

Sarah