It all started with a message.
‘Fancy going inter-railing? X’
I had been working in my retail job for nearly a year. This being the job I was only supposed to be doing provisionally after graduating, until my dream career decided to tap me on the shoulder and scream ‘SURPRISE!’
I kept telling myself that this wouldn’t be forever. It’s all just temporary.
Then a year passes by and the horror of reality sets in.
Shit. What if this is it?
I had always been a daydreamer. From a young age, I was ambitious. One week I was a writer, then: a singer, dancer, violinist, actress, future lawyer, politician, and even a spy. Some would say I had an active imagination, but I’m going to roll with sheer determination. I wanted omniscient status. I wanted to know everything and be everywhere.
One thing that always remained consistent over the years was my urge to travel -to seek out new experiences and learn about other cultures. When it became clear that a writer was who I would be, I wanted to absorb the plenitude of inspiration that the world had to offer. I remember visiting travel agents, picking up brochures so I could create a collage of travel inspiration on my wall, their beauty heightened by quotes from Jack London and Tolstoy, among others. In my small room back at my mother’s house, the wall remains untouched -the spills of my mind’s yearning presented before me whenever I visit.
Back to July, 2014, waking up at 4:30am to get ready for a 6am shift at a supermarket, which, I’ve got to say, wasn’t exactly where I thought I would be. I had somehow deferred from the path I had written for myself since the days of stringing sentences together with flash cards.
I was uninspired and afraid to make a move, but I knew I had to do something. Go somewhere, even if it were only brief. A few months earlier, I had seen an old friend in a club on a night out. In our semi-drunken states, we managed to have a rather “deep” conversation. By deep I mean it went something like this:
“I really wanna go travelling.”
“Oh my God, we should do it!”
“Yeah let’s go right now!”
“Yes! Maybe finish our drinks first?”
Surprisingly, we did not go travelling that night.
Yet somehow, despite the inebriation of the night in question, a few months later I remembered my friend mentioning Interrail, and how you could buy one train pass that will allow you to travel through Europe.
‘ Fancy going inter-railing? X’
Lying in bed one night, restless from a 20-something crisis, I sent my sister a message, and she said ‘yes’. We spent the next few months planning our trip. It was only short, but it was something. We left in that October on a flight to Budapest, and we travelled through to Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France using our Interrail train pass to visit multiple cities in each country. The sheer act of moving city to city, country to country, was enough to get us salivating for more. We travelled for only 11 days, which is nothing to the frequent traveller, but it was the start of something. The start of being who I always knew I would be.
Fear is the great annihilator. It’s fear that suffocates us with doubt and unapologetic thoughts of impending doom, and paired with simple procrastination, it can be a deadly weapon. POW POW, and POOF, you’re in a dead-end job. The point is not to let fear stop you from doing something you feel passionately about.
Travelling isn’t for everyone, but those who do, feel it in their bones. Every new landscape, culture, and person encountered, becomes a part of your history- and that history is you.
My trip was short but it has stirred something in me. I’ve been bitten by the travel bug and I’m only getting sicker.
As the wise, Tumblr-stricken youth of today will tell you: YOLO.
This post was originally published on juniper Magazine