My bad trip – I took a voyage of self-discovery, but the self I discovered was a total buzzkill
Getting dumped right before a solo overland journey from Barcelona to Beijing derailed my bid to rebrand myself as a woman of the world
A lonely girl walking along bridge.
‘Without question, the biggest enemy to my backpacking bliss was myself. My self-pity was tangible. It was syrup and I bathed in it.’
It was meant to be a voyage of self-discovery. But two days before I left, my boyfriend dumped me. The self I discovered was a total buzzkill.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” he swore, but I was crying my 21-year-old heart out in the front seat of an Uber as we wove through East Fremantle – a panic attack playing peekaboo in my gut.
My driver’s name was Ricky and he wore an Akubura with hanging corks. Ricky said I was better off without the ex. He was right – unequivocally so. But at that moment, my glass was half empty.
Backpacker hostels may be cheap – but there’s so much else to love about them
A year earlier, when I planned my solo overland journey from Barcelona to Beijing, I was certain if I looked wistfully out enough train windows and sipped enough home-brewed eastern European spirits, I could officially begin a rebrand. Forget the awkward girl hiding behind a thick fringe and meet the new me, a woman of the world.
I had dropped out of university and worked two jobs to make it possible – including a stint squeezing maggots from a dishcloth at an ice-cream parlour – so I am usually hesitant to describe those four-and-a-half months as anything but perfect. But in reality, I was emotionally unhinged.
I mostly travelled alone and was excited to get to know myself away from my usual crowd. Disappointingly, I found I was a person who would cry in a 14-bed dorm room, set off by a text from my ex about cheese and crackers. A person who would go clubbing in Mykonos with a bad cough to avoid being alone and who would unload my emotional baggage on to anyone who would listen.
I’d love to say I eventually had a thrilling love affair with a Bolshoi theatre ballerina
I got bed bugs, pneumonia and fleas. I missed an expensive flight. I got in several fights with men who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. I blew through my budget. I had a credit card for emergencies – but the word emergency quickly widened well beyond its dictionary definition.
However, without question, the biggest enemy to my backpacking bliss was myself. My self-pity was tangible. It was syrup and I bathed in it.
I’d love to say I eventually had a thrilling love affair with a Bolshoi theatre ballerina or that the Gobi Desert single-handedly rebuilt my self-worth with its vastness. But in reality, I was still a mess on my flight home from China, cry-watching The Fault in Our Stars from the back of an economy-class seat.
I did learn how to strike up conversations with strangers and how to shuffle cards the cool way. I met a French man who softly shamed me into loving red wine and a girl who seemed to know nothing about the world outside the United States other than how to appreciate every moment she spent exploring it.
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I spent a few weeks travelling with a Swiss German accountant whose defining features were his love of techno and kindness. Although completely platonic, we swapped rings made from toilet paper and had a fake wedding on a sleeper train. While he didn’t teach me how to heal a broken heart, he did walk me through my first snow fight.
About the Creator
25 years young.
inspired creative, enterprenuer and lover of life.
expressing herself through words, songs, images and sounds. writing her story daily, putting meaning to her path.
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