The lessons learned while travelling are countless. Wherever you go, whatever you experience, however long you're away for, needless to say that you will grow, learn a ton and gain new perspectives along the way. Potentially life changing. Good for you. Count your blessings and embrace your path.
And then, what happens when you leave your traveller's nest and head back home?
NOTE: There is no right or wrong - shining light on different points of view may help to oversee your situation and encourage a positive approach. Don't we all have our lessons to learn?
You changed, most of your friends and family didn't
Your life changing experience abroad probably has been life changing. When you got accustomed to sleeping with spiders and the threat of snakes, everyone back home sunk a little deeper in their warm bed of comfort. Where you were faced with the direct consequences of poverty, climate change, gender inequality and lack of safety, the people back home still try their best to grasp the urge of global issues from a TV screen. When you experienced firsthand what it is like to not work 9-to-5 and live a little yourself during a life-exploring journey, your friends were probably applying for their so-manieth job, trying to find their purpose in life.
Ready I was, when I took a plane back home after five beautiful years on the other side of the world. I was sure I would inspire everyone else to break free.
Until I got home, I thought South America was full of challenges! Think twice, me says. My life home has been more of a roller coaster than five years of South America have been in total. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it's definitely a close call!
One of my biggest struggles after being back home is what I call the "gap of urgency". While in a safe space the need for popular shoes (mind you, the twentieth pair on the shoerack) might seem urgent, you know better now. I was mindblown to find out the material wealth most still dream to obtain and the spiderweb of marketing everyone got sucked onto. Furious and frustrated I started my new mission of making sure no-one would ever buy those terrible brands again, I would preech green and organic, and point out every instance of phone addictedness and anti social behaviour. Now here's the gamechanger: deep inside, I was jealous.
The real lesson learned: when back home
Within the first year of my return I spent every well earned penny on getting back onto the fashion train. I would tell myself that it would make me happy if I would look like everyone else again. They would probably accept me better and stop calling me a homeless hippie. After a couple of months I realized that I had worn those very fashionable pieces only once or twice. They started to itch. The tags "made in Myanmar" started to annoy me. The fabrics (plastics) suffocated me. I grabbed a bag and brought all my (new) clothes to the salvation army. I did this a couple more times and soon my hunger for material wealth was stilled. My closet was also close to empty and man, that felt good!
I cured myself, now how would I be able to help the rest of my environment? I picked up on my earlier commitment and I might have tried bringing up using organic products, buying fair-trade clothes, sharing shocking facts of the fashion industry... But I soon noticed that my recently-obtained freedom started to fade. Defeated I realized I can't change anyone, all I can do is set the right example.
I started my own business in fair-trade, organic and sustainable products. Do any of my friends care? Well, they support me any way they can, everyone in their own particular way,
and that's wonderful!
No matter how much you have changed, the real change is that you will change your mind about changing other people.
There it is. That's the real lesson I learned from my travels. First, I had to experience that we can live with less, then I had to go through a phase of wanting more, and more. Only to learn to let go again. But not until I would have saved the world from destruction. Learning to let go again. Did I need to travel the world in order to learn my lesson? Probably not. Although, did I gain such valuable insight that I have now started my own fair-trade business and organic brand of sustainable alpaca products. Wool form Peru, made by women in Bolivia. I wouldn't have been able to set that up if I hadn't lived there for so many years.
Want to learn more about my sustainable brand? Go to www.yanantin-alpaca.com to find out more!