A Little Confession… The Panic Attacks Have Started

Last updated on December 13, 2016

I had a total meltdown today. It was almost like a temper tantrum fueled by fear and overwhelm. I started crying for no definable reason. It turned into the ugly sobbing. I chalk this crying-jag up to pre-trip stress. It’s just… today I felt the full force of my decision to travel.

I am leaving all of my family and friends behind for a year. The only ones I will see for eleven months are those who are joining me for parts of the trip. Lots of people have promised to visit, but I also know that many will not follow through on that. Not out of malice, but others in the travel forums report that few people actually take that big step of booking their own tickets and heading out on the road.

Today, I visited my best friend and her six-month old twin boys. I wonder how much I will miss. Then I looked at my niece and nephews, and I wonder what they will look like in a year. Will five-year-old Little Eric lose his first tooth while I’m gone? Ana, my eight year old niece, will likely learn to land her back-flip while I’m gone — I will miss the ecstatic phone call from her bearing that exciting news.

My family Summer 2010
My mum, dad, and two of my nieces and nephews at a going away dinner.

[divider_flat]The laundry list of “misses” hit me all at once to day. In a fully rationale moment, I can point to the fact that phone calls, pictures, and emails will fill a bit of that gap. I can rationally know that I am trading a year of the steady grind for a year of unforgettable travel experiences. I want this trip, it’s something I have always believed about myself: I am a traveler. But I never realized that travel does have trade-offs. It has downsides, especially long-term travel. I believe that an individual has to travel and push the limits of their comfort zone to understand their place in the world. But today I looked at those comfort zones and realized that there are people within that zone who I will miss. There are friends and family that won’t leave this prescriptive life with me, and in many cases I will be leaving some of them behind. I don’t mean leaving behind my best friends and my family, but those in the periphery of my life may not be here in a year’s time.

There is a flip side to travel that means calculating the risk of losing friendships with the value of my year of travel. I’m still on board with this trip. It’s happening. But there are realizations cropping up that hadn’t occurred to me when I first deciding to set out on the road.