Why You Need To Stop Traveling If You Want To “Discover Yourself”

Athens Hill Top

If you’ve found yourself loitering around this particular website, and wondering why I haven’t been adding new destinations, it’s probably because I’ve spent time re-visiting the old ones, and taking some serious time off to breathe. The interwebs can often get overwhelming, from its sheer enormity, and often from the buttload of negativity it throws our way. But this time, it wasn’t the little endearing annoyances of being a social influencer that had me running the other way. I’ve been creating content on various platforms- scattered, I’ll admit. But I started taking my Youtube channel seriously this year, and spent time mastering the art of editing my travel pictures. I launched my own presets (the Lightroom presets I use to edit my pictures) as you would have noticed on my Instagram profile. I started creating more videos- some for Facebook as well. I tried to be more “out there” instead of simply putting my content out there, in a way that would make you gawk (or cringe?) at my face more often that you did earlier.

Recapping 2018 thus far: Spent January recovering from the incredible 20-day road trip I had taken along New Zealand (in Dec 2017), spent February and March enjoying getaways at hotels near Delhi, gave the GMAT in March, gave the IELTS exam in April, set off to Punjab and Amritsar for weekend trips after that, and spent all of May outside the house: visiting friends in Bombay, taking a father-daughter trip to Ranthambore, and then finally ending the month with a weekend in the hills with my two closest friends. Opened my own office, hired an intern and started a brand new project in June- which is taking shape at snail’s speed because R&D takes a lifetime (overwhelming you with details very soon, I promise!) and finally in July- forced my family and friends to pamper and smother me, because it was my birthday month. I did do some work this month- wrapped my head around GST and taxes as a freelancer, copyrights and trademarks, and all the legal jargon I had been outsourcing to anyone willing to help me.

This year, I signed contracts with some huge brands in the travel and food domain, created much more content than I had been creating previously (videos and pictures), and learnt to say no to some incredibly exciting opportunities as well. But between all this, came a desire to stay home. Maybe it was hitting 26 that made me want to spend more time with the family, or maybe travel had worn me out a little. But I didn’t plan any big trips this year, didn’t make any fancy plans and went wherever the wind took me. So in this mid-year-review-of-self, I feel pretty great about how 2018 has turned out.

I had been feeling a certain contentment with having my roots laid firmly around the house this year, but I truly understood it in the second last chapter of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and I don’t think anyone else could have nailed the feeling quite as well as Mark Manson did. Commitment is the operative word here- commitment to staying in one place, with the same set of people, doing the same kind of work. He says there’s “freedom in commitment” and while that sounds like the biggest oxymoron to ever exist, its 100% true. Our experiences are more enriched when there’s some depth to them. Otherwise, the law of diminishing returns applies to every experience, and the satisfaction of traveling to the 10th country is far lesser than the one you would get from traveling to your 5th country. But if you travel with people you love and have committed to- old friends, family, a stable partner, those experiences feel richer.

I once came across an article that spoke about travelling as a means of escaping life. While I didn’t agree with it then, and don’t now, I do understand the logic behind it. Sometimes, we travel because we’re restless. Restless to see the world, restless to discover ourselves, but restless nevertheless. But when I realized how much I enjoyed being here and now, in this current life that isn’t a change of scenery every week, I began to love it. Creating content can be exhausting, and I had begun to look at it as a side-product of travel. Something I had to do in order to sustain a lifestyle that allowed me to travel. But staying put and investing time in things that improved my content delivery, I began to enjoy creating content, and suddenly, travel became a by-product of that (instead of the other way round). I believe that reflected somewhere in my work, because a lot of new brands approached me and a lot of followers sent me personal messages. And somehow, it’s been liberating to enjoy the work instead of the rewards.

Of course, there was the question of not having enough content. That’s a catch every travel blogger has to deal with. Unlike the fashion industry or the food industry, after a point, it’s important to be on the go a lot, to be able to come up with fresh content. Since our audience comes with low attention spans due to a constant stream of content online, we need to keep up with it. The thing that worked for me, was that I have an entirely different set of followers on each platform, with barely a 10% overlap between different social channels. And that can be a challenge- because IGTV and FB use vertical videos, Youtube needs horizontal videos, IG stories need constant updates, IG feed needs great editing skills, the kind of content that our audience looks for on each of these platforms is also different. But lucky for me, that means I can generate a lot of different content (one for each platform) from a single trip.

So, with my feet firmly planted inside my adorable new office, I say that travel teaches you many things, but staying put also teaches you a bundle. There’s an opportunity cost to either- and we should pick the one we believe will enrich our lives in that particular place and time in our journey of life. So if you’ve been in the same city all your life- by all means, get out and get exploring. Settle elsewhere. If you’ve been exploring a while, trying to find yourself, pick a place you love and settle there. In either case, commit. Self-discovery doesn’t happen from a series of distractions. Sometimes, just stay put.

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