Close to three years ago, I wrapped up my first big trip across Europe. With the flights already paid for and my Schengen visa running out it made the most sense to retreat to Canada. I spent less than a week in Edmonton, Alberta (where I went to school) before deciding that my old life wasn’t right for me anymore.
Looking back, I kind of had this smug feeling about it when I decided not to settle, like I had discovered this way of tapping into the dream life. It doesn’t actually work like that though. It hit me a while ago, but I couldn’t put it into words until today: there is no destination and there are no winners.
The way I live has become a way for me to get to, or achieve happiness- the way you live is how you do it. If I spend my life trying to live faster, slower, more exciting, or more relaxed than I would have if things had gone differently all I’m doing is comparing my life to the life I’ve spent the past 2 years running away from.
Fact is, the life I’m running away from was never the wrong choice. My decision to leave (again) yielded me happiness in some ways, but a decision to stay would have given me happiness in other ways. The whole time I’ve been travelling I’ve been comparing myself to others and assuming they were not happy because they were not me.
I’ve stopped checking Instagram, hardly been active on Twitter, routinely emptied out my Facebook, and neglected posting to my WordPress and Tumblr. Ditching these habits has all happened so gradually and for the most part, unintentionally, that until recently I had not realized I was living as a digital hermit. Once I started realizing that comparing myself with others was making me unhappy I started sharing less and less, so that there was nothing to compare.
Maybe I need to focus on trying to do one better than myself, the person I was last week. I need to quit comparing myself to the version of me that came home in August 2013 and got a “real” job.
I chose the paths of minimalism and travel as a way to live a more meaningful life, but until now hadn’t realized that there isn’t only one way to do it.