How I’ve felt after nearly a year without travel

So….

Last I wrote, I was headed off to Australia in April 2016. My post was about the adjustment to post-grad, full-time working life and missing the freedom to roam.

In some ways, not much has changed since then. I’m still adjusting to being a real adult and to be honest, I don’t love it yet. I miss spending  a few hours of the day inside in a classroom and the rest of the time walking across a beautiful campus, stretching my legs, choosing how I spent the hour-long breaks between lessons and meetings and rehearsals and work. Now its about spending two hours in traffic commuting to and from work, sitting at a desk indoors for eight hours, getting back home when it’s already dark and making dinner before going to bed. I didn’t like this a year ago, and I don’t like it now.

But if you look at it from the other side of the tracks, a lot has changed since my last post. On October 15, 2015, my boyfriend got a call that the a spot had opened up in Los Angeles for a job he wanted, and after 24 hours of deliberation, he accepted. Ten months later, there were were driving 3,000 miles cross country with our parents to start our new life on the West Coast.

It’s been a strange year. During the months between graduating college and moving to LA, I’ve experienced a range of emotions. I loved my job at a creative agency in D.C., but it wasn’t enough to make me feel fulfilled. I didn’t see my friends. I didn’t have anything going on after work. I would come home and do nothing, or continue working on projects for work to fill the time. I watched a lot of Netflix. I gained a lot of weight. I stopped wearing make up. I saw my boyfriend on weekends but I would feel empty every Sunday night when we would part. I didn’t have any motivation to wake up in the mornings, I didn’t see a greater purpose for everything I was doing.

When I was in school, I had plenty of motivators: work hard in class, get good grades, earn my degree, work long hours to earn money for travel. Everyday I woke up with a mission and at any point in those four years, if you asked me why I was doing something I would have a definitive response. After graduating, I didn’t know what my mission was. Of course I wanted to perform well at work, help my company, help our clients, make a good name for myself, etc. But why? There wasn’t a degree to work towards. There wasn’t an award. And most importantly, there wasn’t a big trip that I was saving up for, because I only had a few days of vacation for the year. That coupled with everything listed in my last paragraph lead to a downward spiral in my mental health.

I felt the symptoms of depression taking over and I did everything I could think of to feel better. I did yoga, tried online therapy, meditated, took up therapeutic coloring, talked to my boyfriend about how I was feeling, even tried vitamin supplements that are supposed to be natural mood boosters. Nada. I still cried at least once a week and donned a painful smile for work.

Okay — I know by now you’re like, “Alexis, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  You have a good life. And besides, you’re in control of your life and if you want change, make it happen!” I hear you. But sometimes when you’re that far down in the trenches, you’re paralyzed; you can see the bright sky up above but you can’t seem to move toward it.

I thought going to Australia would be the answer. It was on the opposite side of the Earth, I was visiting one of my dearest friends and I was finally off of work for several days. But instead of  escaping those feelings, I brought them all with me. I felt tired during the trip, not alive. I wanted to sleep instead of party. I was timid around Sasha’s friends. I ate a lot. It was wonderful to see Sasha and meet her friends, and I did have a good time. But when I got back home to D.C., I didn’t feel any different. It was back to the grind as usual, and I still didn’t understand my purpose.

Still, I knew the move to LA was coming up. I hated to say goodbye to my coworkers, but I was looking forward to new work opportunities. I turned my attention, and my hopes, to that. I thought, okay — warm weather, beaches, art: check, check, check. It’s not Barcelona, or Dublin, or Zurich, or one of the many gorgeous European cities I really wanted to move to, but at least it was different. I drifted through the last few months before the move.

But despite the change in scenery, Los Angeles hasn’t been the solution I was dreaming about. It’s  different, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s smelly. People wear a lot of make up. Traffic is horrendous. Even the pretty streets you see in Instagram photos with colorful buildings and palm trees are wrought with litter and graffiti. My boyfriend travels for work, and when he’s not traveling, he is studying for his accounting exams. I spent my first several weeks feeling lost. I was looking for jobs and felt a new wave of discouragement after going weeks without a hit. As my savings dwindled, I accepted the first offer I received, doing marketing for a family-owned jewelry company in downtown Los Angeles.  It’s been a great position so far, and I’ve enjoyed learning about the industry and applying my creative and digital skills to help evolve the brand. But I still struggle to wake up each day and I coast through the weeks on autopilot, without direction.

ALL OF THIS BEING SAID, I’m still hopeful. I made a new years resolution to invest in hobbies and subsequently joined a choir, registered for a local photography class, and started working out with a personal trainer. At first, being busy felt great — but after a while, I just felt more fatigued than ever.  I’ll continue to try out a schedule balance will work best.

If I am completely honest with myself, I know that no matter what I do, I will never be truly happy unless I’m traveling. The contentment I feel when I’m abroad, in a country where I don’t speak the language, learning about how other people live, is so intense that I don’t think anything else will compare.

So, YBT is back. And she’s planning her next move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Good to see you again. Having lived in the Southwest, for 34 of the last 39 years, I can attest to both the beauty and ugliness of southern California. Graffiti is now worldwide, though, and trash-well, even the indigenous people have issues with disposing of refuse. I would recommend visiting the deserts and mountains of the southwest, as well as the Sierra Nevada- and Mexico. Also, Hawai’i is a six-hour flight from LA.

    1. Alexis - YBT says:

      Thank you for your advice! I’ll definitely add those places to the list. I’m hoping to go to Mexico some point this summer, and Hawai’i — well, someday. And yes, I see both sides of this area. I’m sure with time I’ll be able to peel back the layers to find those gems that will make me happy to call SoCal home 🙂 Happy travels!

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