“Don’t be afraid to catch feels
Ride drop top and chase thrills
I know you ain’t afraid to pop pills
Baby, I know you ain’t scared to catch feels”
Calvin Harris/Katy Perry
So I left today. In fact, I’m writing this from 38,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean (though I published this a day later). I won’t be back in Philly (or the USA) for 4.5 months! My longest trip to date has been about 4 weeks so I’m not unaccustomed to being away from home for long periods of time… but this feels different.
The last few days have been fairly normal filled with the last minute arrangements associated with leaving home and trying to spend as much time as possible with my good friends who I won’t see for some time. This morning was really no different until about 1:30pm when I was sitting in my kitchen with no one around and all arrangements made. It was at that point that I was hit with a bunch of different emotions that I didn’t really expect. But, in the words of Calvin Harris/Katy Perry, I ain’t afraid to catch feels! In thinking about this while I waited, I think I figured out the emotions associated with leaving home.
“Catching Feels” #1 – Excited
This is what I wanted after all. Over the next few months, I’ll travel all over Europe for several months and, after a week in Singapore, I’ll finish with a month in Bali, which is one of my all-time favorite places! It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so fortunate to be able to do this!
“Catching Feels” #2 – Normal Travel Stress
Even the most experienced travelers feel some stress before they leave. I went through my mental checklist a hundred times over the last few days making sure that I had checked all the boxes. Bills paid? Passports packed? Car taken of? House cleaned? So many little details need to be handled! It’s at least a little bit stressful… especially when leaving for months at a time.
“Catching Feels” #3 – Sadness
4.5 months is a long time to be away from friends and family. Though I’m sure we’ll all text and FaceTime from time to time, it’s not the same as spending time together in person. Plus, I think being overseas just feels farther away. My family lives in California and I typically only see them 2-4 times per year but I felt sadness in leaving them even farther away. Part of my motivation for writing the blog was to stay connected to them while I’m 9 or more time zones away from them. I hope the blog helps me to stay connected to friends too.
“Catching Feels” #4 – Home Sweet Home
Whether it’s a weekend road-trip or a multi-week vacation, I feel like I always say “it’s good to be home” as soon as I walk in my front door. While friends and family certainly defines “home,” today I also felt sadness in leaving some of the more superficial comforts of home. From sleeping in your own bed to enjoying your favorite coffee shop to lazy Sundays in front of the TV, home is awesome! But I won’t have any of that for over four months. Will I be sad without it? Or will the thrill of new experiences distract me?
“Catching Feels” #5 – Are You Sure!?!
With all of these feelings, I think I started to question my decision to start this journey in the first place. Once I cancelled South Africa, I could’ve done a few shorter trips to Europe and not had to spend so much time away. There’s great uncertainty in what this experience will bring and how I’ll feel at various points along the way. I guess that’s why I wanted to do it in the first place… but that uncertainty is also difficult for me as I’m usually in complete control when I’m at home. Ultimately, I guess this is what self-improvement is all about. In fact, in my first blog post, I wrote that the advice I read from those who have gone on sabbatical before me is to do something that makes you completely uncomfortable. I think I felt a little uncomfortable today… and I guess that’s ok.
In the end, I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’m overwhelmed with new emotions. But these things have a way of working themselves out. I actually got some great advice today from someone that I just met. She told me a story of when she was feeling lonely on a month-long trip. Now the obvious response if you were to talk to a friend feeling this way would be something like: “You’re not lonely. You have great friends at home and are experiencing something incredible with new people in a new place.” However, on this day, she connected with a friend who responded to her feelings of loneliness with: “That’s great! Enjoy it and immerse yourself in the experience of feeling lonely. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll feel something different.” So I’m committing to embracing these feelings and any others that I have along this journey rather than fighting to get back to “normal.” We’ll see how it goes. The pursuit of self-improvement continues…
(Bonus) “Catching Feels” (and Smells) #6 – Annoyed
For the last 90 minutes, the guy sitting across the aisle from me on this flight keeps farting. Seriously!?! This is one feeling I refuse to embrace.