I woke up Saturday morning overcome by homesickness. That same morning I boarded a bus that would take me to the top of Sweden and the furthermost point I had ever been from home. 13500 kilometres away from where I was born. More than 24 hours flying time from my family. A frozen place buried in snow, when all I wanted was to smell the heat in the air. To be comforted by a landscape that was as sunburnt as the sandgropers soaking up the sun on Perth’s scorching beaches.
My world has a way of doing this, humouring me. I hadn’t been homesick for six months, then just as I’m about to set off on an exciting adventure, it stabs me with surprise. These contrasts seem to have a way of bumping into me whilst travelling.
-Travelling made me realise that the place that frustrates me the most is the one I miss the most.
-Travelling made me realise how much I can control and simultaneously how much I cannot.
-Travelling made me realise how different human beings can be, yet at the same time how similar.
Since leaving my hometown it often feels like my world has been completely spun on its head. Other times I feel like a bored school girl spinning the classroom globe round and round with her index finger. It doesn’t really matter where the finger lands it’s always the same pattern, the same pace, the same girl. I can pick any country I want but that globe is still held in place by it’s brass frame, it’s not going anywhere. I’m still bound by the rules., by gravity, by reality.
I think it was this realisation that kick started my homesickness. It doesn’t matter how far I go, some things will never change. Even in a new environment you’re still confronted by the same let downs, the same frustrations, the same people in different guises. The only thing is your expectations are much higher; you’re trying so hard to create an experience, busting for a better life where you make the most of everything and leave no potential unexplored. Being in Sweden has thrown dazzling happiness at me, but that shine also lights up the dark corners, revealing what is lacking or what I’m trying to ignore.
Living abroad was supposed to change my life. And it did. But people are still people no matter what accent they have. We’re all bound by our habits, our fears, our assumptions. We’re all living preemptively. How we experience, is determined by the ideas we already have in our head, what we’ve decided is good for us, our past, how we want our future to look. I’m certainly guilty of hastily slapping labels on people or situations, making them fit in with the reality I want to create. And being disappointed or angry when they don’t.
So it’s made me question if human beings really are good at making their own decisions. Are we good at being happy? So often we are stuck in lives that we’re unsatisfied with and often it’s our own choices that lead us there. It stings when I find myself in a different situation, a different culture, different people yet with the same outcome.
It makes me feel like a hamster naively running on a wheel. It doesn’t matter if I sprint, walk, or star jump; I can change my behaviour as much as I want, but nothing will really change. It feels like no matter how hard I try, my life is completely out of my control. This is a frustrating feeling for someone who wants to make things happen not wait for things to happen.
So it leaves me asking, what should I do? Lower my expectations? Accept? Not be hungry for more? Be realistic?
Well sometimes I don’t like the reality I’m given. So I’m going to hold onto the hope that I can create my own.
Maybe that hope is a lie. But I’d prefer to believe in a beautiful lie and I have to believe I’m deserving of that lie too. All I can do is keep trying to forge the life that I want, regardless of the reality around me. I can take inspiration from Kiruna, a place that feels like it’s stubbornly decided to exist even though the elements are against it.
All I really have control over is how I choose to perceive the world, what I choose to make of it. I hope that some day I’ll meet people that will prefer my version of the world too and come join me. But ultimately I can’t force that, all I can do is decide who I am and what I want. Being bold and reckless and taking risks, that’s who I am. Part of that means picking myself up when they don’t pay off. Like this morning when I realised too late that taking the unbeaten, cross country path with snow as deep as a basketball player wasn’t the best plan. But these slips and set backs and moments of homesickness are the price I pay for taking the path less travelled. Maybe it’s not so safe, but I’d prefer to unknowingly be walking towards a dragon’s den with hope in my heart than sitting still, settling for a reality that doesn’t make me happy.