Wherever you are, you are HERE.

I repeat this line to myself a dozen times, day in and day out. For a girl that always likes to be on the go to somewhere over THERE, I have to in order to remane sane.

The first reminder comes when I wake up in the morning here in Boulder, Colorado in which I’m loving this town and the life I’ve built here. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept in the same bed, same room, same apartment, same town for this many months straight in a place that feels like home. Stability, roots, a life greater than what you can fit into a backpack is what I wanted when I got here.

Yet it was just last night I was staring out my window watching the shadows of the trees dance along the edge of my apartment and I reminisced back to the views I had staring out the window of my apartment in Beijing, China in 2010, in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2008, in Cannes, France in 2006.

It’s 2013. I haven’t left the country in 3 years.

Just putting it out there like that …”I haven’t left the country in 3 years,” makes me bow my head towards the ground, lips pinched shut, as if saying out loud will make the thought even more of a reality. I look at my feet in angst, and wonder what I’ve been waiting for …What have I been so fearful of?

Before anything, I am a traveler. Before a writer, or an entrepreneur, or a motorcycle rider, or coffee drinker, or a rock climber. Before all of those other things in my life that I love and that define me, I am a traveler.

And so I ask myself, “If I am a traveler not traveling, then who am I? What is it I really want?

I see photos from around the world from travelers. I look at blog posts titled “22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist Around the World”. I want to see the world. I want to touch every last bit of it. I want to experience it all. I want to see the most beautiful views that exist on this planet.

I want to get on a  boat and sail around the world. I want to live in Italy and work on a farm during the olive harvest. I want to backpack my way around South East Asia and Central America. I want to hike the world’s tallest peaks. I want to learn the world’s most beautiful languages. I want to try every last dish and spice and ingredient of the earth. I am wide-eyed, excited, fascinated most when I think about and do these things. This is when I feel, well, to put it into one, single, simple word …ALIVE.

This won’t go away, and I wish so, so badly it would. I wish I could just stay put.

FLASHBACK TO THE PAST:

Train Travel in China

I suppose I should backtrack to a few years ago, and explain to you why at first I chose to stop traveling.

In 2010 I returned to America after a year spent living, working, eating, sleeping, and being in Beijing, China. I had built a home there complete with a group of wonderful friends, an apartment on the 29th floor that looked over all of Beijing shared with the love of my life, a job that sparked my passion for the outdoors, and a daily life that, while not always easy in a country like China, stimulated, inspired, and enlightened me.

Little did I know that upon my triumphant return to America, that everything would fall apart…

The love of my life would be gone. My group of friends now dispersed to other states or busy with the lives they built for themselves while I was absent. My path in life utterly undefined. Big box stores surrounded me, and I couldn’t find decent Chinese or Thai food anywhere! I’d bump into people and they’d complain about the things they’re so lucky to have, and I never felt so detached in my life.

I was 23, and had no clue what the hell I was doing with my life anymore.

FASTWORD TO TODAY:

Fastword to today

It took me 3 years to be happy. To get settled. To feel comfortable in my own skin. To understand myself. To figure out what I wanted to “do with my life”. To start feeling like a woman with purpose instead of a girl who is lost.

So what am I scared of? I’m scared of digging up all the roots and seeds I’ve planted to create what I’ve worked so hard for, in search of some mystery in the great unknown.

Yet travel is calling to me again. While my head says no, my heart and my gut are slowly but surely winning that battle, and I find myself looking at flights to Thailand, or Nicaragua, or South Africa. My work breaks consist of looking at the price of hostels in different cities around the world, or volunteer organizations around the globe, or travel blogs equipped with all the stories and photo essays I need to make me feel homesick for the world.

JUMPING TO OCTOBER:

making friends

My lease for the apartment that holds 2 comfortable couches in the living room, a double bed with a cute comforter set in my bedroom, coffee mugs in the kitchen cabinets that I love to hold every morning, and a plethora of outdoor adventure gear in the hall closet is ending on October 31st.

Do I stay? Or do I go?

This had been the question plaguing my mind for months now. Will I be signing a piece of paper come October for another year of chatting with good friends on those living room couches and sleeping soundly in that bed? Or will I be handing my dusty passport to an airport official with a pack on my back, butterflies in my stomach, and a destination only somewhat known?

AND SO HERE I AM TODAY:

Well, I’ve made my decision as to whether I’ll stay or go.

And GO I shall, back into the great unknown that is the world we live in.

I am so scared to let go of the certainties in my life I worked so hard to create, yet I I know I’m meant to do this.

I’m scared that…

This sense of community I have in this town I love will be lost as I head to places where I know not a soul in sight.
That when I come back I’ll be lost again like I was last time.
That I’ll miss “home” the way I miss the world right now.
That I’ll want to come back right away, or that I won’t want to come back at all.
That I’ll have to rebuild a new life all over again for the 5th time.

But my fears no longer outweigh everything else the world has to offer me. Leap and the net will appear.

For in the past 3 years…

I’ve learned to ride a motorcycle, and so I will ride across the salt flats of Bolivia.
I’ve learned to rock climb, and so I will free solo boulders above the sea in Thailand.
I’ve learned just how much compassion I have for people, and so I will volunteer at that orphanage in Kenya I’ve been talking to.
I’ve learned how to be a decent cook, and so I will have dinner parties at my new apartment in Chang Mai.
I’ve learned how to do what I love and support myself with it from anywhere in the world, and so I will do that between flights to the next place that calls me.
I’ve learned how to have routines like a morning writing session, and tea and reading before bed, and not forgetting to floss, and so I will do that wherever it is I start and finish my day.
I’ve learned that I love to hike, and stand up paddleboard, and surf, and climb, and longboard, and bike everywhere I go, and I’ll explore the outdoor landscapes of each place I visit, collecting new beautiful views and challenging adventures to look back on.

Maybe these past few years have been all about preparing me for this next adventure. For I know who I am now more than ever before, and I want to see what this chick can do in this world.

I want to see who I am and what more I can become on this next journey.

I know the butterflies won’t go away. But that’s okay. I like them there.

Time to travel again!


Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…


 

About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.

6 Responses

  1. janet

    beautiful! it’s amazing how we can acclimate and re-acclimate. reverse culture shock and then be scared of what lies beyond. no matter what side of the world we’re at, whether ‘traveling’ or ‘home’. i think those resting years are just as important as the exploratory travel years.. because it’s like breathing in and breathing out, and learning to pause. it helps make us stronger for the next adventure.. and even the pause is an exploration.

  2. Katharina Sommerkamp

    Beautiful post, Lauren – it reminds me that, as soon as you feel comfortable, it means that our comfort zone has expanded and so it's time to move on to something new that scares us.

  3. Darla

    So glad to hear that you are taking the plunge again! Anything new, whether going or staying, can always be scary and intimidating, but you are doing it! It sounds like you have quite the adventure laid out in front of you and I’m looking forward to following along!

  4. Joe L.

    I’m in the exact same boat you are! It’s been two years since I backpacked throughout S. America for 6 months and I am aching to get back out into the world. Happy trails!

  5. Amanda Miarecki

    You're fantastic! Captivating even. Your style, ideals, and stories hold my attention. You, my dear, are a wonderful writer. I hope you're having the time of your life!