This is a more serious topic than usual, but one that I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks. I’ve been reading a book called ‘Selfie: How the West became self obsessed’ by Will Storr and on the second read through I latched on to something called ‘Social Perfectionism’ and it got me thinking about mental health and travel.

I’m going to start low, end high and throw in my own experiences.

Travelling to escape / Travelling to find yourself

I began thinking about this because of a Kristen and Siya video. I hear it more and more often, people travelling to escape, or to find themselves. There is some truth to this which I’ll get to later. But it’s also a giant pit fall. If things aren’t going well in life then putting an expectation on a short trip abroad to fix that is setting yourself up for failure. Mental and spiritual growth takes time, and work. It’s more than just sitting on a beach or taking an introduction to yoga.

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However travelling can be transformative, you tend to allow yourself more introspection, use technology less, engage with people more openly and make more time for yourself. There are so many great things that you allow when you’re travelling, but it begins with you. If you don’t process and explore your problems they’re still going to be waiting for you when you return. Self acceptance doesn’t happen over night, it’s not something you find and have for the rest of your life, it’s something you have to continue to explore and engage with after the travel stops. But calming the noise of work, money, family and relationships can definitely give you a better head space to explore and open up to your feelings.

My mental health / Am I happy?

So to back up a little, I was talking about ‘Social Perfectionism’. It’s something that is correlated with suicide and is basically (very basically) seeking perfection due to the expectations of others. There was a period in my life when I struggled with my mental health and wasn’t very vocal about it. This lead to regular messages from people saying “omg, I’m so jealous” or “you’re living the dream” etc. I felt somehow ungrateful or broken because I had so much, but was still unhappy.

Social media is a weird game. If you strut your stuff you’re portraying a one sided view of life that only serves to make others miserable. Yet when you open up on a bad day you can get labelled as attention seeking or over-sharing.

 

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I’m fortunate enough to be in a good place in my life, but there are times when I look at someone’s Instagram and think ‘wow they’re travelling’, ‘they have money’, ‘they have a beautiful partner’, ‘their life must be amazing’! Maybe you’ve done the same?

People struggle for so many reasons and in so many ways. It’s easy to forget that just because someone might not have the problems you have, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a whole different set of problems that may appear negligible from the outside.

The beauty of travel

What I’m trying to say is travel isn’t a fix all solution. It isn’t instant happiness. Spiritual enlightenment. Guaranteed tranquillity. But it can be the most amazing experience of your life. You open up to yourself and the world in a way I struggle to replicate in my every day life. You can meet open minded people and give yourself deeply and authentically. You see and experience things you’ve only imagined and give yourself the time and space to spread your wings.

 

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But if you’re not doing so great, whether you’re travelling or not, it’s ok!

Don’t let me deter anyone from ‘escaping’ or ‘finding themselves’ via travel. I only seek to alleviate the pressure and expectation of feeling like you have to feel happy if you’re travelling. Nobody expects perfection.

I’m always open to talk!

Love, Kallum <3

 

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