It's Okay To Feel Whatever You're Feeling
Updated: Feb 6
I'm sorry to have left it so long since my last blog post. But, truthfully, it's been hard to know how to proceed as a "travel writer" now that travelling is on an indefinite global pause...
It's been difficult to gage whether the aspiration for travel still exists in this moment; whether people are finding it soothing to look to the future or reminisce about past trips, or if they'd rather just not be reminded that their dreams are currently on hold.
For me, the nuances of my mood ebb and flow. Some days, I am energised and inspired and hopeful; brimming with anticipation for the adventures that await beyond this pandemic. But other days - maybe even most days - I can barely summon the resolve to scroll through Instagram because it's too much like rubbing salt into an open wound. Right now, as I sit at home writing this, I should be in Oman with my husband: climbing mountains, whale-watching and chasing sunsets in the desert.
But this is simply how it has to be for the foreseeable, and I know that. This is necessary for the world to heal. There is no room for my selfishness in this story. However; that doesn't make what I'm feeling - what you're feeling - any less valid. The disappointment, the helplessness, the anxiety, the anger, the grief - it is completely okay to feel all of it.
This may not work for you (which, again, is totally understandable) but something I find really comforts me is imagining how much more heightened our experiences are going to be when we come out the other side of these strange times. The things we all took for granted before - like hugging our families, going to work, taking a holiday, seeing our friends, eating out, getting a haircut, riding on crowded public transport, negotiating busy streets, visiting museums and theatres and art galleries, going shopping for things other than soap and loo roll - it's all going to feel pretty bloody incredible after months and months of lockdown! Never again will we forget or forsake how lucky we are to be free.
I picture myself standing in an airport again for the first time since the travel bans have lifted, remembering that they are literal portals to other lands. I fantasise about feeling unfamiliar ground under my feet, instead of lino flooring or the pavement of my local high street. I visualise walking unfamiliar paths, sitting in an unfamiliar car with Mr B driving down unfamiliar roads, exploring unfamiliar places, tasting unfamiliar food in unfamiliar restaurants, buying unfamiliar things in unfamiliar shops and sleeping in unfamiliar beds surrounded by unfamiliar sounds. I can already grasp a tingling in my senses for the excitement that is to come. And it is so worth waiting for.
All that being said, I cannot stress enough that this positivity doesn't always win out over my intrusive thoughts. The only constant I cling to is that I treat myself with the kindness and patience that is essential to navigate this particular emotional tidal-wave. Which means putting no further pressure, limits or restrictions on myself other than what lockdown requires. Which means that I can't promise you I'll be posting every week going forward, because there'll be days when I'm just not in the right frame of mind. And that's okay.
You will be okay. This too, like everything, shall pass. And the adventures we have when it does will be the stuff dreams are made of, because we've had months to map it all out. Those adventures will fill the pages of the next generation of novels, magazines and memoirs. They will be the stories that inspire our kids, our grandkids, and the people we meet in hostel kitchens. They'll be our trips of a lifetime. They'll be our Odyssey.