Wanderlust is something you hear about often. It’s tattooed on random bodies everywhere. But to someone like me, it isn’t just a word. Being a drifter is this feeling that’s in the back of your mind every single day—or taking over your mind completely. It’s the desire to travel somewhere and get away from your normal life. To explore and see new things and meet new people and try foods with names you can’t pronounce.
It’s a feeling that drives me. Whenever I get stressed out about life or overwhelmed with work, I know I have this passion to explore the world that’s going to take me places. It gets me excited! Some people do exercise for stress relief, some people have hobbies and I have dreams that I know I’m going to make come true. Whether I get to make those dreams happen quickly or not, it’s encouraging to know that I have the power to both create those dreams and fulfill them, being a drifter.
Some might call it a disease, but if that’s true, being a drifter is the best disease anyone could get. Watching every day go by with the same routine is almost painful. The cubicle walls seem to get smaller by the second and my eyes seem to flicker to the clock more and more frequently. Time drags on when you’re itching to be somewhere else. Even if I try something new where I live, I often find myself wishing I was going that thing in a new place.
The people in my life make it more bearable and I can’t deny that it’s always nice to have a place to call home. But I don’t look forward to spending my time there like some people would. It feels like a stasis point until the next adventure. My Google searches are filled with plane tickets, trips and study abroad programs that I stare at longingly. I contemplate asking for a week off and just going almost every day when I walk into work. A week away is never enough time, but at least it’s something.
Sometimes it goes even further and I think I should sell everything, quit my job and just leave, making the entire world my home. I think of how I could accomplish it, taking odd jobs at each destination until I have enough to move on to the next place on my checklist. I always reel my mind back in, but maybe one of these times I won’t stop myself. Other people do it, so why can’t I? What’s holding me back? I wonder if it’s the fear of not having that home base to come back to.
Day trips and mini vacations typically hold me over for a little while. I get impulsive and sometimes day trips just happen. I won’t sleep and will drive all night. It’s not because I want to, it’s because I need to. I have to go at least a few hours away, to somewhere unfamiliar, at least for a little while. Without this I go insane. I’m restless and pacing, wanting to do a million little things that’ll break me out of the routine. It’s like having an itch that I can’t scratch.
Or sometimes I’m the complete opposite and I just retreat into my own little world, escaping through the means of books and TV shows. It’s always said that reading a good book or hearing a good story can transport you, and I’ve found that to be true for myself. The trick is finding that story that hooks me. If I’m trying too hard to be invested in something just to distract myself from where I want to physically go to, it only makes me more frustrated.
I’m that friend that’s up for anything. You want to go skydiving? I’m in. I’ll try that new exotic restaurant down the street with you that everyone is scared to try because it’s different. I’ll make you different foods from my journeys and teach you the things I’ve learned. There’s a wealth of information in my mind just waiting to be let out. I want you to love the countries I’ve visited as much as I do and I want you to catch this wanderlust bug too.
That’s definitely a thing on my bucket list—find someone who loves traveling as much as I do. Even if it’s just for one trip, I want to share this wildly exciting thrill that I get when a new country appears outside the window of my plane or when I drive across the boundary of a new state. I don’t mind going on an adventure by myself, but I know there has to be someone out there that I’ll just click with who will love wandering as much as I do. Maybe even more!
Other than that, I have loose plans for my future. I know I should settle down, get married and build a house somewhere. That’s what my parents expect me to do. That’s what everyone else expects me to do too. It’s sensible, practical. And I don’t disagree! Building that savings account while I have a family to love on sounds like a good way to live, but I wouldn’t be satisfied.
If I ever got the chance to travel, I would want to drop all that in a heartbeat. Leave the kids alone with my spouse and jet off somewhere, but that would never be able to happen. That’s why I’ve decided when I’m about to choose who I end up with, the most important thing I’m going to look for won’t be similar hobbies, shared friends or identical beliefs. Whoever I end up with has to understand my restless soul, and maybe even have one too.
I’m not going to stay in one place and build a dream house and have a big family. That’s just not who I am. But I’d follow the love of my life to the edges of the earth if they wanted me to. I’d go on any adventure they decided to take. That’s really a skill, if you think about it. It’s good to be flexible and ready for anything. I don’t want to risk losing that part of me.
I’ve learned that true friends and family accept you for the free-spirited person you are. They aren’t offended by the wistful, faraway look in your eyes when they’re talking to you because they just know. It’s not their fault. You’re listening to what they’re saying, but at the same time you’re on another continent. They appreciate the time you spend together so much more because they never know when you’ll be leaving again.
That’s also something that’s caused some pain in my past. People who are the opposite of me just can’t understand. I get the idea that routine is safe and if it works for you, that’s great. But it’s hard for those two opposites to mesh well, and I’ve had to learn that the hard way with a few friends. I always tried not to take it too personally. That’s something you’ve probably experienced too, being a drifter.
I wouldn’t change my wanderlust for anything. It wouldn’t feel right and I wouldn’t feel like myself without being a drifter. I’m meant to be a floater, drifting around the world and seeing what I can check off of my bucket list next. It’s part of who I am, it’s what makes my heart beat. I can’t deny myself something that makes me look forward to tomorrow.
If you’re the wanderlust junkie then you should embrace being a drifter. Don’t let anything try and change who you are. If you’re just in the life of one, don’t pressure them to be someone else. Everyone wants to be loved for who they are. Let them go. When they make their way back, they know you’ll be there for them.