Isn’t it funny how awkward it can feel to disagree with advice the world keeps shouting at you? In just about every corner of the Internet I seem to run into ‘motivational’ articles imploring me to travel now while I’m young and free! ‘What are you doing staying in one place??’ they ask, ‘Grab life by the balls before you’re tied down in the straightjacket you call home!’
Instead of feeling motivated, I feel pushed around and scolded for craving attachment. The idea that youth is only well spent gallivanting across the globe is so engrained into our society that I feel like I’m being shamed for wanting to ‘waste’ some precious holiday time right here at home.
I think of this as the ‘Roots and Wings’ dilemma, as it was so gracefully articulated by Yip Harburg:
‘My heart wants roots,
My mind wants wings,
I can not bear their
My point is that whether you feel like globetrotting or nesting, both choices are valid. Both experiences are rewarding. I’m not saying all travel advice is wrong – travelling can be incredible and the opportunities to have amazing border-crossing, mind-broadening experiences may be most plentiful in your youth. But that doesn’t mean that you should feel silly, boring or inadequate for wanting to invest in your roots at home instead of splurging on a holiday.
The problem is that the pressure to travel feeds on our common anxiety that we are not ‘living life to the fullest’. We have to remind ourselves that to a certain extent it is the tourism industries taking advantage of that sentiment to make us feel like we must travel, travel, travel! Time spent staying home is cast as a stagnant, inferior, non-adventure, and a waste of our youthful opportunities.
It makes being ‘tied down’ by family, career and solid connections seem like something to be avoided. And it makes the time we spend saving our dollars in between our travel holidays seem like it should be just that: ‘time in between’. So while the hype keeps telling us we’ll be happier while travelling, it keeps reinforcing the idea that life in your hometown can never make you so happy.
This mantra dismisses the virtue in delving deep into the roots of a place. Home is an experience that I have decided to embrace. I want to enjoy my relationships, and have the opportunity to nurture new ones. It’s easy to forget how tiresome the succession of disposable friends you meet along your trip can be, just as it’s easy to undervalue how rewarding your well-rooted relationships at home can be.
At home, I can enjoy the empowering familiarity of my city. I get my coffee down the road most days at the café where I work, and I’m always met by smiles. My sister tells me she feels like a celebrity when she comes in with me because everyone is so excited to see us. When I’m working or walking at the beach the locals know me by name. Everyone is happy to be there and happy to see each other.
I have my favourite yoga studio. My favourite spot on the beach. My best friend and I have scoped out the best sushi train in town. I have people here who I am lucky to pass my time with. The choice to dedicate your time to your relationships is valuable. By staying in one place, I’m also opening myself to nurturing new relationships, perhaps falling in love and building something from scratch. It’s amazing the things that standing still can bring into your life, as you create an environment for yourself in which you thrive.
I also have so much yet to explore and discover in my own city. I may not technically be on an exotic holiday, but life should still be treated with excitement. There is so much opportunity to be amazed if you just embrace all the opportunities to explore food, art, passion, career, adventure and love, wherever you are. There are plays to see, bands to listen to, bars to try, picnic spots to be discovered, people to meet, careers to be built and countless meals yet to be tasted.
My next adventure could be a max-out trip across South America, or South-East Asia, or Western Europe. Or, it could be moving out of my parents’ home and having a real taste of independence, trying out life in the city, taking steps towards a career that might interest me and discovering what my city has to offer. It’s all about treating wherever you are as an adventure.
Travel should be a choice driven by desire, not ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ or some mythical promise that flying across the globe will solve all your problems and is the only prescription for happiness. Choosing to stay home can be a great adventure if you embrace the excitement of the life you are surrounded by and learn to treat your home as a place to be explored. Life is an endless variety of adventures and there’s no shame in choosing roots over wings.