Picture this: You’re bored and tired of your regular life and you think up a genius solution; a vacation far, far away to unwind and relax and escape a life you do not enjoy.
So, you go on to browse the internet and hunt down the best flight deals your hands can get hold of. You book a flight and the countdown begins – it is officially 34 days until you’re in Hawaii.
The 33 days in between power-walking to catch your train to work, clocking in at work and doing whatever you do on a computer screen behind a cubicle suddenly becomes a blur. The fake smiles with your coworkers become even stiffer. You’re counting down until you’re on the beach in Hawaii and everything else makes little sense at the moment.
Whew! It’s finally t-1 days until Hawaii. You’ve packed a suitcase filled with items ranging from a bathing suit, sunscreen, a nice floppy hat that reads “out of office” and if you’re extra vigilant, a mosquito repellant. You’re ready to go on a vacation, to somewhere much cooler than the city you call home.
Oooh looks like you’re finally in Hawaii. That backdrop looks stunning, doesn’t it? But now there’s one small issue. You only have five days until you are back to the life you do not really enjoy. Okay, now is the time to make every moment count. You do everything, you feel the adrenaline rush, your phone is on ‘do not disturb’ and you’re stuffing your belly with every drop of cocktail you can find in your resort.
How time flies! Now it’s the last day in Hawaii. Oh God, no! Back to your real life (As if what you just experienced was some sort of fake scenario that only happened in your dreams.), back to the boss you do not like, and back to catching that overly packed train ride to work. As the airplane taxis, you feel a slight unease in your belly. Sigh. Back to this awful city.
Soon as you settle into work, you start dreaming of the next time you get to go away. Only this time, it may take another 241 days. You proceed to work harder and harder and harder so that you may now be able to afford another vacation and escape this awful city and repeat the cycle all over again.
Okay here’s the thing…
Apparently, there’s a strange bug that goes around attacking people who just got back from a great vacation. It’s called the “vacation blues” bug.
If you’re on the internet (read: Instagram) long enough, and you scroll hard enough, you’re very likely to see a photo tagged “take me back”. Go on, try it out and see. If you want to double your chances of success, do this on a Thursday, a day when throwbacks are prominent.
Is there something about home that’s unappealing? Or is it the idea that without a killer backdrop life means close to nothing?
I don’t and have never liked the “take me back” culture and if I had a superpower, I will kill it dead in a heartbeat. The truth is, travel is not a cure of a lack of fulfilment in your everyday life. At best, at the very best, it is a temporary cure.
… Then one day, it hits you. A lack of vacation isn’t the cause of your problems, your dissatisfaction is.
I used to be bothered when I didn’t feel the vacation blues. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I complaining about coming back home and why did I sometimes actually look forward to it? I soon realized that this has little to do with whether or not I like my boss or whatever else I may own. It had everything to do with my mindset. It’s taken me a little while to truly nail it down but here’s why I never feel vacation blues, ever!
1.) I live by the concept of time and seasons.
Not sure if this is due to my many involvements in my local church as a child, forcing me to memorize the verse of the bible in Ecclesiastes 3 that says there’s time for everything but I’ve carried that truth with me as I have grown older and continue to navigate through life.
Indeed, there’s time for everything. Time for a vacation, time to bury your head at work and get the job done. Time to plant seeds, time to harvest. Sometimes, your back drop is your messy office desk, sometimes it is the Ko Phi Phi islands of Thailand and that’s okay! In every season, life’s still valid.
2.) I know that a new experience is not the solution to everything.
I’ve traveled- far and wide; internationally and locally and guess who goes with me on those trips no matter how far? Me. It’s always me. And if I am dissatisfied with the state of affairs at home, it translates no matter how far I go, there’s no escaping it. There’s a saying that goes “no matter where you go, there you are!”. Travel isn’t a solution to everything. Yes, the first few days may be exciting but the more you stick it out, the more routine creeps in and now you are back to the place you wanted to so badly “escape” from. You know the real solution? Appreciating your routine life as much as you will a new experience. That’s where the magic truly happens!
Often times we grossly overestimate the pleasure we get from new experiences and underestimate the power of finding meaning in the current ones.
3.) I don’t want to actually be taken back
Don’t get me wrong. That vacation to the Bahamas was amazing. I buried my feet in the sand, I had an unlimited supply of mojito and I partied away at the Atlantis. But forgossakes, why will I want to be taken back that exact same place, to do that exact same thing with the exact same people and the same old me anyway? If I really think about it, I don’t. I’m thankful for the experience and I enjoyed it but the secret to life is to keep it moving! There’s always going to be something else to look forward to, new experiences to make. I’d much rather not be taken back. Thank you, next!
The secret to life is to keep it moving!
4.) I love coming back home!
I like to say that there’s no bed like home bed. None. Home is great if you nurture it and do not spend all your time trying to escape from it. It’s always nice to have a place to hang your hat and the goal for me is to build a life I do not need a vacation from. Nothing satisfies me more than looking around me and seeing what I have built and everything I work so hard for. I take pleasure even in the simple things like walking home to a warm apartment because I had the means to pay the hydro bill. “Happy at home, Happy abroad”. That’s the level of fulfilment I strive to attain; being happy with the little things, the mundane, the routine. That, in my opinion, is real happiness, not some temporary, short-cut fix.
The goal is to build a life I do not need a vacation from.
5.) I love life and I am just grateful to be here!
Above all else, I love life. I love waking up every morning with functioning limbs, a beating heart, eyes that can see, ears that can hear. I love to be living, and I am privileged to be here. Because I do, I do not wish to be anywhere else but where I currently am. I appreciate everything, including that familiar pathway to work that allows me to talk to my mum on the phone longer without having to check google maps for direction, or sometimes finding a shorter route that saves me one extra minute. And if I do want to be somewhere else, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, I can make steps to go there without resenting where I currently am. Loving every bit of my life is how I choose to experience the world.
Post-script: I thought I’d share this post to encourage you and to let you know that it’s okay to not be clad in a bikini with a sunhat covering your face. It’s okay to be in the hustle and bustle of your life, the rise and grind- making ends meet and attending to your adult responsibilities. It’s okay because that is your life. That’s life.
Enjoy the heck out of it!