Backpacking and traveling are predominantly arduous, uncomfortable, and anxiety-inducing. When we see those picture perfect Instagram posts of people traveling the world they represent 1% of the story, willfully glossing over the other 99% (such as the fact that blood, sweat and tears were shed to get to the top of that mountain summit – all in the pursuit of a dopamine hit from the proceeding Instagram likes). The chaos of finding yourself in an alien culture, where you’ve been stripped of all familiarity, is at the time nothing other than a test of survival.
So why then is traveling so rewarding?
Because when we travel we submit ourselves to the accompanying s**t in order to experience those fleeting moments of bliss – the moments that we recall when nostalgically reminiscing about our travels. Nobody arrives home from traveling to share their stories of being ripped off by a local taxi driver or how they got so lost in a place that they started crying.
Life is exactly the same.
What gives our life meaning is our suffering, and what manifests from that suffering. For example when we graduate from university our pride and joy isn’t derived from the fact that we now have a new piece of paper that we did not have beforehand. Instead we celebrate all the hours spent frantically studying late at night, our challenging progress in terms of self-development and maturity, or those lifelong friends we made by placing ourselves in new social environments when we would much rather have stayed at home.
Take parenthood. 99% of being a parent involves doing thankless and repetitive tasks that nobody in their right mind would voluntarily agree to. Yet why is it that parenthood has been proven to be one of the most fulfilling pursuits in life? Because that 1% – seeing your offspring grow up – is so rewarding that the sacrifices which contributed to the end result was worth it.
What should you take from this post?
Embrace life’s difficulties. Don’t feel bad for not feeling happy all the time. Reframe your attitude to all those annoying micro tasks that need to be done on a daily basis because they are ultimately contributing to your desired end goals. Your sense of fulfillment and happiness should be viewed from an overview perspective rather than a fleeting snapshot in the here and now. Nobody wants to go to the bank to fill out endless admin forms, but perhaps that act is bringing you 0.001% closer to the person who are aiming to become.
Every single person on this planet is battling inner demons, in one form or another. Empathy and compassion of this fact will go a long way to contributing to your success and well-being. The next time you see that “i have my life together” post on Instagram, take heart from the reality that what you are seeing is a surface reflection of the proverbial iceberg.
Brian Cronin is the writer behind The Ithaca Diaries – a personal development blog documenting one man’s search for meaning, answers, and a pursuit of the good life. https://www.facebook.com/theithacadiaries/