About a year ago, I was packing for a six-week trip to China where I would be facilitating two groups of youth sight-seeing and volunteering in Rural China.
Except, one week later and I was back home.
Even though a year has passed since this trip-that-never-was, I still find myself going over things in my head, processing events and questioning what happened. I have told my story about why things happened a million times to a million different people – I don’t care to tell the story again at this point. But there’s definitely still a lot I haven’t made up my mind about.
One thing that really shook me up was that this was a “travel failure”. I’ve had lots of mishaps and changed plans on past trips but I’ve never really cut a trip short – I’ve never failed a trip. But this one, I failed. And it wasn’t just a personal trip, this was a work trip.
That freaked me out. Actually, it still freaks me out. Travelling was my thing. I prided myself on my travel stories, my countless airplane rides, ability to pack everything in a carry-on bag, etc. How could I be bad at travelling?
And, if I’m being perfectly honest, it embarrasses me. Like most humans, I don’t like to fail. Those next couple of months at work were really hard. Everyone knew I was supposed to be in China for 6 weeks but all of a sudden, I was home and no one, including myself, could quite explain why. I hated coming into the office everyday and I hated telling the story of what happened to every other person in my life.
Now if I’m being really really honest, this whole thing scares me. My experience in China was a first time for me. I’ve never been so emotional, have never had so many uncontrollable events happen and have never wanted out or needed out so badly. And that terrifies me. What if that happens again on my next trip?
The idea of relationships comes up a lot when I think about China. While I was struggling over there, I relied so heavily on my friends, family and co-workers. I had many a teary Skype conversation with my parents and boyfriend, and countless messages of support from my friends and co-workers. And after its all happened and I’ve left my job there (not solely due to the China trip), I definitely feel that I’ve lost the closeness I had with those same friends and co-workers. I guess that is a natural part of leaving a job but I miss those wonderful people being such a huge part of my life. The last relationship part about China is one of the fears I’m not even ready to admit to myself: a small part of me thinks my new relationship was pulling my heartstrings home a little too hard and I hate that I may have let that happen.
A year later and I’m still full of questions. I haven’t finished processing this whole thing; I don’t know exactly what it means. And I don’t know exactly why it happened. I don’t know if I made the right choices. I don’t know if my emotions got the best of me. I don’t know if I will feel this way again with some other experience in my life.
I do know that I’m a lot happier a year after the China debacle. So much in my life has changed since then: new job, new apartment, new neighbourhood, new friends, etc. that I’m not sure would’ve happened had I stayed. I had a great summer with friends and Colin in Vancouver – something I would’ve missed if I was in China. I have some regrets, and definitely some questions, but I do think, overall, that coming home was the right decision for me. I’m slowly learning to think of my week in China as less of a travel failure and more of a life lesson – I just don’t think I’ve figured out all of the teachings yet. And I’m confident that one day in the future I’ll be able to look at a flight deal for China or picture of the Great Wall and not cringe 🙂