I am, despite a facade, incredibly hypocritical sometimes. I advocate freedom of expression: I love that we can make our own individual choices, do what we want to do, say and think what we want, so long as we don’t hurt others. And yet, from time to time, I’ll read some article in a cheap weekend magazine, with an author who ‘found themselves’ whilst travelling for six months in Africa, with nothing but a backpack and a notebook, and I’ll snort and metaphorically roll my metaphorical eyes. Honestly, I shouldn’t; they’re perfect valid and justified to do whatever they want to do, and if they feel like they ‘really connected their inner selves’, then that’s great — good for them. Still, I roll my eyes, almost instinctively, because (frankly) I’ve been brought up to see these ‘free spirits’ and self-obsessed liberals. The fact that I am whole-heartedly liberal — as liberal as they come — is neither here nor there.
I only actually consciously realised this the other day, and sat down — literally — to think about why I feel and think this way. Why do I roll my eyes (no blind jokes) at these travellers? Why do I almost instantly judge these globetrotters, packing their airline-approved backpacks and jetting off to Europe, to Africa, to America or Australia, Mexico or New Zealand?
The answer is, I just don’t know. It’s an answer which I immediately resolve to change, made all the more ironic by the fact that my absolute dream is to pack my airline-approved backpack, step over the threshold of my home, and know that ahead of me lies, well, whatever I want.
As a young person in Britain in 2018, I can say with a relative amount of confidence that, unless I suddenly become super-famous overnight (I don’t strike myself as an Internet sensation to be honest), I am not going to have a great deal of money to play with. With rising prices on everything — houses, public transport, Nutella —, and university fees, providing I get the grades, money is going to be short. However, my dream is one of travel, of adventure and experience, of meeting new people, going to new places and just living. The boundless freedom of leaving home with a backpack and a passport, taking a train to the airport, and setting off somewhere … else. I would love to explore Europe; I still have my heart set upon enrolling in university within the EU, in France, Belgium, the Netherlands — somewhere exciting and new. I’d love to travel for work: to visit the US, Canada, Australia and Asia, Africa, South America. I am desperate, and determined, to experience these places, to immerse myself in a new culture, a new city, a new community.
How can I, as a self-respecting member of society, internally mock those who choose to be ‘free spirits’, travelling that ow to experience as much as they can, when they are living my own dreams? I’ve come to realise that instead of just hoping that one day, I stop rolling my eyes at these people, I really hope to be these people. Sure, it’s unrealistic: a blind, broke Brit packing up and setting off on a worldwide adventure. But dreams never seem achievable in their infancy — at least, I hope they don’t.