devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’sown interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself
Another close friend has announced their engagement. You’re super happy for them, but you already have that sinking feeling that you might not be there for it…
I started writing a travel blog because I wanted to help people to take chances, in the way that I had in moving abroad. I wanted people to learn from my travel mistakes and to travel and live abroad with more knowledge than I had when I started.
Sometimes I feel guilty when I travel though.
Guilty for what I’m missing and for promoting a life to others where they might miss out too.
As someone who has lived abroad for most of my adult life, I’m acutely aware of all the things I have missed while I’ve been travelling.
The marriages of close friends.
The birth of close friends children.
Being there for my grandparents as they grow older, and even missing their funerals.
Cementing friendships and building a really solid community around me.
Most of my friends understand it might be a long time before I come home, if I ever do. But I still feel guilty sometimes when I get asked about it. Or when another engagement or baby is announced and I know the chances of my being present for this monumental event in the life of the people I love are highly unlikely.
In a way, I fell into travel and living abroad by chance. I can barely begin to measure how travel has enriched my life. The people I have met and the experiences I’ve had are amazing and I now can’t imagine it any other way.
But sometimes I do think about how it might have been different if I stayed at home. I’m sure I would have formed stronger friendships and ties in New Zealand, maybe even a solid career, but who really knows?
Some friends I’ve met travelling have spoken of how their family and friends don’t understand their desire to see the world. How they had to try and convince them it was a good idea to take this leap to travel, and especially to living abroad. I’m lucky that’s not so much the case for me.
So is it selfish? This pursuing our dreams?
Part of it yes.
Ultimately you travel for yourself. People might be interested in the stories for awhile, but you keep the memories and the lessons forever.
And part of it no.
What good would we be to our family and friends if we wanted to do something and never did? If we constantly thought about how things could be different or daydreamed about a different life, one that included travel, and never pursued it.
If travel and living abroad is something you long to do, then how can it be selfish to go after that? In the same way it’s not selfish for your family and friends to go about their lives doing what they want to do.
Travel is a privilege and one you should take advantage of if you have the desire and the means to do so. Maybe it is selfish, but it can enrich your life and in the process maybe give you the opportunity to give the benefit of that experience to others to.
Choosing to live a life of travel isn’t so different from choosing any other kind of life. Do we call people selfish for doing that? The people that really love and support you will most likely understand this, and accept your sometimes absence from their lives.
Maybe we are selfish to travel, but the ultimate goal should be an overarching ripple effect of good. Through what we might learn along the way, the ways in which we might give back, and how those things can be bigger than just us.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Have you ever felt guilty for travelling?
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