Many of my fellow remotes have already written something about their experiences during the year and come to some conclusion about the meaning of it all. The honest truth for me though is that I don’t know what it means to me yet. My experience was very different from most of the people in our group, and yet I can’t help but see that some of the things I’m slowly coming to conclude align pretty strongly with others. I wasn’t at any of these epic parties mentioned in so many other posts, I’m absent from almost every group photograph, I even ended up missing the last day and the big farewell event. Yet, at the same time, I never felt like I was missing out. No FOMO at all. I explored the cities and countries we were in, met locals, broke far out of my comfort zone, and left with a bevy of stories which I will carefully hold to myself.
I’d love to leave you some inspiring words or tell you some deep secret of the world discovered in my journey. I don’t really know anything though. If anything, my exposure to the vastness and wonderment of the world has left me with a burning awareness of how deep my own ignorance is. For me, rather than a transcendent social experience partying across the globe, this year was more of an eye-opener about how small the world has become and yet how far away we still are from each other, the importance of human connection, and a humbling realization about how futile so many of my intellectual endeavors have been.
I’ve tried to write this post several times now, and in fact, I have drafts of so many other posts that never made it to the blog either done or half-done just waiting for that moment of reflection to come to completion or the courage to say what’s on my mind. There are so many things I’d like to say, to shout to the world, and yet at the same time I have an abiding prudence in me, that knows that it's better to stay silent. Have I learned anything this year? Oh yes, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. I left my home as a hard-working, knowledgeable, self-aware, and generally pretty confident person. I return hard-working, ignorant, questioning, and much more humble than I’ve ever been as a person. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that traveling made me more ignorant, I’ve always been ignorant, I just never realized it. I now have a grasp on how much I don’t know, and I find it freeing but also troubling.
When I returned home after being away for a year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I found was that things had pretty much stayed exactly the same, except that matters of politics and personal philosophy were far more divisive than when I left. The thing that struck me the most though was that before, when I was a part of it, I never realized how negative people are about the circumstances of their life. It hit me full force though upon my return, friends with stable jobs upset because they think they’re stagnating, friends with beautiful families wishing they could leave it behind go on an adventure, friends with legitimate dissatisfaction in their situation but unable to see the obvious ways out. I love my friends with the deepest part of me, but when I was given the opportunity to travel again by work I leaped at it.
Now I find myself sitting here in Prague as I write this. Back again in the city that started my year abroad. There’s another Remote Year group here in their second month, and friendly though they are I realize I can’t emotionally risk making deep-seated relationships with any of them, just as they surely know the same. In just another week, this group will be moving on to Valencia, Spain, and another group will come to Prague, but neither one of them is my group. Even though I wasn’t at any of the parties, and I didn’t show up in any of the group photos, it was the people more than anything that made my time in Remote Year special. As I walk through the K10 coworking space to find a place to sit, I can’t help but peek around door frames and see apparitions as if I expect to find my fellow Dariens in their usual places.
As someone who’s been single basically my entire life, always consumed with work and never giving much thought to relationships or the social aspects of life, it’s a unique feeling to be lonely. I’m not saying I’ve never felt loneliness before, but usually, I find myself enjoying solitude which isn’t quite the same thing. Now though, I’ve opened my heart and mind to the world, stretched free of the limits I’d placed upon myself and I can’t recapture the magic I felt in this city last time around without the friends I made here to share it with me. Too restless and aloof to stay at home after the year ended, I left, and yet rather than feeling consumed by the energy of the city I can’t help but miss all my fellow Dariens deeply.
So what’s next? I don’t know. Probably settle back down at home a bit so I can figure out a way to make long-term travel financially viable. I really need to find a small group of traveling companions that are committed to keeping it going so I don’t need to stop anytime soon. If you came here looking for epic stories or answers to the great mysteries of life, I’m sorry but I have nothing to offer you yet. I’m still figuring this all out myself. I envy the folks in our group who were in their mid-20s during this experience, they’ve got just that much more time in their life yet to discover themselves and mold themselves. It’s an endless journey, and I never realized how little I knew and how far behind I was in discovering my place in the world until I had this experience.
That’s all I can offer for now. Safe travels and peace out.