Reflections, Part IV

Today I’m writing from a bench in Vienna with greasy Brie fingers and a tad smelly from a 20 hour journey from Lyon. Another hour of exploring and I can check into my hostel and get showered and feel like myself again.

I was hoping to write this post in the bus from Zurich to Vienna, but I ended up sitting next to a very chatty Hungarian fellow and opted to feign sleep for the 9 hour bus ride instead.

And now, here begin the reflections!

For this post I wanted to focus on how to manage things when you’re not loving where you are. In my last post I talked about tips for travelling when you’re not loving the city you’re in, but I really wanted to delve into the topic for my Reflections Series as well. This is something that comes up when you’re travelling, but I think it’s an even more important issue if you’re not loving where you live – I was so fed up with the city I was living in before I decided to simply move away.

Before Lyon the only place I’d felt out of place was Lagos. Lagos was party, party, party, beach, beach, beach, party, party, party, beach, beach, beach and that just wasn’t my style. But that feeling immediately passed once I got to Madrid, a city far too beautiful to feel sad or homesick in. In Lyon, however, the feeling of being out of place and even a little homesick came back. I found Lyon too small, I found the hostel too far from the city centre where I wanted to be, and I found the atmosphere of both the city and the hostel quite unsociable. Granted, I don’t speak a word of French apart from bonjour and merci, and so the language boundary only amplified these feelings.

I found myself reading for about 70% of my time in Lyon, eating the other 20%, and the other 10% trying to look for opportunities to spend my time. I slept a lot too, honestly, just to make the hours go by some days. Of course, some people will have had a great experience in Lyon, but in my case I just didn’t.

Some days I found myself scrolling through Instagram and looking at what other people were doing as a distraction from my own uninspiring surroundings. I found myself on Facebook doing the exact same thing. I was having trouble enjoying where I was, so instead I tried to be somewhere else virtually. Needless to say this didn’t help make my time in Lyon any more exciting or memorable. It just left me feeling homesick and sad.

When I caught myself feeling uninspired my remedies were to eat lots of cake and kebabs, and to read. Tinder was also a great way to get my mind off things and look for people to explore the city with (it’s like free tour guide service when you’re travelling). And luckily, I had a great Tinder date and made a friend from the hostel who’s looking to visit Canada in the next couple years.

I guess Lyon just reminded me of the negative habits I fall into when I’m bored or uninspired at home: I tend to focus on other people’s lives and what other people are doing rather than focusing on the things that will make me happier. I mean, I’m in Europe and I can do whatever I want here! There should be few, if any, reasons as to why I’m not having a great time almost all the time. Of course lonely days are an inevitable part of travelling alone, but I really had to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Especially over Instagram – so many of those pictures are not candid, nor are they a real or accurate representation of that person, they’re just a representation of how that person wants to be represented.

Life is what you make it. So if you’re not happy, do something about it. If eating a chocolate croissant and having a cappuccino is going to brighten you up (like it always does for me), go do that. If eating a kebab wrap the size of your head if going to make you happy (again, this always works for me), go eat the biggest kebab wrap you can find. If lying for hours in a park reading Virginia Woolf is going to distract you from feeling homesick, read for as many hours as your mind can handle. And if going on a Tinder date is also what you need, swipe right to your heart’s content. Retail therapy is generally a good solution too!

This week I really had to remind myself that there’s so many things just waiting to be eaten, read, and admired, and so many people just waiting to be spoken to and conversed with. There are far too many experiences to be had in your own life that to spend your time contemplating the lives of other people via social media just isn’t a proper use of anyone’s time.

Whether travelling or whether living your routine at home, there’s inspiration to be found everywhere. Even when it doesn’t feel like it and even when it seems like everyone’s having a better time than you at a certain moment, if you go outside and try and find something thought-provoking, inspirational, or just tasty, with some intention you can step back into that life you love.

With this mindset for Vienna, I know I’ll have a great time.

Also! In just 5 sleeps I’ll be at Sziget Festival in Budapest and I. Cannot. Wait!