Had you asked me at the end of June what I thought my biggest struggle on this trip will be, I would’ve answered, “travel and health anxiety”. An intertwined force that was sure to push me out of my comfort zone (and it did) which I was convinced would be my biggest hurdle along those three+ months we are on the road. But it was an old companion that came sneaking back, that I didn’t expect to see again and certainly not in that intensity. For lack of a better word/phrasing, I’m just going to say: Bloody hell, I despise the way I look.
A trip like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which needs to be captured forever in as many photos as possible. And that’s where the entire problem lies: I had let the pressure of creating the perfect travel feed get to me. And it is exactly that pressure where my insecurities feel the most comfortable; it’s like the perfect ground for them to be nourished and grow.
As much as I sometimes think I look fine in the mirror, the camera never reflects this in the slightest. Add the problem of angles, light and random people taking my picture and I look at an image of contempt and flaws. Take, for example, this photo here:
One of the happiest moments of my life. Holding that little fluffy bear (or, as I learned, not a bear at all) was a moment of bliss and pure happiness. I have been told a few times that I look super happy in this photo, and that’s not wrong, because I was, but when I look at this photo, all I see is… well, flaws.
I’m not going to point them out, obviously, because who likes to draw attention to their insecurities, but this is not a photo I would normally put on the internet at all. It proved to be one of my most popular Instagram uploads to date, but it made me miserable every time I looked at it. So miserable, in fact, that I considered deleting my entire account.
I wanted to capture the moment of happiness, the moment I’d been waiting for ever since we booked our stay in Brisbane, yet I put so much pressure on getting ‘the perfect shot’ that I’d spent days before the actual visit thinking about what to wear, how to do my hair and which makeup to put on.
And it’s stupid. It’s not something I should have to ‘stage’ for social media, yet here I was, losing sleep over the fact that a) holy heck I was going to hold an actual real-life koala and it would be magical and OMG animals are so much better than humans, but also b) oh shite what if I look like absolute garbage in that photo and I won’t have any visual memories to look at?
Before we left for this trip, I had this image of myself in mind. I was going to get a tan and let my hair dry naturally and prance about in floaty maxi dresses, basking in the warm light of the setting sun, barefoot and with minimal to no makeup on. And, obviously, this would fill me with confidence and I would upload photos to Instagram every single day because now I finally felt free and like myself and all that.
But we’re four weeks in and I’m still as pale as ever, my hair looks like I’m constantly electrified and I haven’t had the chance to wear my dresses and skirts at all, because first we were in countries I wasn’t allowed to dress like a Westerner, and then we arrived in Australia where it’s winter (still nice and mild but not prancing-in-floaty-dresses-weather).
And it left me disappointed and a tad annoyed at myself. Because I’d made my favourite mistake (putting too much pressure on myself and setting expectations far too high) and, once again, it bit me in the bum. Will I ever learn?
I think another part of the problem is that I’d really hoped this trip would make me feel free, it would make me feel more grounded and connected (to whatever I thought I needed connecting to) and I would find my true self and live an unapologetically amazing travel life. But I guess you can’t unlearn all your bad habits just because you boarded six planes in four weeks.
We’ve still got 2.5 months left and I have promised myself, like I did so many times before, that I would leave the pressure behind and finally allow myself to be that grounded, connected, true version of myself, because with all that pressure weighing me down, how can I connect with anything? And also, who wants to look back at a trip like this and only remember the constant thoughts about curating the perfect Instagram feed? Nobody bloody cares, anyway.
Although I fail at regularly uploading photos to the ol’ grid, I update my Instagram Stories quite frequently, so if you’re interesting in receiving more real-time updates, make sure you head over there and give me a cheeky follow.
’til next time x