I have an embarrassing confession to make. Remember that trip I took to Nova Scotia in May? I barely remember any of it. Even when I was writing the travel diary for it, I struggled to recall what we did on any given day.
And, yes, I am aware of how bizarre this sounds. How could I not remember, in vivid detail, my first ever trip to the east coast?
Well, there are a couple of reasons for my memory lapse, and none of them were drug or alcohol induced (not that that would be better).
Hello Anxiety, My Old Friend
First off, my anxiety was quite bad during our trip. Funnily enough, it’s not the flying that brings out my anxiety, I’m actually a really good flyer. On this trip in particular, the non-stop road tripping across the province kept me in a pretty anxious state.
Before we moved to northern Ontario, I loved going on mini road trips on weekends. They were little getaways where we could explore all of the small communities around us.
I thought I was going to love road tripping across Nova Scotia. After all, it’s such a pretty province that is begging to be explored by the road. What I had forgotten was the lesson I learned when I was in St. Lucia last year. When I am truly on vacation, I need to do a whole lot of nothing. I need to sit in nothingness and give myself a break from the near-constant stimulation I receive on a daily basis.
Doing nothing, or next to nothing is the only thing that helps my brain disconnect and reset and feel rejuvenated. Because we were driving every day, it meant we were staying in a new place almost every single night. This meant unpacking and repacking almost every day. This meant I had to orient myself to new surroundings every single day.
This might seem like a fun adventure/challenge to some people. But for me, my anxiety derives comfort and is soothed by the familiar and the known. Road tripping across Nova Scotia gave me the exact opposite of that. Not even once during the whole 10 days we were away, did I feel relaxed or like I was on vacation. I was trapped in a metal box for hours each day, trying to cram in as much as possible. So much so that nothing is really clear from the trip.
Lest You Think I’m Complaining
I know this probably sounds like I’m complaining. It probably sounds like I am ungrateful for this incredible travel opportunity. But, I promise I’m not. I am beyond frustrated and upset that this was my experience. I’m disappointed in myself that I couldn’t have the perfect vacation (if such a thing even exists) because of my anxiety. More than anything, I wish I could have appreciated and enjoyed our trip more.
Vacation Through My Phone’s Camera
Part of the problem was my anxiety. The other part of the problem was my phone. Or, more accurately, the belief that I needed to photograph every moment to death.
What I remember most from our Nova Scotia trip was having my phone in front of my face, trying to capture every moment/destination/meal. In doing so, I was never really able to be present in my actual trip. I was experiencing the trip through my phone.
Now, this is where I insert my standard disclaimer. There is nothing wrong with documenting a trip or a day or a moment in your life. And, in fact, you should do all of the above as a simple act of celebrating your life.
I just overdid it on the trip and couldn’t separate my desire to be on my trip with my desire to photograph it. And, honestly, I should know better at this point. I really should.
No Repeat, Please
I’m going to Europe for the first time in my life this summer. And I do not want a repeat of Nova Scotia. I want to remember the trip. I want to be fully present. I want to actually be there when we’re there.
And I don’t want to ruin it.
So, these are the promises I’m making to myself:
- I promise to take photographs for me, not for my Instagram.
- I promise to give myself permission to relax.
- I promise to give myself some grace when we have hiccups on our travels.
Just by virtue of the trip we have planned, I think it will be easier for me to stay present and keep my anxiety in check. We’ll be spending more time in each location, which will help me feel more settled. and, thankfully, we’ll only have a car on a very small island for a couple of days so that will also minimize my sense of constant movement and uneasiness.
Let’s Be Realistic
Of course, I’m not expecting the trip to be some perfect fantasy land of relaxation and bliss. In fact, I’m sure lots of stuff won’t go to plan. All I’m really hoping for is that I can get out of my own way long enough to enjoy this trip that we’ve spent so long planning.
Do you have any travel plans for the summer? I hope you’re enjoying your summer wherever you are!
Image Credit: Photo by La So on Unsplash