You can’t log on to Pinterest or Instagram these days without seeing a photo of an obscure foreign city, beach, or river, or some lofty quote glamorizing the idea of wanderlust. Usually backed by an aged map, photo of a beautiful landscape or a retro-cute Airstream trailer, these quotes do what all social networks are designed to do: make us long to live a life we could never live. It’s easy enough to apply a vintage filter to an image and slap some text in a little-known font across it describing some idea found from a Google search, and watch as it goes viral as those of us who use these networks desperately try to brand ourselves as believers.
And if you’re like me, when you pin these to your boards or post them to your walls, you imagine the magic of the life portrayed. You imagine bartering in the floating markets of Bangkok, swimming in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, summiting a peak in the Himalayas on the back of a yak, and being constantly, wildly overwhelmed at the magic of what you’re doing. What’s not in this mental image you create? Reality. The swamp ass from a bad plate of pad thai, vicious sunburn from the harsh Mediterranean sun, bitter wind and stench of a one-ton animal. It’s easier to imagine these things as we will eventually remember them when things are back to “normal”; as the glorified version of the past, untainted by the burden of present reality. It’s highly unlikely anyone will Photoshop a photo of the toilet after that Bali belly hits with “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost.”
I’m not saying that dreaming and romanticizing are bad things – I’m notorious for doing both. And I understand the aspirational nature of traveling. I picked up my entire life and moved abroad because of it. I’m just saying that when that familiar feeling of being strapped into place by an invisible leash kicks into place when you see those photos, quotes, and carefully curated images that unintentionally make you feel like your life is lame/boring/not good enough, remember that you’re usually assuming that one small part of the overall experience is the entire experience. I started this blog because I knew there was going to be a lot of bad accompanying the good of my expatriation, and I wanted to share an honest account with anyone who cares to read it. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are the glamorized version of my life in Australia – but this blog is my attempt to not only reveal the amazing photos but also show the figurative “Bali belly” that comes with living so far from home and readjusting to an entirely new life. Minus the toilet photos.