Inception: a story of a returning traveler, stuck between two realities.

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Inception:  a movie about entering dreams; creating dreams within dreams, making it hard for the dreamer (subject) to decipher what is in fact real or reality. Most of us have had this feeling before (unfortunately without interference from Leonardo DiCaprio); well at least I know I have. Waking from a dream that seemed so real, the first few moments that it takes us to realize we are awake, and where we are, the next few perhaps reeling from the dream that seemed all too real, finally getting up and starting to go about our morning ritual, only to then discover that this too, has been a dream. A dream within a dream. I have had this cycle on loop before; to the point that when I do truly awake, I am so disillusioned and weary as to what is and is not reality, that it takes me more than a few moments to finally believe that I have in fact woken up, and that this is the real world, and not just another dream.




But what happens when we have this feeling IN the real world, in our waking days and thoughts, how can we decipher what is reality according to the norm dictated by the real world? Something tells me that I am not the only traveller to have ever felt this way, but where to from here?...

Traveling, everyone has stories and tales to write about their adventures off exploring the world; but where are the stories about what happens when we finish traveling, the story that continues after the credits finish rolling? There seems to be a big black hole in regards to this; now having recently returned from my travels back to the real world, I maybe understand why this may be the case. To say that it has been an emotional roller-coaster is an understatement of huge proportions. It has been a mixture of excitement and pure joy of seeing my family for the first time in 3.5 years, coupled with an unexpected feeling of loss, and being lost in a world which I no longer feel I belong; and it has all been just a little too much to bear at times.

It was a fear that had been brewing for a while, quietly whispering in the recesses of my mind that ‘I don’t belong anywhere...’ It announced itself fully for the first time when I was living in Florence, our Italian teacher told us to close our eyes and picture home – panic filled me, and my eyes started to well instantly as my mind suddenly screamed out “I don’t know where home is or where I belong!!” It was a simple classroom exercise that sent me into an absolute free fall. After some introspection and trying to put a positive spin on it, I concluded in another blog piece that I can always create a network and home as such, and that perhaps when I finally find the person that I am to be with, I will at last feel at home. This was a nice sentiment and conclusion to come to for myself and the reader (assuming I have some), and helped ease the distress that was warring within; for a little at least... But when you are actually back among friends and family, and still feel outside... well now we are dealing with a fear that has evolved into a whole new and un-tamed beast, which will require a completely new set of skills and handling gloves to deal with.

So how is it possible that when you are among family that you can feel you don’t belong in this world?

For a starter, after 3.5years of travelling, how can you possibly distill your experiences, and explain to everyone all that you have done, and seen. Rather than having a million tales to regale my friends and family with, I instead went mute (which is quite rare for me). I recently spoke with a friend of mine about this who happens to be a psychologist, and he made a comparison to returnees from war – that there were those that went mute, and could not possibly talk about all that had happened in their time away, or there were those that found their voice; he added a fact to go alongside this - apparently those that went mute, on average, died 10 years younger than those that found their voice. Those that found their voice found some small way of not only speaking about  their experiences, but they managed to find a place for themselves, or at least try to assimilate back into the real world.

Now I am in no way likening this to being a soldier returning from war, but it was an interesting notion. I just could not find words to explain to family or friends of family, what it is I have been doing. If I had gone away for a week trip to Italy, I would no doubt be able to recall and explain all of the sights, smells, food, colours, people I had met along the way and crazy scenarios I had managed to get myself into in the utmost detail. But tell me this, how do you distill and condense 3.5 years of experiences, not just all that you have seen and done, but also all that you have learnt?? Because while I am still the same person, I am also so far from the girl that first arrived to the airport with her brand new Kathmandu backpack; I have truly evolved through so many versions of myself, and find it near impossible to vocalize this to anyone that wasn't with me for at least part of the ride. So when someone asks me, “how was it?” the only answer I have been able to really muster has been “yea, really good ay...” This simple question and answer format, and lack of words to describe the lives that I have just lived, has most definitely been one of the contributing factors to me undermining or belittling my own experiences, in effect leading to me ostracizing myself from the current world I am in; maybe I won’t die 10 years earlier, but if I don’t find a way to consolidate these two worlds, perhaps a part of me will die along with the experiences that I am finding hard to re-tell...

Then of course this question comes along “so what are you doing (with your life) now?” – Now I have added with your life in brackets, because maybe they actually said this, or maybe a mix of my own insecurities was inferring this with every single similar question I have been asked. It’s funny, while you are travelling, no one asks you what you are doing with your life; it is like being in a brotherhood, and just saying you are travelling is all you need to enter this sacred brotherhood of wanderers. Ok, so you might get asked “where have you been, or where are you going next?” But even if you don’t know where you are going next – you are just going to “...go wherever the wind blows you...” This is actually considered an acceptable answer, and no one will question this any further; you may even be considered a brave individual for allowing yourself to be open to whatever the Universe throws at you.

However, back here in the real world, while travelling is all good and well; the time has come to put that worn-out Kathmandu backpack to the back of the wardrobe, which will soon be filled with stuff you need now that you are beginning your life in the real world. Here, when someone asks you “where are you going, or what are you doing next (with your life)?” The mere answer, “not sure yet, I’ll just wait and see what the Universe sends my way..."
 is most definitely not an adequate response, and you will most likely be considered a flimsy. SO; “what is it that I am going to do with my life?” Truth is... I have no freakin idea!! I never have. What I have always had is a blind faith that every single experience is somehow inextricably leading me to the next. However, I have absolutely no clear picture about the details, or what my future may look like. Overseas this worked in my favour; once I truly let go and stopped trying to control the outcome, every experience effortlessly flowed into the next and I had the most incredible experiences that even Leonardo DiCaprio could not have dreamt up for me. But try explaining this to anyone back here in the real world... that’s right, impossible, and so... time to go mute again.


I have always said I want to be the author of my own story. I have never worded it in the sense of being the author of my own reality. It has never really worried me too much what others have thought of me; but I guess my reality and the life I have lived has never diverged too far from the well worn path – University, work, travel...

So here I am, back in a world I know as such, but feeling so far removed from this life, that I have been questioning what reality truly is? Have I just been dreaming during my travels and adventures, deluding myself that I can make a living, or lead an extraordinary life that I create along the way? Maybe I do have a problem facing reality - the harsh truth that I am almost 30 and have nothing to my name and no career in sight... Travel in your mid 20’s is readily acceptable, but contemplating pushing it out any further is surely running away from the real world.  This is why I have felt almost like I am in the movie inception, because I am no longer sure what reality is, or whose version of reality I am actually trying to live in.


It’s funny (I use this word in the loosest sense) because I have always been so sure of myself; and though I have never painted a clear picture for myself or anyone else of where it is I am heading, I guess maybe I always seemed confident in a slight life plan. Go overseas, travel, come back and get my life together... maybe open my own restaurant one day, do something with psychology... (sorry Dad law is never gonna be my thing). But being back and still having no clue has left me feeling an emotion I have rarely felt – failure. I have always achieved everything I have set my mind to, so caring what others thought was never in the forefront of my mind. However being back, having nothing and going nowhere makes the concept of failure, very real and tangible in my world now. It is almost like everything I have done and achieved in the last 3.5 years really equates to nothing. Who cares if my career accelerated in London, I managed Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, worked for a leading psychologist in the field of Emotional Intelligence, moved to Italy by myself and learnt to speak basic Italian, was a tour leader in Croatia – where I learnt a few words, and hopefully had some sort of impact on those I came into contact with... Back here in the real world, all that really matters and anyone wants to know is ‘what are you doing next...’  Almost like trying to wake me up from a dream, and remind me that everything I did over there doesn't mean anything if I can’t translate it into something tangible in the real world; because those experiences won’t put a roof over my head, feed me, let alone have me sorted for retirement...



Is this just a side effect of wander-lust, which will eventually fade, just as my tan and memories are? Or have I somehow left myself stuck in limbo in between these two worlds, because as yet I have not committed to either world. Is it permanent? Or will one reality eventually override the other, and I will one day wake up feeling as though the other world was just a far and distant dream; and while the memory of the dream may stay with me through the morning, and maybe even into the day, by the time night falls, the last traces of this feeling fall with it and I will once again fully be immersed in this world? But what if I don’t want this? Is it possible to live between two worlds, or do they need to slowly melt into each other? Mind creates our actual reality; so what if I choose for my reality to be outside the norm, away from the well-worn path? Why should I feel the need to justify this to anyone else?

Fear. Vulnerability. These are the only things ever stopping us from creating our own reality, and from being the author of our own story. Everything in us is programmed to resist change, which is why the majority of us stay within the status quo; because when we put ourselves out there, and move away from the tried and tested, we leave ourselves an open mark for the critics – and no one wants to willingly put themselves in this position.

Normally I like finishing on a positive note, some sort of insight that by the time I reach the end of the piece, I have had time for reflection and have reached some sort of conclusion or inner-piece within myself. But I have none here. Why? Because I am still teetering on the edge of each reality, balancing nimbly in the middle here, and I am no closer to having an answer; and you know what, that is ok, this is real. We don’t always have the answer or insight, but what I am getting more sure of is that this is something I need to ride out, just be; be with this feeling, be with this emotion and be with this uncertainty; because like every other emotion it is natural and a necessary process of one of life's change agents. There are very few of us who know exactly where it is we are going and what we want out of life. If you happen to be someone that is doing what they thought they would always do – and not only that, but loving it; then big ups to you my friend. But for the rest of us, I guess we just have to trust that we’ll get there. Like I said, I have always had a weird unwavering faith in where I am going, even when I have fallen so far from the path that I may as well have been Gretel leaving breadcrumbs to find it again... But I just have to trust that all of the pieces are slowly gathering to make one freakin amazing, brightly coloured, crazy patchwork puzzle of my life that finishes in a collage of me smiling smugly like Mona Lisa.



Dam it. I still seem to have finished on a slightly positive note. Seems I just can’t help myself; but don’t be fooled, I am still freaking out, mild panic attacks, and tears from time to time – I would be lying if I painted myself as a perfect cool, calm and collected individual. But I am ok with this. I have, and am experiencing every shade of me there is. And while it hurts at the time, like right now... this is me, this is my life, and I will try my very best not let anyone else dictate what MY true reality is.

I have to add this quote below, because I just saw it in a blog from one of my beautiful friends; who has a much more uplifting tale of returning to her life after traveling - which I highly recommend everyone to read: http://befearlessandhopeful.blogspot.com.au/






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