"Sydney Saved My Life'' July 06 2016
A real life travelling story from Holly Katie
“Traveling to X location changed my life because..” is a rather cliche introduction for my taste. Traveling to New Zealand and Australia did change my life though… no. It saved my life. Traveling there was the key to unlocking my cage set by my abuser and crawling my way into enlightenment. It was the first time I had ever been on my own. In Sydney, I now drank for fun instead of taking shots of gin to sleep at night, because I had such awful headaches from stress. Sydney was a big city without the feeling of heartlessness I grew accustomed to attributing to my hometown.
At the beginning of my trip, my arrival in New Zealand made me aware of how much anxiety I had at the time, though I didn’t realize that’s what it was called. You see, I was on a trip sponsored by Envision Global Forums, who partnered with Phi Theta Kappa, the honors society at my community college. When my roommate arrived at the hotel in Christchurch, not only was she late due to a delayed flight, but the airline also lost her luggage. She asked if she could borrow (a charger, I think), and I shocked myself by realizing I was okay with it. I didn’t feel the need to obsessively guard it like I did back at home.
The few days I was in Sydney, I had grown to love it so much that I was devastated to leave it. I don’t recall ever having a feeling of “being home” before that time. I traveled west, via the Great Southern Rail, to Perth. During that time, I met a chap on the train who, though I barely knew him, gave me the advice I hadn’t heard before: don’t worry what other people think. All of Australia seemed to give off this vibe. People didn’t care about what you did, as long as you weren’t doing anything harmful. They weren’t judging my every move. When I went out drinking with a fellow classmate, my social anxiety of being at a bar of all places was completely gone. [I grew up in a college town where it was normal for people on my street to get drunk, vandalize, steal, rape, commit arson, crash from DWIs next to my house, and all in all be loud, obnoxious and lewd, especially until 4 in the morning]. In Australia, I didn’t worry as much about people stealing my bag or pickpocketing me; I felt safe, and in Sydney I felt home (which is odd, because I’m usually a more back-country type of personality).
When I returned to the states, I could literally feel the stress of all the people in the airport. I dreaded returning; I had grown quite a distaste for the busy culture of New York state. A few weeks after I returned to my parents’, the depression, anxiety, and eternal emptiness I left behind when I traveled came back with a new edge: terror. I was terrified of being in the house in the daytime. I was so stressed that I saw and heard things that weren’t there; I became quite delusional, disbelieving reality. After my taste of freedom from a month in Australia, leaving ASAP was imperative for my sanity survival. I waited until my parents left for a week and chose to move out on the spur of the moment. I don’t regret it at all. The scary thing is, if I had never traveled and experienced freedom of mind, would I still be stuck out there? Would I still even be alive?