I’ve recently given some thought to the concept of “wanderlust”: cursively decorated across t-shirts and tagged all over perfectly captured Instagram sunsets, it’s become a lexical trend that’s hard to miss.
Many experience this phenomenon, myself included, but I relate especially under the consideration of its Google definition: “a strong desire to travel i.e.: ‘a man consumed by wanderlust.’” The operative word here is “consumed,” as though wanderlust is comparable to sickness and affliction.
Like this definition, I don’t see wanderlust as the desire to whimsically experience new things. I don’t see wanderlust as a trip to Thailand, or a flight to Mexico, or as something you tattoo on your foot because you’ve been to Bali one time. For me, wanderlust has nothing to do with the longing to travel and more to do with the need to escape.
It’s not that I necessarily dislike the situations in which I find/place myself—lately, it is quite the contrary. But for me, wanderlust is a result of an inability to feel fully satisfied in any one condition. Having moved from Canada to Australia and back and back again, perhaps I fear stability and confinement. Maybe flightiness and escapism are just ingrained in my nature. But regardless, the end result is the same: at the first sign of comfort and familiarity, my feelings of “Now what? What’s next?” emerge and I grow anxious beneath my own decisions.
I’m not sure if this is a bad thing, necessarily. It has led me to move across the world and create a life for myself, one for which I’ve worked hard and that I genuinely enjoy. So, maybe, wanderlust is a destructive instinct that I’m slowly growing out of, having finally found the right fit.
But if not, I wonder if it’s only a matter of time before the instinct strikes again. What if I am destined to be forever half -present in every life I live: mentally, bags open, ready to be packed? If this has to be the case, then maybe contentedness is stagnant and I have a fear of standing still.