I remember the page-long list of blog title ideas I rattled off sitting on the carpet in my older sister’s room. I’d read off some, and soon enough Taylor said, “Stop. Round Trip, I like the ring of that.” And a baby was born—my blog baby was born. (Motherhood gets to ya, man…) And in that moment, I could have never envisioned the future for this nook on the world wide web.
Three years later, she’s still chugging along. In this time, I’ve grown my readership, social media and brand partnerships. And my proudest accomplishment: publishing a book on Amazon.
I think about where I was that day I crafted my blog title and what a different person I was. Lunch table talk consisted of school dance drama, yearbook story drafts and dreaded AP Lang assignments. Each Instagram photo included a very noticeable filter, my sassy hand-on-hip and the full face of makeup I woke up early to put on for school every single day.
Looking back, life seemed simpler, but at the time, all I wanted was to be here, to be grown up. Coffee date talk consists of sorority obligations, stupid boys and an educated guess as to how long we can postpone actually doing homework. Instagram posts mean proving to the world that yes, I do have a life and can pull off a so-called effortless soft smile.
Sometimes that girl from three years ago seems like a stranger. Yet there is a common thread throughout this “who am I?” journey—Round Trip. As far away as that day my blog all started is, I still feel the title fits; in fact, I feel like I’ve actually grown into it.
A round trip is about embracing the unknown; it’s about discovering the world around us and our relationship to it. Our journey shows us where we’re supposed to be and what we need to learn. We begin to see that some things that seemed so sure, so right just simply aren’t so. The path we intended to take or bent over backwards to make happen led to a dead end.
It’s easy to arrive to a new destination or stage of life and think we can just start over. But I’ve learned there’s no such thing as a fresh start. We fly thousands of miles in hopes of leaving baggage behind—pain, hurt, shame, loneliness. But I’ve learned you can run halfway around the world only to find all the trash you tried to burn somehow snuck past security. I’ve learned you can unfollow them, manipulate your schedule to avoid them, eat in hopes of feeling full again, delete old reminiscent playlists, redecorate your room, cut your hair, get a piercing, buy a new wardrobe—the list goes on—yet their ghosts keep you wide awake at night and creep into your nightmares.
And while travel can’t separate you from the chains bolted around your wrists and ankles, it does give you distance. It gives you the space to process, to think, to reflect. You choose to temporarily step back from the familiar and comfortable to explore the unknown and “uncomfy.”
A round trip is not without wrong turns, flat tires and long lines. But it’s in these mistakes, setbacks and waiting that we begin to explore not only the world around us, but the explorer herself.
Sure, there are some moments not worthy of the scrapbook, but the worthy moments outweigh those. The temporary ache from the hike pays off once we reach the top. The sweat from the long walk to the beach fades to black as the cool waves tickle our pedicured toes. The years we’ve spent learning a foreign language pay off when we successfully order coffee in the country’s native tongue.
To some, Round Trip is just a blog, but to me, it’s pushing me every day to see life as a journey, to not let wrong turns define a trip, to find beauty and adventure in the world around me. And more than the destination, to see the traveler as she is—strengths, flaws and all.