You’re back from vacation, back to the life you left behind for how ever long and your friends and family start asking the dreaded question:
How was your trip?
How. How. How? Is how the right word? Can you describe the how? What more do you say other than It was great! and hope they don’t ask anymore questions? More importantly, why does this question irritate me as much as it does?
Even Google’s dictionary wants to know how my holiday was.
After being triggered this morning by the question post my Unsettled Bali trip, I realised maybe I was annoyed because I didn’t even answer the question for myself, let alone be able to share the answer with other people. Yes, I wrote about it in 6 parts and described what I did and who I met and how I felt on the trip, but how do I summarise a month, an experience into an answer that will satisfy the excited loved ones who just genuinely want to hear you talk about something that for you, is now over. It’s not like asking How are you? which is an ever changing thing and also has the acceptable response of I’m fine and you?. The trip happened, and ended, and now you have to figure out how to answer the how which is usually then followed by the what and who. Over, and over again.
In a perfect world, everyone would’ve read my blog, told me they saw it and their opinions of it and that be the end of the conversation about the trip. Maybe ask me a more thought provoking question like: So who are you now? But perfection isn’t real and existing with people is part of what makes life so interesting and so here I am forcing myself to sit with myself and really try to answer the question, in a genuine way, not for anyone else, but for me.
The condition and quality of my trip, my month, was ever changing. It was uncomfortable, inspiring, different, beautiful, challenging, teaching and more. It is difficult to describe an experience you don’t necessarily want to share with anyone beyond the 19 Unsettlers who you had the privilege of experiencing the trip with. It feels like it was ours and what we did, who we were and what we learnt was for us, not anyone else and not open for anyone else’s opinions or judgment or views. And maybe this is why the question annoys me, because it feels intrusive, like asking me what I did in the bathroom this morning. It’s personal time, for me, not for you. And maybe my answer to the question is simply, I have shared everything I wish others to know about my trip, I have nothing left to say.
I take very little…zero pleasure in repeating myself over and over, but yet over the last month that’s exactly what I did. What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? What do you want for breakfast? Where are you staying? I was forced to repeat myself over and over again, answering these questions daily and it exhausted me but I did it. So do I willingly exhausted myself for those I care about? How much should we do for the sake of others versus for the sake of self? Asking questions shows someone you care about them, but how much of the questions we ask are questions we genuinely care to know the answers for? How much of the conversations we have are because it’s what should be done rather than what I am interested in. Societal norms are exhausting. And yes I realise I’m using this adjective a lot and it is because a lot of things exhaust me. Receiving messages exhausts me. Feeding myself exhausts me. But they are necessary parts of everyday life. How do I grow beyond the exhaustion to the fun parts? Maybe that’s the lesson of it all and maybe that’s the lesson I already learnt on the trip.
Be patient with people, they can surprise you.