The Impact of Traveling on Your Family

March 3, 2017

My Life circa 2008

To understand my story completely, and why the impact of traveling on your family is so important , I need to go back; back to when my life felt like it was unraveling around me. This is a time when absolutely nothing seemed right, and my fondest wish was to simply not exist. But why did I feel like this and how did I get there?

Well, I had just graduated college and had moved back home to New York, after attending school in Maryland for four years. As a result, I had no friends in the area and choose to live at home because of financial uncertainty. Couple this with no boyfriend and no career direction, and you get a lost, scared, and alone little girl, pretending to be a woman.

In this photo, I look so lost. Here, I have no idea what to do with my life and am struggling. I never thought about the impact of traveling on your family.

As a result of my depression, I spiraled deep into my own negative thinking and started to hate myself even more, if that was possible. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer the world. I truly believed that there was something inherently wrong with me because I had no one in my life and basically just hung out with my mom at the grocery store every weekend.

I just struggled through life and hoped that one day, I would just snap out of my depression. But I never did. Instead, I believed the voice in my head that told me I was fat and disgusting and worth absolutely nothing. As a result, I developed a horrific eating disorder that crippled me and isolated me from everyone in my life.

 

Me, wishing I was someone else and wondering what to do with my life. Had no idea about the impact of traveling on your family.

I didn’t want to talk to anyone because I just wanted to focus on limiting my caloric intake and working out at least 2 hours a day. On top of that, I hated eating around people because I felt like they were judging me and might say something about my drastic weight loss.

I no desire to hear such concerns because losing weight was the ONLY thing that made me feel good about myself. I felt like my anorexia was all I had and that if I wasn’t skinny, then I would have nothing to offer myself or the world.

Well, eventually, someone did say something. My mom voiced her concern about my lack of a social life, and I knew I had to change something. I needed to escape from my own negativity and the insanity of the house I was living in. So, I decided to leave it all behind and start over, as an English teacher in South Korea.

The Reaction I Expected

The hardest part of leaving the United States, to teach English in South Korea, was not finding a job, getting a visa, or getting a background check. Those things were all a cake walk compared to the idea of breaking the news to my family.

I wanted to share my happiness with them, I really did. I mean, teaching abroad was something I had always wanted to do because I loved traveling. I was never satisfied with standing still and always wanted to explore the world and see what was beyond my backyard. Travel was one thing that always invigorated me and made me excited about life because you never knew what you were going to see, who you were going to meet, or what new cuisine you were going to eat.

I expected my mom to react like this when I told her I was going to teach English. NOT the reaction I got because the impact of traveling on your family is huge.

So, to indulge my bad case of wanderlust, I decided to teach abroad in Asia. I mean, not only would I get paid to live abroad, but I would also be in close proximity to all the countries in Asia that I had always wanted to visit. Therefore I could save money on airfare and travel even more (No more insanely long and insanely expensive flights to Asia for me!!).

I truly believed that my parents would see all of this and understand where I was coming from. I thought they would know my deep sadness and commend me for making a change and daring to take a different path.

Somehow, I had this idea that it would all unfold like a scene from the Brady Bunch. My parents would hear the news, envelope me in their arms, and tell me how proud they were of me. I fantasized that they would rave about the idea that I was following my heart and experiencing all the things that they never got to see. In my mind, it was like I could almost hear them uttering words like brave, proud, and adventurous (in an admiring tone that commended me for being so unique).

The Impact of Traveling on Your Family

Well, that’s why they call these notions fantasies. Fantasies are not real, and no where in my parent’s reaction were the words adventurous, proud, or brave. Rather, some of the words I heard were disgrace, disappointment, avoidance, and selfish.

A photo of me and a friend while I was living in Korea, forgetting about the impact of traveling on your family.

I think the worst part about their reaction was not what they said,which was hurtful, but how they said it. I mean, they literally spat venom as they roared, “You’ll be sorry when all you have to come home to is a gravestone”, or my personal favorite, “Mark my words, you’ll get sold into the sex slave trade!” And while deep down I knew they might be displeased, I had no idea they would react like this.

As a result, I was totally unprepared for how I would feel after I told them. And the feelings came immediately, raining down on me like an unrelenting thunderstorm.

All I could feel was hurt, sadness, and abandonment. I mean, I wanted to be excited for this amazing new chapter in my life. But instead of celebrating, I felt like I had let down and lost the only people who cared about me. It felt like the rug had finally been pulled out from beneath me, and all that was left was me, feeling empty, lost, and alone.

The Impact of Traveling on Your Family: Final Perspective

Eventually, my parents did apologize and came to accept the fact that I was teaching English in South Korea. They were not happy (that’s putting it mildly) about my decision, but they supported me because they loved me and did not want to alienate me from their lives completely. And while I have since forgiven them for how I was treated, I still remember how they made me feel and how much it hurt to have the only people in your life turn on you, like rabid dogs.

Even after what she said, my mom and I were able to become very close.

But these feelings don’t change the fact that I still love my parents, because I know why they reacted this way. Yes, what they did was not right, but I have since  realized that they reacted so violently because they loved and cared about me. They would really miss me, only they didn’t know how to say this; so, the words came out in an angry diatribe of hate. Had they communicated their fears and love for me in a more positive way, I would have had a better understanding of what they were going through. Instead, I burst into tears and walked around the town for hours because I did not want to face my parents and their nasty demeanor.

Sometimes it’s hard, but I try and remember this.

So, even though I have moved on from this experience (Thank God because it would be really sad if I didn’t), I know that some others out there may encounter such negative reactions to perhaps the most exciting time in they lives. And if you do, you are not alone. It happens. Not everyone may agree with you and think that your decision to live abroad is brave and amazing and awesome. And that’s okay because this decision is for you and not them. You owe it to yourself to take a chance, follow your heart, and see where this crazy journey, called life, takes you.

Just remember that while you’re traveling the world, there are people at home who are waiting for you. They love you and miss you and just want you to be safe. They want to protect you but just can’t because you are so far away, and maybe that lack of control over your life really scares them. Either way, remember that no matter how someone responds to you, it is probably coming from a place of love. And if you have a little patience and a little understanding, they may just come around and learn to see things a little bit differently.

 

 

 

 

 

girlwiththepassport

Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.

https://www.instagram.com/girlwitthepassport/
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41 Comments

  • Karen 9 months ago

    Really moving. My parents were also not very supportive when I decided to move to the Netherlands with my now partner… It was a difficult thing, but they’ve also come around. It’s important to separate out your decision that they struggle with from their love from you, but it’s good to remember there are people at home who care about you. 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Very good point. Nothing can take away their love for you. So glad your parents came around and that you can relate. part of life is dealing with difficult family situations. But glad we made it through and moved forward.

  • maegan white 9 months ago

    *crying* So many mixed emotions as I read this amazing post! “And while deep down I knew they might be displeased, I had no idea they would react like this.” I am dealing with this from my father, whom I am very close to. It hurts to see him displeased but I realize he is scared of me getting hurt or worst. You are right, it does not make you feel too good when hurtful words start spewing hate or envy towards you!

    Thank you for posting this and showing me there is an outside of this manic cycle! Cheers!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      It hurts so much when you are so close with a parent and you know they love you, but they just can’t see your way of thinking and don’t have your back. But I am so glad you are following your own path and inspiring others like me. So glad I am getting to know you and can’t wait to see where your travels take you next. Thanks for the support.

  • Hannah 9 months ago

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. So glad you took the leap to follow your heart abroad! It has to be done!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Absolutely!!! Otherwise I would have regretted it my whole life. And I can’t live a life full of regret.

  • Helen 9 months ago

    Wow I’m so sorry you got this reaction. I hope your family are proud of what you’ve done since then.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      They’ve accepted me and who I am and the fact that if they don;t like what I do, they don’t need to share that. But what matters is that we love each other and work through it.

  • Chiera 9 months ago

    I’mso sorry you went through this. I have no idea how I would react if my parents weren’t so supportive of my travelling. I can only imagine it would make it so difficult! To have this thing you are so passionate about but not be able to talk about it. I guess it may have been a drastic reaction to them being worried about you, but still, very unfortunate.

    I’m glad you have rekindled and grown close now 🙂

    All the best Kelly x

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thanks Chiera!!! Such a lovely comment. It made me stronger to be honest because although it was hard, I realized that I can’t do things because other people approve. I need to do things for me. If I do that, then I am sure to find happiness, and that is all that any of us can hope for.

  • Sarah 9 months ago

    Wow, this is my first time on your blog but this post seriously hit close to home. I also had a similar experience when I moved abroad to England after college. I think this is something that should be spoken about more, because so many people I speak to about this, who aren’t expats or left home to travel, just say “you should ignore them and do what you want,” but it is so much more complicated than that!! I was hoping for some kind of *answer* at the end of your post, but like you, I don’t really have one. Maybe one doesn’t exist. You just have to follow your heart but balance that with being respectful of the people back home who love you. I really loved this post.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thank you!!! so glad you could relate. It is a really difficult situation and we are all different, so there is no one answer. I just know for me that I have made it clear that I love my parents and will do anything for them, but I still need to live a fulfilled life. Therefore, I know they do not like a lot of my decisions but I have made it clear that I don’t need to hear that. I do need their love and support, if they can give it. It has been a struggle and my dad still shakes his head, but at the end of the day I live this life for me and not for him. I don’t worry what he thinks about me anymore. And that makes all the difference. thanks for such a great comment. Really made me think and I appreciate that. Truly.

  • Becky Angell 9 months ago

    Wow Kelly, you are so brave to tell your story. I think you are amazing to have still gone to South Korea despite what you parents said. I use travel to escape my unhappy life and although I don’t think it works 100% I know I am happiest when I am travelling. Keep going 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      I am too Becky. A lot has not gone the way I wanted, but I keep doing the things that bring me joy because I know when I am happy, I can give joy to others and make a difference in this sometimes sad world. So lucky to have such supportive and caring people like you in my life. Shows me that not everyone thinks and acts like my parents. And I appreciate that.

  • Jamie 9 months ago

    So sorry you had to experience this… But I’m so glad it made you who you are today! With experiences like this all we want is complete support and excitement. I wish you had been able to feel that!

    Where in MD did you go to college? I lived there for a few years, too!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thanks for the love and support. I went to school in Frederick Maryland and loved it there. Great place and so close to Baltimore and DC. How about you?

  • Itinera Magica 9 months ago

    I am so sorry you had to experience this, all of this : feeling lost and unimportant, inadequate, and then doing something which could make you move on and being rejected. Ah, this made me sad! I hope you’re in a great place now.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thank you so much!!! I have done a lot of hard work to get better mentally and I am on my way to a much happier life. Some days are hard but it helps that I can share honestly with such supportive and amazing women. Thanks!

  • Lauren 9 months ago

    What a great post although I’m sorry you had such a bad time with telling your family. I actually wrote a similar piece on my blog about how I mishandled the whole moving abroad reveal! But such is life…

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Well, at least we were able to grow from it and show other people that they are not alone. 🙂

  • Laia 9 months ago

    Oh I’m so sorry you had to hear these words. I lived abroad for ten years and I’m doing my second long term trip, I know how hard this can be for family. I’m fortunate because even though they don’t like that I’m far they accept it. But it’s true that whatever they tell us, we have to remember that our family love us and they’re sad when we’re not there.
    I’m glad that they finally apologized and supported you and that you are living your dream of teaching in Asia.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thanks. The support and love really means a lot. I guess part of growing up is listening to your heart and being your own person, even if your family doesn’t like it.

  • Hang Around The World 9 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your personal story. For me it’s important to follow your heart even if this does mean to go abroad! It is a difficult thing but if you are happy it’s great 🙂 – A.

  • Nicole 9 months ago

    Its such a difficult thing to go through and hard when your parents don’t support you. I have been there. I’m sorry you had to experience this.

  • Carmen Baguio 9 months ago

    I’m glad you have come to understand your parents’ reactions. Although I was happy for my daughter when she was awarded a scholarship for a summer in Italy, every day I missed her and worried about her safety. It just what you do as a parent. I don’t think that ever goes away!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Nope. That’s what my mom always said. She said I will always love you, I will never stop worrying about you, and you will always be my baby girl.

  • Bhushavali 9 months ago

    That’s a beautiful and touching writeup! I can’t imagine what you must have gone through when your beloved ones really said something that harsh!!! I’ve gone through my own set of problems and its indeed painful when our parents don’t understand us! But I’m glad things are ok now!!!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Absolutely!!! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That and it allows us to relate to others who are going through the same thing.

  • Getty 9 months ago

    Wow I’m so sorry! I moved from my country to the USA to study in high school so I think my parents are used to me being super independent. My mom preferred that I don’t travel but she was supportive when I did. And now I realize how lucky I was. I’m glad you were brave and courage and just went for it!!! Congrats to you!

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thank you so much Getty. Your support means a lot and I am so glad you are in my blogging community.

  • Danique 9 months ago

    I am sorry you got a reaction like that! Must have been extremely hard for you but I think you can really proud of yourself that you still pursued your dream. I have to say I am really lucky and my parents have always been supportive, so it’s somehow strange for me to see that that is not always the case. Guess, it had something to do with the fact that traveling is a big part of my family anyway, so we are used to it. I wouldn’t know what to do if it would be different honestly!

  • Lena from fouronaworldtrip 9 months ago

    I am really happy for you that you could overcome your eating disorder and that you are back on good terms with your parents. It is really hard what they told you and I am sure most ppl would not be grand enough to forgive – not forget – such a reaction. Also, thank you for sharing such a personal insight.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Of course!!! It is part of life and to show someone who is going through that that you can recover and be happy, that’s what it’s all about.I felt so lonely back then and I want to help makes sure others don;t feel like that.

  • Mike Clegg 9 months ago

    I praise you for still going despite their bad reaction! I guess all parents will react differently! Maybe it’s harder for parents to accept their daughters going away than it is for them to accept a son.

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Yes. I think it is different for women so I think parents worry a lot more about their daughters. But it makes it a little easier when you know its from love.

  • Madhurima Maiti 9 months ago

    Your story really moved me. It’s true that people back home think about us and all the negative thinking comes out of love. I am glad that you’ve tried to understand your parents’ feelings and have summed it up so beautifully. You are brave and a wonderful daughter. I’m sure that some day your parents would support your travel goals as well. Sending my hugs and love for you 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 9 months ago

      Thank you so much. You have no idea how much those kind words mean to me. They make what i do totally worth it and it helps to know that there are so many loving and supportive people out there.

  • Anita 9 months ago

    It sounds very personal and deep.I am sorry about hard times you have been getting through. I like that you had a strength to do something to get out of your situation and I hope it was to a better. Thanks for sharing!

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