Everybody will agree that travelling is a fantastic and eye-opening experience. Nobody who has been on a long-term trip returns the same person. There is a long list of the benefits of travelling, and many of them link to the social experiences that you have. You make lots of like-minded friends, who you have a whirlwind friendmance with, before having to say goodbye. Through these experiences, your perception of ‘friendship’ often changes. You learn to appreciate those close relationships you’ve had in your lifetime, however fleeting they may be, and you also begin to understand that not all friendships need constant upkeep to remain real.
This is something that I strongly believe in, and it has led me to try and reconnect with people from my past after travelling. It might be a simple Facebook message to test the waters (particularly if the friendship was not left in an amicable state) or it might be a bid to meet up for a real catch up. In many cases, this has been really successful and my messages have been met with a warm and eager reception. However, there have been a few that have not.
The problem is, by making these moves I am assuming that the person on the other end of the line feels the same way. I assume that while I have been travelling, they have ‘grown up’ and gotten over the issues of our past in their own, stationary way. I also give them the benefit of the doubt by supposing that they have got over their own teenage issues with themselves. Many of those who live a travelling lifestyle are fuelled by personal issues and self-discovery, so a return to the motherland indicates that we have ‘got over’ these issues, or at least have started to. Am I mad to think that people do grow up? I was under the impression that many of us are in our mid-twenties, so we have changed somewhat from when we were wearing thick black eyeliner and side partings that lay dangerously close to our ears, so concerned about being cool; but it seems that I am wrong. In the worst-case scenario, my reach out was greeted with a ‘what do you want’, I wasn’t even granted a question mark.
The successful scenarios include meeting up with an ex-boyfriend, going on a great night out with a girl who I was friends with for only a very short while, and seeing a childhood friend who now has a baby. These experiences gave me a great perspective of how the paths of life can vary and that travelling might not be necessary to grow up, but all had the common denominators of friendliness, openness, and the desire to compare the present to the past. These were awesome experiences, but it is important to remember that some people may seem as though they have changed, but underneath their disguise, they haven’t – with that in mind, I don’t necessarily recommend meeting up with an ex, it might not end as you planned! On reflection, I realised that a huge proportion of those who were grateful of my reconnection had travelled.
This has led me to wonder why this happens. Why is it that the people who have seen more of the world are more receptive of friendship, wherever it may come from? Are we travellers genuinely friendlier, or is it a deep-set pathological loneliness that drives us from the safety of our homes out into the world? Is the issue with the ghost from our past, has their social development been stunted by staying in the same place, or are they jealous that we left them behind? Why is it that some people are happy to reconnect, but the others aren’t?
Generally speaking I don’t really like people, and I am not always easy to get along with, so I value those who have managed to elicit a friendship from me, whether it was ten years ago or one year ago. Therefore, it makes me quite sad when people don’t react in the way that I hoped – they fade from being an important feature of my past to a part of the old and greying wallpaper of my life.
So tell me, have you have any experience reconnecting with ghosts from your past? How did you find it, were they receptive or not? Do you think that people change, and how does travel affect how we change as people?