A 19 year old, who prefers to remain anonymous, has cut short his gap-year travels out
of fear of discovering any more about himself.
He says he decided to put-off higher education for a year and go travelling after a friend in the year above him returned from his own travels with a goatee. He says he was inspired by the drastic and positive change the expedition had clearly had on his friend, and was enthusiastic to do the same and go discover all sorts of similarly quirky and fascinating things about himself. Off he set, with naught but a backpack and a dream.
‘I had this image of myself wearing a pashmina, playing the sitar in some weird Japanese bar’ he laments, ‘I figured I might experiment with facial hair, meet interesting people who’d, like, climbed mountains, and maybe even have some crazy life-changing LSD-based homosexual experience. Maybe I’d turn out to be a poet deep-down or a dolphin trainer. Who knew?’ In reality, he says he discovered quickly that he is culinary incompetent, sexual depraved, and profoundly dependent on positive reinforcement.
‘I figured I’d go and stare out at the stars in Vienna, maybe have some thoughts about the beauty of the world and how small I am and should accept and embrace that. And I did. For maybe…four minutes? Then I got this urge to texted six different people, and instead had a text conversation with the coolest of the three who replied.’
He says he started worrying when he first tried to buy toothpaste for himself, and instead found he had bought denture cream, only realising when he had already began scrubbing. He says he’d imagined himself making notes in a journal for a novel he’d one day write, but instead spent ‘around 99%’ of his time thinking about sex. Despite anticipating the swaggering new confidence his trip would awaken in him, he says he still finds even now he can’t enter a busy room without forgetting how to walk.
‘I’d imagined discovering charming new foods I liked with impressively obscured names,’ he says, ‘but I ended up sat facing a trough of deep-fried nonsense every morning and realising what I’d always thought was cauliflower was actually celery.’
‘I thought I might develop a sudden interest in Renaissance Italian literature or some quirky political views. All I did was start wearing a ‘legalise pot’ badge under my shirt, and even that was bullshit because I’ve always found pot just makes me feel a bit hazy! I tried to force out an epiphany, but each time just ended up feeling constipated.’
He says within a month, he already felt he’d learned too much about himself, and booked his flight home. He says he feared he might wake up to find he was really racist or catch himself laughing at a bumper sticker. He warns other young people like him to be wary of such similar soul searching:
'You're probably not that great' he warns, 'at best, maybe you have okay taste in music and won't become a sex offender'
His plan now is to find a nice simple job and try to avoid situations which might cause him to discover new aspects of his character.