You’re probably part of the problem. Here’s how to change

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

Quick question for you: why do you like to travel? Stop reading and think about it for a minute. I’ll wait.

Great, now come back. What were some of the reasons you thought of? Do you travel to see beautiful, iconic places? To learn? To experience a new way of life?

Those are the answers most of us would give. But let me ask you a few more questions — and answer them honestly.

Do you travel because you want to seem cool and worldly?

Do you travel to collect stories to tell to your friends?

Do you travel…

Here’s why change is a long time coming.

Photo by author

An ocean breeze in Bali. The monstrous cliffs on Ireland’s west coast. The sparkling lights of Paris. The mystical, endless stretch of the Atacama desert.

These days, the idea of hopping on a flight to a far-off destination brings up a blend of feelings, the most potent of which is probably nostalgia. Our longing to travel is almost as strong as our apprehension to start traveling again. But with COVID cases back on the rise in many parts of the world, we will have to wait a little longer.

Many of us have been living in the past, reminiscing about…

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It’s a common cliche in teen romcoms: a girl walks into the lunchroom alone, looking around for a place to sit. Nobody welcomes her. Some even sneer, laugh, or give her the side-eye. The cool kids spread out their backpacks, taking up all the free space. Eventually, the girl sits down at a table by herself.

Cliche, but true: I was that girl.

I was ostracized twice throughout my childhood — once in a Catholic elementary school (naturally, a hotspot for mindless judgment) and again in a public middle school. Both were torturous. Suddenly the friends I adored so much…

Photo by Juan Carlos Trujillo on Unsplash

I was staring at a basket of bread.

It was perfect. Technical and visual perfection. All the cracks and crumbs and crevices. Toasted but soft. The bread came out of the page, the shadows and painted shading daring everyone who saw to touch it. To try to take a bite.

Salvador Dali’s painting Basket of Bread is not one of his most fantastic works. Not by a long shot. But as I faced the painting at the Dalí museum in Figueres, Spain, I couldn’t look away. A simple heel of bread on a table had captured my attention.

This was…

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It’s time for me to be honest with you all.

For about two months now, I’ve been suffering from a serious affliction. It’s a controversial one, as many creative individuals suffer from it quite seriously, while others deny it’s existence outright.

Writer’s block.

At first, I wasn’t sure what it was that had me gripped. I’d been on a great streak for almost 6 months, writing daily, publishing several times a week. I had a list of ideas. Though I still procrastinated at times, when I got down to work, I truly enjoyed the writing I was doing.

Then, everything…

Here’s how you might be able to travel, too

Cadaqués, one of the stops on our road trip (photo by author)

Two years ago, I left behind my friends, family, and home country (the U.S.) and moved across the sea to Spain. The move was spurred by many reasons. The main reason was to travel.

Europe is a condensed area packed with countries and cultures, making travel easy, fast, and cheap. You can wake up in Spain, be in France by the afternoon, and end the day in Germany — and that’s just by car. As a travel writer and photographer, my possibilities seemed endless.

Cue my dismay when, a year into this adventurous new life, COVID hits. …

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It was raining again.

Before, it had just been sporadic drizzles, but now it was pouring. We watched from our table at the restaurant, not minding the rain one bit. It turned each cobblestone into a reflective surface on which the colors of lit windows and motorbikes danced.

It was my first time in Lisbon, and already I felt I’d be happy living there. I said as much to our waiter.

“It feels so comfortable, like I’ve been here before.” I looked at my partner with a pout. “I don’t want to leave.”

“There’s a word for that, you know,”…

And how not to lose your mind in the process

Photo taken by the author: Pandora Domeyko.

These days, everyone has an opinion about what it takes to succeed.

You must be enjoying the journey but see ten steps ahead. Tell everyone or tell no one. Be happy where you are but aim for the sky.

It is as though the world is telling us: You must do what you are doing well, and also start doing what you haven’t yet. At the same time.

All the conflicting information is confusing, overwhelming, and exhausting.

For a while, I allowed myself to be sucked into the spin-cycle of productivity advice. I worked my butt off for days, stressing…

Photo by Eugenia Maximova on Unsplash

Any people-pleasers in the crowd? Get those hands up. Don’t be ashamed.

There are more of us than we know. Some of us may not even realize how much we care about what others think, or that we do at all. Some of us might think back to when we were younger and constantly fretting over the opinions of our peers. We think, ‘Oh, no. I have much bigger fish to fry now. I can’t be bothered with such nonsense anymore.’

But are you sure about that?

I thought I’d make huge strides from the nervous, anxious teenager I was…

You can’t run from where you come from

Mountain Mama. Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

I’d heard the song a thousand times. Those optimistic first notes, the nostalgic harmonies, the bright acoustic twang. It was a classic — at least, it was a classic where I’m from.

I figured people only really knew John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” if they were from the same state as me. I figured Morgantown dorm rooms and grimy backroads bars were the only places people threw their beers in the air, spilling a considerable amount, and screamed: “COUNTRY ROOOADS, TAKE ME HOOOME.”

That’s why my ears perked up when I heard those twangs half a world away…

Pandora Domeyko

Writer and photographer based in Barcelona, writing about travel, creativity and all of life’s chaotic bits.

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