Coddiwomple: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

I have always had an urge to leave and go somewhere far away. Sometimes, I would even vow that I wouldn’t tell anyone where I was going.  It’s not exactly that I hate where I  am now—it’s just that everything seems too familiar. It’s much more than just the feeling of being trapped and needing an escape from the repetition of everyday life. Rather, I feel like if I stay where I’ve been for almost all of my life, then I have to stay the same as a person. Staying around people who have known me since I was little and walking streets that I can navigate with my eyes closed makes me feel as if everything that I’ve experienced and overcome is irrelevant, because in the end, the people who surround me will only see me as “that girl.” I’m just the girl who lives in the first house around the corner, the girl who gets good grades and looks down whenever someone attempts to meet her eyes.

Yes, I admit that I’m all of those things. But there is much more about me that others aren’t aware of because they’re blinded by the facade that I’ve maintained for as long as I can remember. I’ve developed as a person, and I have thoughts and ideas that are so different from what I’ve allowed people to believe simply because of the fact that they already “know” what kind of person I am.

To quote Alice in Wonderland,  “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person back then.” I need to be somewhere different because I feel different. It’s as if I’m playing a video game called ‘Lana’s Life, and though I keep upgrading and become more skillful over time, the game is just on a loop—it’s the same boss battles, scenery, and side characters helping me reach the next destination. Sure, the consistency helps me beat the game, but by not undergoing new challenges—or playing new levels—I’m not truly winning the game.

The best example of my struggle is my life at school. I am currently in my senior year and, just like everyone else, I seem to have created a reputation for myself. At my school, I’m known as the nice girl. I always smile, help others, say “sorry” and “thank you”, and I never get in trouble. What most don’t know is that bullying from schoolmates caused me to be this way. There’s nothing wrong with being nice, but it has gotten to the point where I am basically submissive, eager to provide people with whatever they want from me. Internally, I have changed and grown over the past few years. Externally, however, I find it difficult to express my change in character because when I act even the slightest bit different from how people expect me to be, I’m thought of as being in a “bad mood” or “rude.” I’ve withheld parts of myself so that others can feel comfortable around me. The unexpected can be scary; though it’s destroying me, this sense of familiarity makes others feel safe.

My wanderlust goes much further than me simply wanting to travel. It’s about me needing to explore not only the world but the different sides of myself that have remained hidden. I need to show the world who I am so that I can move on and develop even more. In video games, your character can only upgrade one level at a time. If I stay in the same state, I’m not just limiting myself from being able to progress to the next level—I’m also holding myself back from knowing what lies beyond that.

I’m done with this level of my life. I have my mission, and I‘m ready to move on to the next round of obstacles—wherever they may be.

By Alana James

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