Lately I’ve seen an influx of articles, social media posts and memes encouraging us all to ‘catch flights, not feelings’.
The motto seems pretty inspiring, especially for female world travellers. Even though the world has come on quite a bit, we’re still getting over the hangover of the idea that a woman’s place is only worthy if she’s got a good man to love. Or any man to love, really. In some parts of the world, this is still the social norm and can even be illegal for a woman to undertake basic tasks in life without the presence of a male family member. The fact that many of us can now not only vote, have a meaningful career, and have ownerships of our bodies, let alone travel the world and live our best lives without a man is pretty incredible and would have been unthinkable for many 6 or 7 decades ago.
Of course, even though we CAN do these things, many don’t and won’t. Because we’re still taught over and over from a very young age that the most important thing in life is finding true love, and getting married. So this affirmation to catch flights and not feelings can seem pretty uplifting and encouraging. Forget about that stupid guy that broke your heart, get on a plane, and forget all about it right??
Well, I don’t believe so. There is something with this motto that keeps circling social media that doesn’t sit right with me.
First of all, it encourages this belief that our feelings are wrong and should be shut down. I’ve met so many men who struggle to open up because they’ve been encouraged by masculine social narratives to not open up about their feelings at all. Lad culture has encouraged many to have meaningless one night stands and of course be careful not to catch those pesky ‘feelings’.
Which brings me to my next point – it seems like a fairly recent phenomenon that we’ve referred to feelings as something we ‘catch’. Like a nasty disease. God forbid you ever like someone or have a meaningful connection with a person. God forbid you ever see someone beyond being a vessel for which to fuck. And don’t even think about falling in love. How awful.
This kind of narrative is so damaging. Of course, sometimes people who have been hurt many times before put up these barriers even on a subconscious level, to avoid being hurt again. And this is sad. So to encourage it amongst ALL OF US is even more damaging. Part of what makes us human is our ability to forge incredible, beautiful relationships. Love is such a powerful emotion that we should all be allowed to feel, especially by ourselves. Yes, sometimes shit happens. People can be cruel and we can get hurt. But to shut ourselves off to the amazing possibility of love because of this risk is to shut ourselves out from one of life’s many gifts. Nothing worth having in life can happen or be attained if we don’t take risks. And love is included in that.
Do I believe you should put your life on hold for some guy or girl? No I don’t. I think it’s tragic when people don’t follow their dreams because of another person. Things might not work out, and you’ll always wonder ‘what if’. But this doesn’t mean you should shut yourself off to love. Travel is another one of life’s gifts. I loved travelling solo. You learn so much about yourself and grow. But to have someone else by your side whilst you do those things and to share those experiences with another is also magical. Not only that, but it is possible to travel alone, and be in a relationship. I’m in a relationship and go away with my boyfriend, but also go on trips with friends and would never rule out solo trips. My life is not limited because of my boyfriend, but simply even more enriched. If you meet someone you like, but you also want to explore the world, why can’t you do both?
I know this is a bit of a long and meaty post about what is essentially a phrase, but the words we use and reinforce matter! I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!