My name is Sophie and I am a 22 year-old girl, a solo-traveller and a distance student. As I am writing this, I am in South Korea, but by the time you read it, I might as well be in China, Turkey or any other exotic destination.
I grew up in Switzerland in a loving family. In theory, I always had a beautiful life; in practice, things have not really been so easy for me. I always struggled to fit in and it took me years to be able to build up my self-confidence, which is still quite fragile at times. At 16 years old, I lived 9 months in Spain, to learn the language and extend my horizons. When I came back, I had changed quite a lot.
Once I got my high school qualifications, I decided to make one of my dreams come true and to travel the world. I threw myself into entirely unknown worlds; I volunteered for children in West Africa, I found myself lost and alone in the middle of Myanmar and slept in strangers’ houses in Australia, to cite only a few examples. I lived a completely different life for several months and for the first time, I felt entirely happy, like I was where I was supposed to be.
And then I came back. I saw my friends and family again. Everybody was very excited to see me and hear my stories, everybody told me how brave I was. The first few weeks were very intense. But then it went down. People got bored of my stories, even I got bored of telling them. And I felt that distance between me and them. At first, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t there, but it was only lying to myself: they hadn’t seen and done what I had. It was not my fault, or theirs, but it was there, right in front of me: I was not the same person anymore.
But life goes on, so I prepared myself for university. Last year, I became a student in the University of Fribourg. I was surrounded by many friends, I had good grades, a comfortable apartment. I was on the path all prepared for me for years, I had a nice little routine going on for myself. I had everything to be happy.
Yet, I wasn’t. The thing is, I had left that path for a while. I had seen that there was something else, that somewhere out there, people were living very different lives. And as much as I tried to convince myself that I had to put those memories in a corner of my head for a while until I finished my studies, I couldn’t turn down that little voice inside of me who didn’t want to forget. So the process began… and it was unstoppable.
I started realizing how many human values we have lost, how disconnected we are all to each other. I became conscious of how manipulated we are to think a certain way, that we are only pawns in this system, and that I didn’t want to be one. I noticed that I was there because that’s what had always been expected from me, and that I had never been encouraged to imagine a different life for myself than the typical study-career-marriage-family path. I didn’t want it. I realized that the system is not there to help us, it is there to exploit us. That what allows us to have these fancy lifestyles is that other people somewhere else on the planet are being robbed from their basic rights, but that no one wants to see that. That no one has any idea what is on their plates, but somehow that’s normal. I understood that we are encouraged to discuss movie stars, fashion or sports to keep us away from the real problems. Mostly, I realized how unhappy everybody was around me, or should I say, how happy everybody pretended to be. I then remembered the smiles of the people living so simply, in that other universe I had once been in…
… I was waking up.
That’s how I spend my first semester at university, feeling like I didn’t belong. One day, I went online and saw very cheap flights to Morocco. My heart started racing in my chest, remembering how happy travelling made me feel. I didn’t think much before I bought it. So there I was, with tickets for 3 weeks alone in Morocco, wondering how I was going to justify that to the people around me, with all the muslim-fear going around at that time. Of course, people told me I was crazy.
I left anyway. And what happened there is another story, which I may or may not tell you about one day. But when I came back, I wasn’t the same anymore. When I came back, the idea was implanted in my head… “Why not?”
The next few months were an internal fight between my reason and my heart. The reasonable, logical choice would have been to finish my studies, to get a good diploma, and then do whatever I wanted. At least that’s what most of the people around me tried to encourage me to do. However, I stopped going to class. As passionate as I was about my field (social sciences), something didn’t feel right. It was all too theoretical, it wasn’t connected to the real world. I had very, very dark moments; somedays, I didn’t set foot outside of my apartment and just sat there, in the dark. I was afraid, I was scared of admitting the truth: the life I had built for myself was falling apart. I lost others and I lost myself in the process. I touched the bottom. I contemplated it for a while, I contemplated the words “BE REASONABLE” written there. But all that time, the light was there, on the other side. My heart had seen long before, but I wasn’t quite prepared to let my mind see it, because it was scary. See, the light came from a place where nobody around me was going; no certainty was waiting for me there, unlike the dead end I was in, surrounded by all of these people but yet so desperately lonely.
I finally got there. I stopped letting my fear decide my fate and decided to follow my heart. After all, he knew the way all along… So I etched the words “Why not” in my head and on my skin, I packed a few clothes, my camera, my flute and my notebooks, and left. That was the 11th of June 2015.
I’ve seen and experienced many new things since then. I try to keep track of my personal evolution with my writings, and I write about the good and the bad. In life, nothing’s ever perfect, nothing’s ever black or white, even in travelling, despite what social media tends to show.
The idea of creating BetterTogether formed itself little by little in my mind during all these life-changing experiences. I hesitated a long time before including this section about myself to this site; I came to the conclusion that both are so closely linked for me, that it would make sense to explain where my inspiration comes from: my everyday life. This part is also here if you’re ever in need of escaping, for some inspiration to travel or for any reason you want, actually!
Welcome to my world! Enjoy.