Here's The Story Of My Lost Love Adventure

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

I'm known on social media as 'Lost Love Adventure'. But my name is Shalini, and I began my trip when I was sixteen years old.
I recall telling my father that I wanted to go on solo travel, and he just said no. I was unhappy, but I said nothing because it was the first time I had asked him for something, and he had said no. I had made up my mind that I would never ask him again. But, later that evening, he approached me and asked if I didn't want to go. I expressed my desire to do so, but you declined. He said he had said no because he didn't think I was ready. I asked him how I should prepare, and he began by explaining that I was just 16 years old. In the middle of his sentence, I interrupted him and said, "Oh sure, now you will say go after you get married to your husband and everything." Why don't we just let it go?

So I guess we've all misjudged our parents without first listening to them as teenagers. Anyway, he replies, "No, that's not why I said no." After all, you aren't self-sufficient enough to go on the journey since you do not know the world, do not know self-defence, no knowledge of survival skills; you are unprepared. As a result, I stated that I wanted to be prepared. He then instructed me to go on the internet to discover where I was going and why I wanted to go there, and that's how the research began; after that, I prepared emotionally, practically, and physically for more than two months.

I subsequently travelled to Coimbatore and then to the Nilgiris; this was my first solo trip, and I had saved money by working at various NGOs.
Because I didn't have a flying ticket, I purchased a sleeper class train ticket and travelled to the Nilgiris for over two and a half days. And this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I had remarkably few resources and only a hazy understanding of everything. But I did learn, and it felt amazing.

In 1994, when my parents married, inter-caste marriages were not very common at the time, and even if they were, it was not accepted. As a result, it was challenging for them to raise me because of their work schedules. Therefore, they always encouraged me to stay or be a part of social activities because

My mother is a social activist who campaigns against human trafficking, and despite my father's corporate position, he has always been a very communal person.
That makes me believe in social activism, or social awareness and the social causes our society overlooks from time to time. When I was in school, I got involved in various social activities, including the leprosy mission, Save the Children, and many other NGOs. Whenever I had an opportunity, I would volunteer -- not just at orphanages, but at nursing homes, AIDS orphanages, or any other social cause. Through all of this, I started earning a limited amount of money over time. All that money I saved led to my first trip.

Since that first trip, I have never looked back. I managed education, travelling, and even volunteering for social concerns since I believed that was where my heart belonged. People think you must devote your entire life to a social cause, but this is not the case; it is simply how you want it. Yes, time management is a challenge, but if you decide what you want to do and what your perks and learning opportunities are, you'll figure out how to achieve it.

My parents have been my biggest supporters, especially my father, whom I lost on June 4th, 2021.
Regarding my travels, they had agreed to disagree on most things. My parents never imagined that I'd make a career out of it. They never imagined I'd follow it so religiously. They didn't realise that it could transform into a career as well since it grew naturally with time as I had hoped. Even though I never wanted to go abroad, I wanted to explore every corner and nook of India, so they were very supportive of that as well. My dad was overjoyed when I told him this, both of them were travellers at heart; whenever they got a chance, they just went out.

I remember my dad would come home from work on Friday evening and tell us to pack up and go somewhere. And the best part was we didn't even know where we were going. We just went anywhere around West Bengal and then came back Sunday night so he could go to work on Monday morning. For him, life has always been an impromptu journey. Of course, they assumed it was just a pastime because none of us realised it could lead to a career. I didn't think I'd be able to pull it off, so they assumed I'd be able to do what they did: work and work and then travel.

I agreed to it in my way, so I started looking for jobs in different cities to travel across that state, which worked out since it provided me with an idea of the country's destinations.

My life appears to be quite ideal, such I have great work, a group of good people, and I am happy to go lucky person, but depression is not only because you've had an outbreak or gone through something.
It could come from anyone and everywhere. So, when I was diagnosed with this disease in 2016, I believed my life was going to an end and that there was no way out, and I kept judging myself over what people would think or say about me.

I refused to leave my house and found it tough to motivate myself. I believed I couldn't live with depression because it's such a taboo subject. When people learn about me, they will not want to be my friend, and they will not encourage me to be who I am.

I recall going up to my doctor and saying, "This is not the life I deserve; this is the life I received," as if it were such a big issue, which it was.
And my doctor answered, "Why can't I treat it like flu?" I asked, "How do you expect me to treat a mental condition as simple flu?" He said, "Accept it." It was extremely difficult for me to accept that I was suffering from Recurrent Depressive Disorder, and the more I thought about it, the more anxious and demotivated I became about life.

I just assumed I'd be hiding behind files doing my work and returning home, but little did I know that life had other plans for me. I met a lot of people who were depressed yet nonetheless managed to live a happy life.

We believe that depression will take everything away from us, but we don't realise that it might merely provide us with a new way of living.
So, with depression, I began to look at my life in a different light, and it was the most powerful incentive I could muster every day to accept that I have a mental disorder and that I must continue to live my life with a smile on my face and my head held high.

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