12 Things I Learned On My Month-Long Break From Reality

If there's one thing we collectively don't know how to do as millennial women, it's take a break. Sure, I try my best to take advantage of our paid time off, but I often feel programmed to Instagram my time on the beach (otherwise, did it really happen?) and scan through my inboxes with feet in the sand "just in case." So, leading up to my one-month sabbatical — a benefit after four years of employment at Refinery29 — I was determined to give myself a true step back from the daily grind (read: no Slack, no Google Hangouts, no writing stories on airplanes, etc.).
I planned to use the time off to travel to places I'd always dreamed of going — namely Arizona, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Italy — and spent weeks figuring out logistics, booking flights and stays, and daydreaming up the perfect outfits for each scene I'd encounter. I even hoped to take care of a few of those life-tasks on my to-do list that never seem to get done (DMV, anyone?). For someone who didn't get the chance to have a study abroad experience or post-college globe-trot, this 13-cities-in-30-days trip had a lot in store for me — but not only in the ways I anticipated. I was in for a real awakening.
I didn't delete my Instagram account or leave my phone at home. I enjoy capturing my travels and sharing them with my followers and friends, but the rare opportunity to be thousands of miles away for an extended period of time doesn't come without both good and bad realizations. A lot can happen in four weeks — coworkers moving on to new opportunities, friends breaking up and making up, seasons changing. No complaints here — a month with no deadlines or technical responsibilities is quite literally a dream come true, in a lot of ways, but during the final leg of my sabbatical, I knew I had to take a moment to contemplate the good, the bad, and the ugly that we all know travel can bring.
Click ahead for some of the thoughts and reflections I brought back with me. I hope that if and when you get to embark on your own version of a sabbatical, whether it be a break between jobs or a mental-health retreat, that you, too take a moment to reflect. Like me, you might be surprised what bubbles up when you leave your bubble.

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