Joanna is an incredibly gifted Nottingham born freelance writer and a part-time English Literature student at the Open University. When not at the office, Joanna is either crafting beautifully written pieces or taking to the nearest dancefloor with a cocktail in hand.

This month, Joanna is back with her refreshing and comical take on our 'Journey' theme. Joanna takes a look at the different ways that journeying can be interpreted, and the way that the pandemic has placed a new yearning for travel and movement. Can we progress without a destination? Or is the journey the most important?

Read all about it below


Over the last few years, the word ‘journey’ has gone from being a perfectly acceptable term to describe travelling from one place to another to a word that makes you want to vomit a little bit.

I blame The X Factor.

I think it’s safe to assume this is where it all started. ‘Journey’ became the buzzword; the seemingly genuine expression of one’s experience thus far. When asked, ‘What has this competition meant to you?’ a heavily made-up wannabe pop star would look past the camera with a glassy-eyed expression and say in a choked voice, ‘I feel like I’ve been on such a journey.’ Someone fetch a bucket! They’ve only gone and said it. If you’re lucky, Don’t Stop Believin’ will be playing in the background.

It’s such a shame the word is so overused these days because it’s an amazing word. It conjures up thoughts of travel, adventure, story-telling and soft rock anthems from the early eighties. No matter who we are or what socioeconomic background we come from, we have all taken a physical journey at some point or another. It is a word that unites us totally; it doesn’t matter whether you’ve gone on a journey to Dubai or down the road to the corner shop. Journeying comes in all shapes and sizes; it can be taken on foot, on wheels, through the air. It can involve turning left as you get onboard and it can involve standing under someone’s armpit during rush hour. It can be done solo or with loved ones, it can be done for the first time, the last time and everything in-between. We might remember a journey vividly or it might become so routine that it passes by in a blur of familiarity. Simply a way of getting from A to B.

During this pandemic, we find that we can barely journey anywhere. Borders are closed, planes are grounded and that walk to the corner shop is your one government allocated trip for the day and that’s only if the shop sells essential items. The journeys we take now are out of necessity rather than something to be relished. This will, of course, all go back to normal eventually and we’ll go on planning interrailing routes through Europe or simply heading up the M42 to see a friend in Birmingham whose face we miss sorely.

Whilst we may be adept at planning physical journeys, we’re not always so good at paying attention to the journeys you can’t see on a map. NB You need an acceptance letter to Mensa before you can fully comprehend an A-Z.

We are a society which likes to set itself goals. We can’t help it; it’s ingrained in us. We like to know what’s going to happen next, we like an endgame of sorts. I’d wager there are very few people in life who actively enjoy just floating along with no destination in mind… and that’s the trouble. It’s healthy to have targets to reach but it’s so easy to become wrapped up in these carefully plotted destinations and forget to enjoy how we got there.

We’ve all heard the term ‘living in the moment’; another potentially spew-inducing example of 21st century jargon. The more I think about it, though, the more there’s something to it. By living more presently, we are acknowledging that sweet space in time between the past and the future and that is the bit we so often want to hurry. We’ve got to get that promotion by the end of the year, we’ve got to reach the top of the mountain. We’ve got to get there and get there fast. Why don’t we just enjoy that year at work - it may have been tough at times but on the whole we’ve learnt new skills, messed up a few times and made new friends along the way. It’s a great feeling reaching the peak but how great was the climb? We only seem to appreciate the journey in hindsight when, if we choose to, we could so easily enjoy it at the time.

I’m a big fan of looking to song lyrics as a sort of vague set of guidelines for life – there’s no point looking to the government or to God; they never get back to you. I think Jem got it right circa 2004 with It’s Just A Ride. I won’t repeat the lyrics in full here but she does sing about making plans ten times a day and we’re all so guilty of this. We become so fixated on ‘getting there’ that we more often than not completely forget to enjoy how we get there.

We also tend to struggle when our journeys go off at a tangent because it means we’re out of control for once. Just when we’re not looking, we go and find our first home when we weren’t even looking to buy and we meet the guy when we thought we weren’t ready for him yet. It’s extraordinarily refreshing to have the plan thrown up in the air, perhaps for something better. Who knows, we might have got to this place one way or another but it’s manifested via a completely different route to the one we put in our sat nav. Maybe we should enjoy the departure from the original plan and learn to go with whatever our personal journey has in store for us. We don’t have to constantly bend the path of our existence towards what we think we want; we should just let the world guide us a bit.

As much as any self-respecting person wouldn’t attempt the phrase ‘I’m on a journey’ in polite conversation these days for fear of abject ridicule, the truth is, we’re all on some sort of journey. It should actually be something we acknowledge more and take care of rather than running after the future, or worse, getting stuck in the past. Chase your dreams, by all means but try to enjoy the process and don’t worry so much if the dream, or the path towards it, alters slightly.

A few tips for enjoying your journey from a twenty-something who hasn’t a clue what she’s talking about:

Don’t be afraid to change your mind – you’ve planned and planned for something you really thought you wanted and then something inexplicably alters and you no longer feel the same about that goal. So, allow it to dissipate and remember your endeavours fondly.

If something isn’t working out like you planned, only stick at it for so long – obviously work hard and don’t give up on something as soon as it gets tough but sometimes life has a way of telling you when something just isn’t meant to be.

Get off your phone – stop signposting your life on social media and live it for real. Anything worth remembering will stay with you in your mind’s eye; you don’t have to physically document everything for the whole world to see.

Take in the small things – we rush around so much that we very rarely remember to look around us and notice seemingly insignificant things that might actually make our day more enjoyable.

And, finally, don’t forget; enjoy the ride.