This summer, I traveled to the UK with my college English class. I had been looking forward to the trip for months, anxiously awaiting my return to my favorite country. We were set to spend two weeks abroad, exploring numerous parts of the UK and having excellent adventures. For the first week and a half, everything was great, but then one day, while driving down a rural road in the north of England, we had an accident.
When we arrived at our destination, we realized that the trunk of the coach we had been traveling in had been open for some time…and most of our luggage was gone. We all immediately panicked and my professor drove around for hours trying to find our things.
Over the next few days, some luggage was returned by kindly strangers who did the right thing; however…not everything came back. My luggage never returned.
Losing most of your valued possessions is the hardest thing in the world. Spontaneously suffering the loss of family jewelry, treasured souvenirs, and cherished clothing creates a sense of panic and anguish which is very challenging to explain. On top of everything, not having a toothbrush or a clean pair of underwear definitely does not help overall morale.
…However, in all of this, I learned a few valuable lessons which I would like to share.
- You can’t control everything. When I lost my things, I felt like I was spiraling. I wanted to do something, anything to get my stuff back. I felt weak because I couldn’t magically make my luggage reappear. Eventually, I realized that sometimes in life, there’s only so much you can do. I can’t bring my luggage back, so why even worry?
- People are nicer than you think. While my luggage never came back, many other pieces were returned simply because of the kindness of strangers. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that people will do the wrong thing (like steal your stuff), but believe it or not, most of the time, people will actually choose to be good.
- Even if you lost one thing, you might gain another. While I did lose my stuff, I not only gained valuable lessons, but also valuable experiences along the way. Even when people couldn’t help me get my things back, most were willing to offer a smile and a hug (when I broke down crying in the middle of H&M, for instance). Strangers giving me kind advice or even just open ears to hear my sob story really provided me with a sense of community that I had never experienced. I learned that most people really will take the time to care about you and love on you when you’re suffering, even if it’s in the smallest way.
- You are capable of more than you think. After all this happened, I figured out how to visit a foreign doctor to get emergency medications, navigated the Tube system by myself to go get new clothing, and even met new friends at Camden Market (shout-out to Jim!). Being forced to deal with a tough situation made me realize that I don’t have to be afraid. I am capable of enduring, overcoming, and solving more issues than I thought I could.
Ultimately, losing personal items sucks. But in the end, I still had a good experience and I learned a lot about myself and the world around me. If life ever presents you with a similar situation, remember these are things and understand that while it hurts now, it will pass and life will still go on – maybe you’ll even learn something new.