It’s been about three months since I started traveling solo, so I thought I’d pause for second to write a little about how I feel and where I find myself in this journey of self-discovery. Lately all my posts have been focused on all the destinations I’ve been in…there has been so much to see and I’ve been so desperate to experience it all, that I’ve constantly been out-and-about, concentrating more on the doing than the reflecting. But this is not supposed to be a year of travel just for the sake of traveling. This is supposed to help me understand myself better. So three months in…do I have any answers? Has travel changed me as a person? Am I any closer to figuring myself out?
Well, what I can say, is that traveling is helping me move in the right direction. People underestimate the value of long-term travel. And starting out, even I wasn’t sure what I could possibly learn from just traipsing around the world, seeing sights and hanging out with strangers. But these last three months have been so much more than that…and I can’t even begin to explain just how much I’m going to value this time off for years to come.
I think the most important thing I’ve noticed is that travel has made me more comfortable. Comfortable with who I am, comfortable with being in an unfamiliar place, comfortable approaching people…comfortable not having a set plan, whether it’s for the next day, the next destination or the next five years of my life.
Traveling has also made me more appreciative of the world we live in. It’s made me slow down and stop to take it all in. Value the little things…like a beautiful sunset or a city skyline…things I never had time for in my prior life. And also the bigger things. It’s hard to explain how places like the Iguazu Falls and the Haleakala Volcano affected me, but they really did. Yes, their beauty took my breath away…yes I was awestruck by their natural formations…but it was more than that. Standing at the peak of a mountain or at the base of a powerful waterfall, I realized how small I was…I realized how petty my problems were. It put things into perspective and helped me understand how unnecessary it was to stress about the things I used to stress about.
And how is travel helping me understand myself better? Traveling alone means I have no obligations to anyone but myself. I can dress however I want, I can socialize with whomever I want, I can choose to be with people or be alone, choose to wear makeup or not…I get to be exactly who I want to be with no fear of being judged. It’s hard to come by this kind of freedom. And by allowing myself to just be me, I’m starting to learn more about my true likes and dislikes. I’m starting to realize what activities and what kind of people I’m naturally drawn to and vice versa. It’s helping me see what brings me happiness and what pushes me away. And these are all small but valuable things I can use to eventually find the right career for me. They are baby steps, yes…but in the right direction.
The exposure I’ve gained from the last three months has been priceless. Three continents, five countries, innumerable new friends from all over the globe. It has been a constant lesson, immersing myself in new cultures and learning about the rest of the world from other backpackers. I had so many doubts about quitting…about a year off. But three months in, I have no regrets. I’m free, I’m growing, I’m doing exactly what I wanted to be doing in my 20s. There are still so many unknowns about the future. And I still don’t have all the answers. But I’m making progress every day and I’m having the time of my life. And I’d like to think I’ll be okay.