You don’t pack up and leave your home and everything you’ve ever known behind you without learning a few things along the way. The ever-challenging and eye opening daily adventure that is “the road” is constantly equipping me with further life skills and shaping the person I am. I am a more confident and less panic driven (at times anyway!) individual than I was when I walked into Heathrow airport on 5 November 2015, but, it’s not just taught me about myself.
Things travel has taught me:
1. People on the whole are good and the world is not as scary a place as the media would have you believe.
2. Age doesn’t mean a thing. Whether you are eating dinner with a 52 year old woman or travelling the length and breadth of a country with an 18 year old boy. You either will or won’t get on with a person and generally, age is not a factor that dictates that.
3. I am brave. Sometimes, I am a giant, quivering mess at the very thought of conversation but other times, I am bold.
4. I love fiercely. Whether it’s a friend, a place or a partner, YOU are at the top of my list buddy. I fall in love too easily and it is both a blessing and a curse.
5. You don’t need things to make you happy. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met are those with next to nothing. People the western world would deem as poor, “third world” or even unfortunate.
6. Nightmare events only make for an interesting story. This one I have touched on before. It’s my mantra when things are going wrong and falling down around me. Travel has taught me that when things go wrong – and they will – try not to panic, just remember the details. The worse things become, the better the story. Often, an event seems more traumatic when it’s happening, but as time elapses you realise that things were possibly not as bad as they seemed. Normally, I can eventually laugh about an incident too. The same holds true for life: time always passes and changes perspective.
7. Some people are not meant to stay in our lives forever, instead, only passing through to remind you that there are awesome people everywhere out there whilst at the same time serving to remind you that you deserve to be appreciated. You are awesome!
8. You can make a life for yourself anywhere, as with all things, what’s needed is simply time. Time, patience and the bravery to make that leap. When I first landed in Australia I felt lost, scared and alone. But now I have a job I really enjoy and a team of amazing friends that I am thankful for every day. It’s going to be very hard to leave.
9. My choice to be a vegetarian – something I still wholeheartedly believe is right for me from an ethical point of view – is a very privileged, Western decision. This one I already knew, but it wasn’t something I thought about until faced with the idea of going to a home stay in Vietnam and making the decision not to go because I didn’t want to be the one asking these people to provide an alternative meal – no-one wants to be that guy.
10. How to live in the moment. This one I still struggle with as, by its definition, anxiety cannot exist in the present. It is made up of ruminating over the past and worrying about the future. However, travel does make it easier. Waking up with an exciting new city to explore or living on a beach for a month leaves little room for sweating the small stuff. It grounds you and forces you to appreciate the here and now and the beauty that is all around.
Travel has shaken up my belief system, reaffirmed my humanitarian viewpoints, challenged my moral standing, solidified my political beliefs and spat me back out a different, and yet not so different, girl from who I was before.
They say you don’t realise how much you’ve changed until you go back home to where nothing else has… I’ll get back to you.