Remember when you were in primary school and you thought your classroom was the world? The biggest problem you faced was figuring out how to memorise the 7x table….up to 5 it was easy but after 6 things got tricky! (maybe that’s just me). All you wanted was to have the coolest toys, eat your sweets and be allowed to sit next to your friends. Everything seemed big, everyone seemed tall and as you finally started to find your feet and get comfortable….
You grew up and had to leave primary school.
In secondary school you were faced with new challenges and your priorities changed. You realised that the world was a lot bigger than you thought and as you learnt more about yourself and the world, you slowly transformed into a new version of yourself. Whilst trying to figure out who this new you wanted to be (and what kind of eyebrows this new you was going to have..the struggle was real as you can see from the picture) somewhere between the piles of homework, friendship dramas and first relationships, all your problems felt like the end of the world. Not getting the grades you wanted? End of the world. Getting dumped? End of the World. Not being cool enough to hang out with the popular kids? End of the world. Seriously over plucking your eyebrows? End of the World!! Fortunately by the last year, you had figured out how to navigate your way through school and it's challenges, even if once it seemed to be such an impossible and overwhelming task.
Then you grew up and HAD TO LEAVE school...
You probably got a job or went to university and here again, your priorities changed. You realised school had come and gone and the world was a lot bigger than the one you had lived in between the classroom desks. The good friends stuck around and the rest….who knows where they went. With change again came choices, and with choices the opportunity to be, do, go wherever you wanted.
Now the struggle was all about what to do with the 'rest of your life'. After years of HAVING to do this and HAVING to do that, you were finally FREE TO CHOOSE what you wanted to do. But, if you are like the majority of the population…you didn’t know what you wanted to do. Naturally you ended up doing what everyone else around you was doing, whether that was enrolling on a degree course you didn't have a strong interest in or getting a job doing something you were not particularly passionate about.
A few people out there are lucky enough to have been born with a strong passion or aptitude for something, those are the ones who have their whole life planned out by the age of 12. They know they want to be a doctor and save lives so they work towards it relentlessly… but for the rest of us, it all comes down to trial and error because we haven’t got a clue!
If you fall under this category, my category, the category of those who want to see more, do more, be more but are crippled by the lack of answer to the question of WHAT? Then I urge you to give yourself the gift of travel.
Travel gives you the same thing you received every time you faced a big change, the opportunity to make new choices. The chance to grow and re-invent yourself without judgment or prejudice. It opens up the gates to a new playground and reminds you that the world stretches far beyond the borders of the comfort zone you live in.
Whether you travel for years, months, weeks or even days, I urge you to take yourself out of familiar surroundings and observe what life is like somewhere you have not been before. What beliefs, habits and customs exist that differ from your own? how do they challenge you? what does this teach you? and how does it change you?
Last Christmas I was nervously awaiting my imminent departure, wondering and doubting if I was making the right decision by taking myself out of what was familiar, comfortable and safe and trading it for the unknown. I travelled for 11 months after that and it was without a doubt the best decision I have ever made.
Travelling changed me, a cliche line I know…I haven’t returned a vegan hippy who doesn’t believe in deodorant if that is what you are wondering….but i see the world and myself differently. I don't suddenly have my whole life planned out nor do I have all the answers to my questions, but I have been reminded that the world is a much bigger place than the one I physically live in, that the way things are done in one country, culture, family or friendship group is not the only way.
I have learnt that there is more to me than where I was born or went to school, the friendships I keep or possessions I have. I know that those things influence me, but they do not define me. So whatever I choose to do next I will do with confidence, I will not be afraid to fail and if I choose wrong I will choose again and aim to do better. Like a little kid in a big new school - Always learning, always growing, always moving forward.
So my wish for you during this Christmas period and with the new year approaching is to give yourself the Gift of Travel. Start planning your next trip however big or small, luxurious or on a budget, make it happen.
Go and learn something new, challenge yourself again and watch your priorities and yourself grow and evolve, raising up to the challenge like you once did when faced with the unknown.
Stay curious and wild, appreciate what you have, be who you want to be and always work towards what you want.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Travels!