Since I was a small girl, airplanes and new countries have become second nature. I was fortunate to be raised by a family who shared my wanderlust and I was given the ability to make my own observations throughout my various journeys. This is a list of the 20 main lessons I’ve learned by the age of 20 years old.
1. “Wherever You Go, There You Are”- Finding your divine purpose doesn’t require traveling to the other end of the Earth. I was hoping that by age 20 I would have more direction and purpose to my life if I followed my passion of traveling right after graduation. I have no idea where I’ll be in 6 months or 6 years but I do know that it is this journey of following my heart’s desire that matters as much as the destintaion.
“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.” Paulo Coelho
2. There is an Unchanging Nature of Humanity- You’ll find the same types of people everywhere you travel. The dispersion of every type of person differs on location but humans share the same fundamental emotions. For example, in every new place visited you will find the lover, the happy family, the broken family, the easily irritable old man, the mindless wanderers with no home, the friendly, the isolated, etc. It is still a humbling experience to go to less fortunate countries and admire the appreciation a civilization has on the basic necessities in life, especially when compared to the more individualistic mindset of the working class in big cities. A bit of every type of person will be present in each region. We are all human after all.
3. Face Your Fears- You’ll take risks and leaps of faith you never knew you’d take had you not chosen to leave your comfort zone.
4. You’ll be changed- This becomes most apparent once you return home from a long journey and trying to be relatable and discuss new ideas with friends and family is slightly more difficult as they may seem to remain unchanged. As you discover more about yourself, morals and perspectives broaden.
5. Don’t Lose Focus on What Matters Most- You will reflect on what truly matters most again and again. You’ll ponder on the faces of those you love and achieve a greater appreciation to those who support you. Don’t lose sight on your goal of this journey and reach out to your supporters through the good times and bad times.
6. Your Faith in Humanity Will Be Restored and Lost in an Endless Cycle- Referring to lesson #2, there are people in this world willing to help others and there are those willing to take. Admire the good natured and never mimic the malicious.
7. Get Used to being Uncomfortable- From jet lag, overnight bus rides, hard beds in strange places and walking for miles and miles…. Anticipating a 6+ hour long bus ride every other night soon became an overcome-able and mindless task because I held the mindset that it will be over and I’d be in a new city by morning. The discomfort is only temporary.
8. Mankind is Your Teacher- You can learn something from everyone. Keep your ears and heart open to what others subconsciously teach you simply by listening to their story.
9. Increase Your Political Awareness- Other countries seem to be more up to date on American Politics and foreign affairs than the majority of Americans. Brush up on American politics and history because many foreigners are willing to discuss it. Media doesn’t seem to be as restricted in other parts of the world and it is surprising to see the reactions of friends and family back home that don’t even know about the current EU affairs that effect the US.
10. Don’t Judge a Country Based on its Common Reputation- Don’t make strong judgments about countries before you visit them based on other’s opinions. Going into a new country with the mindset that their culture is rude and won’t respond to you in English attracts that sort of negative energy. Good people are out there and with an open mind and a good intuition you will find those locals willing to help you and share their culture.
11. Friendship Circles Will Be Challenged and Changed- You may lose a lot of connections back home but you will make many more along the road. Not everyone will support you on your exciting journey. I was surprised to find that some of my best friends unfollowed me from social media. Along my journey some of my closest friendship encounters were with people close to my parent’s age. I just love their experience and they are more than happy to share their story and give advice.
12. Money Buys Happiness Through Experiences, Not Things- Not once along my journey did I crave owning the newest designer handbag over a kayaking excursion or bungee jumping.
13. Stop giving a F#@k- Eventually, you will stop caring about what people think because you will literally never see these people again, and if you do, they likely won’t remember. People are usually caught up in their own “movie” so constantly thinking that you are being judged will only hold you back. Look around every once in a while and witness how many people are paying close attention to you instead of their instagram feed or incessant thoughts about work, home, food and so forth.
14. There is Always a Way Out- When you feel like you’ve reached whit’s end, there is always one more think you can do. Never completely give up. If you are a complete pessimist, phone an optimistic friend, if possible, for more insight and of course, when in doubt meditate!
15. Go For it!- Playing hard to get is a time waster. Expecting a man (or woman) to court you amidst short term travels is a rarity so if you want it go and get it. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be in a new place by the morning.
16. Talk to Everyone- Everyone has a story and you never know what they have to offer until you hear it. We live in a give and take world, where being social and looking for mutual connections in which we can exchange advice, experience and memories makes it all worth it. A friend I made couchsurfing happened to be visiting Dublin at the same time I was living there and this week spent with him resulted in more life long friendships, job opportunities, celebrity encounters and excellent advice than I could have imagined.
17. Know How to Trust Over Who to Trust- This is solely based on intuition. I learned as a child that if I ever needed help I should ask a woman first and then the authorities. As a women, I’ve experienced the mistrust in law enforcement and other women which has tainted my perception over who can help me. Majorly, men have proven to be the most helpful along my journey, but only the ones I’ve allowed myself just enough trust.
18. Love Your Temporary Friendships- Appreciate moments spent with the most amazing people that you will likely never see again. Whether you share a great night out or a study abroad term, many of the people you could consider your greatest travel buddies will go their own way and if neither person makes the effort to meet in the future, this relationship remains a good memory.
19. Stay in Shape- Whether you travel to a destination with a never ending bikini season or plan on hiking the tallest mountains, staying fit is necessary. Jog or bike through new cities and eat as clean as possible to stay healthy. There are no excuses.
20. This Too Shall Pass- This is my all time favorite message, so much so that my skin is permanently inscribed with this belief. Through the good times and the hard times, remember that it will end so appreciate the moment because it will soon be a memory as either something you accomplished or something you overcame.