Up until recently, I spent my days dreaming that I would travel to an exotic destination and find myself somewhere in between. I watched and read Eat, Pray, Love religiously and I yearned to have my own moment of self discovery, whatever that meant.
Now when I hear the phrase it strikes me as a strong cliche, a dolled up phrase that still leaves me confused. What does that even mean, to find yourself? What’s missing? I would be lying if I said I don’t come back with a feeling that I know myself a little better than I did before traveling. So, what exactly happens when you travel? What is there to find out there?
Dreaming To Escape
When I worked as a hostess, I would constantly fantasize about one day being able to explore a country and drop my job to leave it all behind. I would spend my days outdoors, hiking, discovering new places and learning about myself.
This summer, that’s exactly what I did. And it got boring, really fast. Road tripping across Canada, I hiked mountains, witnessed beautiful sights and fell in love with my country, but I carried with me a sense of longing for more. I missed working towards a career and learning new things, challenging myself along the way. I just couldn’t vacation forever, even though I once believed that would have been the ultimate dream. Soon, I realized that my fantasy was just an escape from a job I hated. From a life I had neglected to create out of love, honesty, and my passions. We often dream of an escape, when all we really need is a change.
Change of Scenery
When you find yourself in a new environment, you’re given the chance to clear your mind and think freely. All outside influences like friends, family, work, or society are miles away. The people you meet while on your travels will have a lasting impact on your life. They are people you may never have met otherwise, and they each have their own story. It’s incredibly eye opening and refreshing to learn from these people, who are each traveling for their own reasons. I’ve met so many people with unique life perspectives along my travels. People who were brave enough to follow their dreams and to live a life they were proud of. Cherish these unique stories and perspectives that they offer to you.
When I was driving through Canada on my own, I had over 50 hours of time to think about my life. That’s a lot of time! It wasn’t always easy, sitting alone with my thoughts. Unresolved emotions and events played through my mind like film. Wherever I would drive, my thoughts came with me. If I took a break at a gas station, as soon as I drove a few miles, there they would be- reminding me they hadn’t gone anywhere. My thoughts were like tangled ribbons I had to sift through, one by one to untangle my mind.
I’ve never had that much time for self-reflection, but as difficult as it was it gave me the clarity I was searching for so diligently through travel. It was through these hours of driving that I realized what I wanted to do for myself. The life that I was looking for had always lied right in front of me, but only when I realized that on my own, could I embrace it.
A New Appreciation
When I returned from my month long road trip, I felt different from any other trip I had taken before. Driving across the provinces of Canada, I realized how beautiful my own home was. After spending so many years dreaming of living anywhere but home, I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else.
Travel is a funny thing. It gives you a new perspective, sometimes one you never expected to gain. Often what we set out to find or gain through travel is not what we end up with. But that’s the beauty and mystery of the experience that I’ve come to love in the end. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
What are your experiences with travel? Have you ever felt different after a trip you took? I’d love to hear your stories!