I’m naturally a pretty quiet person (though some might say otherwise). I love going out and spending time with my friends, but I also love quiet time at home. My entire life I’ve been labeled “the quiet one”. When I was younger I frequently got asked, “Do you speak?” by people I didn’t know well. I started to really hate that about myself. I felt like it was a hurdle I had to overcome if I ever wanted to be successful. Then the summer before my senior year in college I decided to study abroad in Spain. I intentionally did not go through my university; instead I went with an outside program where I wouldn’t know anyone. In some ways it was a test. Can you do this? What will you do when you have no one to hide behind? How will you get by without your safety net of friends? Needless to say, it was quite the shock at first. But I adapted, and eventually it became a whole lot easier. I passed the test. I think I knew all along that I would, but I needed that extra push. Without even realizing it in the moment, I was living out the mantra that I’ve been trying to live by recently - If something scares you, do it. The fear that comes from the unknown is something that I want to continue to confront, face on. I’ve realized that I need that uncomfortableness in my life to challenge myself. I need a little kick in the pants.
As I travel more and more, certain places start to remind me of other places that I’ve been. Sometimes it’s the streets or the style of the buildings, other times it’s the specific mix of restaurants and food, or the way that people act and other subtle cultural aspects. When things start to blur together in my head I begin to question the point of traveling. If so many of the things are similar, especially in this very globalized world that we live in today, then what’s the point? Is it just for the fun of it - just for the sheer thrill of getting away? Is it just to give us an excuse to indulge in wine at lunchtime without feeling guilty about it? Or is it just to say “I’ve been there - check!”?
Don’t get me wrong, none of those reasons are bad reasons to travel. And sometimes I do just want to get away and have a cocktail at noon. But even when I lose sight of the reasons I travel, I know deep down that there’s a deeper purpose. It’s not solely about the great food and spectacular sights (though they are most definitely perks). For me, it’s about expanding my worldview by experiencing new things. Being in a new place helps give me a fresh perspective on life. It’s all the little things that add up and make me realize that there’s so much more to life. There’s so much that I don’t know. It’s in the awkward language exchanges, the daily, seemingly mundane customs, and the way that traveling forces you outside your comfort zone.
No matter how many places I go, there’s always more to see and learn, and that’s why I keep going.
What gives you that kick in the pants?
Image source: Eastlyn Bright
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