It started with a trip to Italy, the summer before my freshman year. And then you couldn’t stop me. It seemed I was always finding a way to convince my parents that my next trip was vital.
Travel had become central to my life. But it wasn’t until after college, when I had an encounter with an old friend, that I could really pinpoint why it was so important to me.
I remember, my Mom was having a party, and I was sitting around with a group of dear, old friends. I had been on a trip earlier that year. And I was telling them all about it.
At the end of my story I said, “I’ll never stop traveling. It will always be an essential part of my life.”
One of them replied, “Oh, that will change. As you get older your priorities shift, you’ll be working and travel just won’t be important.”
Blinking at him in disbelief, I felt his words as if they were a blow to the chest. And my mind began to race. “Will I stop traveling? Is this just a thing I do now while I’m young?
His words echoed in my head for months after that conversation. They stung every time. And looking back I realized why I was so upset by his assertion.
Travel had become something I used to carve out my own identity. Free, away from home, away from the community I grew up in, I could get the distance and the perspective I needed to feel out who I was and what I wanted to become.
At the time, if you had taken that away from me, I’d be lost.
Growing up, I felt a lot of pressure, pressure to be in a certain line of work and pressure to achieve great levels of success. And my family set the bar very high.
Not only did I feel stress to succeed, I also had no idea what I was passionate about.
But travel is what guided me to my burgeoning career in journalism and inspirational entertainment. Without it, I would most likely be in a job I find unfulfilling.
Now that I am a few years older and out of those intensely formative years, I still feel that continued travel is important to my growth and overall happiness.
For one, it keeps me young – adventurous and curious.
And it stops me from falling into the traps of expectations. So, instead of modeling my life to fit into a prescription written by society or any anticipation passed on by a family member, I stand strong in my self-definition and my own expectations.
For example, when I travel I experience how common sense and social norms are different in other places. Seeing that reminds me of the freedom we all have to create our own guidelines and follow our own hearts.
And I think everybody could benefit in this way from travel.
So, whether you are a teen, of college age, or older – travel is a great way to awaken you to your own, inner beat and to help you make decisions that are authentic to you.
With travel as a tool in my back pockets, I am emboldened with every trip to follow my passions and create a life that I truly want to live. Care to join me?