As breath taken with excitement as I was before I boarded the plane for my first trip overseas, I was utterly unprepared for just how much it would change me. I had foolishly, naively assumed that Los Angeles would not be much different from Australia. Although I had yearned to go to the US since I can remember, I hadn’t counted on the travel bug biting so hard. Here’s how traveling overseas completely changed me.
1. It got me out of my comfort zone
Your mama ain’t a phone call and a short drive in the car away. Your home is your suitcase and whatever town you’re hanging your hat in. You have to give up the comforts of your roots accordingly. You’re forced to uproot, to drift, to make do, to improvise, to compromise and to say “fuck it” a lot.
It gets you thinking outside the box and embracing the unknown. You throw anxieties of your everyday existence to the wind as you take on more important ones. In turn, it coaxed me out of my shell. It invited me to form connections with strangers, forget the shit that didn’t matter and be okay with my routines being turned upside down.
2. I will pass by this way but once and so I have to see everything
I may never be here again. There’s no tomorrow, there’s no next time. There’s only the connection I have with the present moment. There’s only now. And so I soak up every precious second and I explore fully, radiantly, with all my senses. I wander down that path, I jump on that bus, I stop at that curious museum I walk past. I will pass by this way but once.
3. I realized how important freedom was to me
I realized that I couldn’t be a slave to the 9 to 5, the white picket fence in the burbs with a huge mortgage and long commute, a slave to the vice tight pressure of societal obligation, the “done way” of doing things. Instead, I had to do more of this. I had to see everything on the planet with the short amount of time I have on it. I had to step into my authenticity and squeeze every last drop out of life. I got clear about what I wanted, how I wanted to do it and who I wanted to do it with.
4. I fell in love with life again
From the second we touched down in LAX, though the sky was grey with rain and we were stuck in traffic on the freeway, everything was in vibrant technicolor. There seemed to be music everywhere. The colours seemed brighter. It was as if every one of all five of my senses turned all the way up and I felt connected to pure magic. I was connected with the present moment. I felt achingly alive and it was wonderful.
5. I realised just how big the world really is and how narrow my perceptions of the world really are
My perceptions of the world’s size were blown open when I realized I had flown around the world and touched down in another city in another continent and country, with its own unique blend of people, cultures, landscapes, and customs. Suddenly my problems seemed so small and almost laughable. It forced me to contemplate the fact that even the place I was in was still just one place out of millions in the world. I had one stamp in my passport and people have filled up the entirety of theirs.
And even should I see the world in its entirety, miraculously – our world is a tiny little planet in a gigantic solar system which is one of the smallest in the galaxy, which is just one of thousands of galaxies… and so on, and so forth. My whole view of the universe and the space I occupy within it shifted entirely. It was once terrifying, liberating and empowering.
6. I learned how liberating it is to forget about itineraries, to do lists and societal pressure and just do life your way
Not being an asshole. Not being arrogant. Just living your life joyfully the way you want to live it. You feel like your capacity to give more to others becomes infinite. I learned about the playful curiosity that comes with living life through a rough guideline rather than a plan. Everything becomes free and relaxed and you attract things beyond your wildest dreams when you’re living in that ease and presence and joy.
7. I learned “there are as many ways to live in this world as there are people in this world and each one deserves a closer look”
I learned that for its sins, I live in a lucky country. It taught me not to judge people by a cultural perception. I grew up. I looked at the world differently, at myself differently and at other people differently. On the other side of the world and everything felt familiar… yet completely different.
I learned that everybody has a story, a dream, a way of living that is so different and yet so similar that in their own way they could easily be you. I learned that I really was connected to everyone else on this planet.
As someone who tends to be an anxious homebody who likes routine, stability, and sameness, I don’t seem to fit the mold of someone who craves adventure, travel and seeing new places, but truly, it makes me come alive. And one more thing I learned… the further my horizon expands, the harder that travel bug bites. I didn’t choose the travel blogger life… the travel blogger life chose me.