February 19th, 2018
"People don't change"; I have heard this more times than I can count, and yet it has to be one of the biggest lies I've ever been told. People do change, sometimes subtley and sometimes completely, sometimes over time and other times all at once; but the fact remains - they change. If people didn't change, then there wouldnt be relationship changes, job changes or growth within themselves (pause for groan at overly zen turn of phrase). And from personal experience, travel is a major way in which lives can be changed. I used to watch from my comfortable existance as my friends jetted off to far off places and had amazing experiences, and then I realised, the comfy life I thought I had been happy with, was no longer enough. I realised my wants had changed, my priorities had changed.....I had changed. And things have only changed more as I've started my travels; as cheesy as it sounds, I really have grown as a person, and there are a handful of major changes that not only I have noticed, but others around me have noticed as well.
I was always a confident child, and I'm sure there are plenty who would back up that statement. However, the confidence that I have gained through travelling is not your usual bolshy childhood confidence. It is a confidence that allows me to meet any situation head on, with no worries and complete faith in my own abilities. It has seen me travelling on a night bus to an unknown destination, it saw me skinny dip in the river nile, and climb mountains at 4am. The confidence I have gained is an empowering one, one that has strengthened my own self-assurance and allowed me to be comfortable being myself in every and any situation. It has allowed me to accept that somethings cannot be helped and given me the strength to get past the ugly or difficult expereiences I have encountered. Apparently this new found confidence hasn't just been noticed by me either; people have commented on this new personality I seem to have. Not only am I more confident, I'm oozing happiness and optimism too, and its positivly affecting those around me as well as myself- or so I've been told.
I used to love shopping; in fact I was a bit of a magpie back home for pretty things to decorate my flat with. However, I've become a lot less materalistic since travelling. And thank goodness I have! If it doesnt fit in my 85 litre bag then I dont need it, and that is even too much at times. It has allowed me to be picky about what I buy, and has improved my present buying habits as well. No more buying crappy useless presents that nobody wants, instead I am more atune to buying things that people would generally want or need. It has enabled me to not only declutter my suitcase, but also my mind (pause here for groans at yet another cheesy turn of phrase). I'm no longer concerned with what colour make-up matches my skin tones, or what the latest fashion is. I wear whatever is culturally acceptable in the country I happen to be in at the time, make-up is a distant memory, and I only carry things I use or wear day-to-day. I have no doubt in my mind that this massive declutter of my suitcase (and life) has lent itself to the overal positivity and confidence I have gained. No more clutter to carry with me = no more stress.
Having a background in psychology, I've become pretty good at not being judgemental and being openminded walking into every situation. However, I could think of myself as the most empathetic, openminded individual in the world, and I still wouldnt have been anywhere as close as I am now I have more worldly experience. It wasnt until I travelled to third world countries, until I lived the starving and the poor, until I experienced first hand the panic of not having enough money for food etc that I would truly have any form of empathy. But then, I am always ready to be proven wrong. I know I'm not always going to know the answer, I am willing to learn from my mistakes, to admit that I was wrong. My ability to not judge people has now become second nature, and my empathy for how others live is growing day to day. I love that the world proved me wrong; whilst its true that my confidence has grown through travelling, I have also been humbled. I have been made to accept the fact that travelling is all about learning, and I dont see that learning ever having an end. I will never again assume to know what to expect in a new country, I will strive to always ask questions and to learn from every culture I encounter.
Relationships are arguably the main thing that has been affected through my travels. It has been the make or break of romantic relationships (especially in more recent months) as my travels become for longer and to further away countries. On the other hand, relationships with friends and family members have only been strengthened and I find myself closer to members of my family that I realise I had started to shut out. Relationship changes have no doubt been the biggest and hardest change with my travels; but despite this, I wouldn't go back or do anything differently. I made my decision, to choose travel over settling down, and I will never regret that. It has been a struggle - I've gone from a long term relationship and a life plan to living month-to-month, day-to-day. And the freedom I feel is unlike anything else I've ever felt! I've allowed myself to be selfish - to travel and to work and to help others through my volunteering without the worry of others and what they will think. I have gained so much freedom and it has given me more than anything I ever gained from University or staying in the same place for years on end. And it's not like I don't make new relationships all the time with travelling too. I have made some new friends whilst travelling that I have no doubt I will keep in contact with for forever and a day, others who are fleeting, but who I nonetheless still consider as friends.......and its exciting to not know who I might meet or where I will meet them.
Number Five - there is no number five as of yet
There have been some MAJOR changes in my life since I chose to travel.....but there are only 4 that I can personally see as having happened. It's true that my time and money management, my ability to sleep anywhere (even standing up), my language skills, my patience and many oither skills have been improved. However, as much as they have been improved or gained through my travels, I cannot consider them particulalry big changes to my life. Thats not to say that other things won't change - I'm certain that travel will bring more and more changes to my life. But as of this moment, in my amateur stage, I can only think of 4 things to have changed by any large degree. At the end of the day though there is one thing I can be certain of - I have changed!
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