Today is my very last day in Greece, I’ll be on a plane most of the day heading back home. I can’t believe it! Three whole weeks of guest posts have gone by and I’ve got just one more for you. This one is very special to me because my real life friend Selina (who doesn’t blog, doesn’t tweet and hardly uses Facebook, I’m telling you!) who’s one of the girls with me in Greece, took some time to write this absolutely amazing and inspiring post.
Selina and I have been friends since 7th grade (we were 12 years old!) and we’ve been through a LOT together in the last 10 years. I’m so happy to be on this amazing vacation with her, and most importantly I feel a lot better knowing she’s there because she’s been on more than one REALLY big trip across the world.
She knows that I’m a regular blogger, and when I asked her if she’d like to share some of her experiences from her 2 months in South America and her summer in Vancouver, she immediately agreed. Take some time to read through the advice she’s given below- it’s more than just travel advice in my opinion, these are things that I can carry with me every single day. Her trips changed the person she is for the better, and she learned some really important things to take with her for the rest of her life.
Plus she has amazing pictures. I’m serious, check it out! Leave her some kind words in the comments below since she won’t be able to meet any of you in any other way 🙂
5 Things I’ve learned through traveling.
1. Take chances- you never know what awaits.
I have a few mottos in life and among those “do the thing that scares you the most” is definitely one of them. When I left for South America on May 27th 2009, I didn’t hesitate. I felt ready for a new journey and a huge risk. I had no idea where South America was, let alone the countries that made it up until it was months before my trip. I was absolutely terrified at the idea at first but when I thought about it, I couldn’t help but tell myself it was time. It is difficult to stick to an idea that puts you so outside your comfort zone you don’t know how to prepare mentally, but when your ticket is bought; there’s no turning back. I can’t lie there were several times I thought about hiding under the covers but it was electrifying to know I was going to do something that scared me to death. Even when it came to leave for my west coast of Canada adventure last summer; I couldn’t help but think “what if I don’t come back”. Life is so unpredictable that you just never know what’s waiting for you around the corner. I was leaving for the summer again but this time I was 100% alone. I was worried I wouldn’t like it out there and I wouldn’t find a job and it was absolutely difficult at first. Saying goodbye to my parents and new boyfriend at the airport was incredibly difficult. At the end of all of it though, I have no regrets; which to me is the most important thing. It took me taking quite a few terrifying decisions and risks to feel this way about my life but sometimes trusting life has something to teach you, you pack your bag and go.
2. Perseverance is absolutely crucial in life.
I was gone for 2 and a half months to South America which seemed like a long time when I booked the trip but it turned out to not be long enough. It felt like forever at certain points- don’t get me wrong. I was traveling with my older brother and for anyone who has siblings imagine what that could be like; being with your older brother 24 hrs a day and he is the only person you know. Let’s just say after a month and a half I had had just about enough of him and decided to go it alone. It was once again the most petrifying thing I think I have ever done. I could have gone home but I refused to let him ruin my trip and I couldn’t disappoint myself. I imagined this trip to be a new beginning, a new me. I set out to learn about the world and about myself and I wasn’t satisfied with the work I had done thus far. In my mind it was I either stay with him and regret lots of things or take the otherwise unimaginable choice to split up from him. My parents were less than thrilled but believed I would figure it out because I refused to go home. They knew very well they weren’t about to convince me anyways. When I think back to that situation; I pushed through a hard time to get to the other side. Perseverance is not easy to find inside through the rough times but it takes bad to get to the good. We all need to search deep in those moments and it’s there- even when we don’t think it is. When I came home feeling a new sense of self and happier than ever I felt I had absolutely made the right decision.
3. Forgive yourself- only you can. It will set you free
While I was away- on both my trips I found myself going over all the mistakes I hadn’t let myself off the hook about. It felt monotonous and never ending put downs in my mind. I was consistently hard on myself for many situations I had handled the wrong way or things I had said. It’s interesting when you travel alone how you learn to live with your thoughts to the fullest capacity. It’s just you and your mind on 24hr long bus rides. The first three weeks on both trips- all I could think about was what was going on back home, until I realized it doesn’t have any significance for me in what I was living in that moment. It stressed me to not be home and not know what my family and friends were doing while I wasn’t there but gosh is that tiring. After a few weeks of this I gave up. I had to learn to live in the moment. Anything I was living in that particular moment was worth more of my energy than any stress back home was making me feel. I figured out after a little while that I was stressed about back home because I didn’t want things to change while I was gone. I worked so hard to make my life the way it was that I didn’t want it to unravel while I was away. The understanding that this was ridiculous came with forgiving myself. It sounds strange but for me it went hand in hand. I was always so concerned with what others thought of me that I never truly loved myself. I wanted others to love me therefore, pushing me to do things that would make others happy. When I forgave myself for not always being true to myself was able to fully accept who I was. To move forward you need to forgive your mistakes in the past and accept that now it is time to change. Forgiveness is accepting that the past couldn’t have been any different. I believe this is the first step to loving yourself and accepting you for you.
4. To love unconditionally and always- as much as you can.
I think love sets you free. I think love is many things but to me on my trips I began to think of love as; giving your friends and family the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people do and say things that make you upset. Everyone has experienced this feeling of uncontrollable anger and I hated that about myself growing up. There were so many situations in life that made my upset and I wanted to be able to control that in me. I began to understand that the first step to doing that is giving the people around you, that you know love you, the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people do things they don’t mean to and say things that are well intentioned but come out wrong. If you know they love you- understand this concept and it will make you happier and stronger over your emotions. We don’t know everything there is to know about the people we are close and the situations what occur around us. Therefore, I began to think about all the information that was unknown to me about the circumstance before having any feelings about a situation. This is a difficult thing to do and it happens to me today but when you are able to step back and realize there are million unknowns about people- it becomes a lot easier to be happy and loving.
5. Don’t ever forget yourself. Remember what you want and who you are.
Through all of my travels I have acquired knowledge about the world and people but most importantly about myself. Even when I was pushing through a hard time I always had a gut feeling inside that guided me. It wasn’t easy in any way to know which direction to take when I came to forks in my path but there was always something in me that already knew. Some might say it’s my gut or my instinct; I think it’s like the necklace my best friend gave me- my heart. If I can follow my heart through my life it was always guide me exactly where I need to go. It’s as simple as that. Discover the world, yourself and just know that no matter what happens things will always work out. Send positive energy into the world and experiment. There were many times I couldn’t imagine how such a horrible scenario could work out and it always did. I think this was because of positivity, perseverance, love, forgiveness and risks.