How I've Changed Since Traveling


Growing Up as a Person and Liking the New Me ... All Thanks to Traveling

Two years ago I wrote about what traveling has taught me in Reflections from the Road. But in the last two years, I've continued to grow and change as a person, all thanks to the lessons that I learned while traveling. I've gone from a book smart kid to a street smart woman, and while I'm working on my insecurities and my flaws, I am very grateful for the person that I have become.

I'm more willing to try things that scare me: Climb that really tall and steep hill? Alright. Take rickety stairs to the top of a bell tower? Sure. Walk into an event with a room full of people I don't know? I'll try! It seems that these days I'm willing to try anything once just to not miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. All the things that I promised myself in a state of panic I would never do I have done in the last year. Take a large boat on open water: check! Live by the sea: check! I still have anxiety, but at least it is no longer paralyzing.

I'm ok with not knowing where my life is going: I used to be obsessed with planning my life out and knowing what I was doing. Now I live day by day, and even make plans at the last minute. I live one year at a time. I have no clue what my future holds, where I'll live, what I'll do. Right now I just have tentative goals. But I'm content with not knowing. It's part of the beauty of living in the moment.

I've become more political: in the past, if you asked me what was going on in politics, I would not have been able to answer. Sure I could say who the president and vice president were, but other than that, I had practically no clue what was going on. But since traveling, my eyes have opened and I have realized how privileged I am to remain completely ignorant of what is going on and be unaffected. Others in the world do not have this privilege. So today I try to stay informed, not just to protect and promote my own rights, but to allow the people whose rights are being violated or discredited and whose voices are being silenced to be heard and advocate for their advancement and their rights.

I'm more extroverted: when I was living in France, I was completely content with going to work, visiting family occasionally, and traveling often. But today that seems to be different. I crave some social interaction with friends. I don't want to spend my entire weekend cooped up doing homework. Yes, I still need days of avoiding people, but I've realized that I've become more of an extroverted introvert. And I'm happy with those changes.

I'm more in tune with my age: for some reason, turning 26 this year really affected me. Maybe it's because my twenties will soon be over. Maybe it's because I am one of the oldest in my group of friends now. Maybe it's because I have new goals, adult goals, and I don't live in that travel dream anymore. When I was younger I always tried to act older, but today it seems like time is flying by too fast, that there's so much to see and do and so little time. No, I'm not getting morbid. It just really hit me that I am an adult with adult responsibilities! So now I just want to appreciate the moment, take one day at a time, and enjoy the great adventure that is life.

I'm not passing up opportunities: thanks to my newfound extrovertedness, my understanding of my anxiety, and my steadfastness not to let life slip away, I don't pass up opportunities. I'll try new things, go to that party, visit that country, and enjoy the experience and what it teaches me.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I still see that shy girl. But sometimes I also see a different person. Maybe it's just the act of growing up. But my journey to adulthood, however unconventional, has been a blessing and has shaped the woman I am today.

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