It’s an interesting question that comes up between long-term travelers. Are you running towards something or away from something? Are you escaping the past, or are you seeking a new future?
Of course in most cases, it’s a little of both. I think when people start traveling, they think they will become an entirely new person (I sure did on my first solo trip), and this could not be further from the truth. Like most of life, traveling is its own journey. When you’re in your daily routine, it’s easy to blame your surroundings for your faults. Traveling is enlightening because it wipes away all of your excuses. It’s just you out there. All your good qualities. All your bad qualities. When you remove the surroundings you are accustomed to, you finally put yourself on a path to make yourself who you want to be.
“No matter where you go, there you are.” -Confucius
One of my favorite parts of traveling is hearing the incredible stories from people you would usually not talk to otherwise. From a war hero describing intense acts of valor, to a healer who can have conversations with nature, you would never guess they were different from “the norm” unless you let them tell their story. We stay in our small bubbles – it’s the easy thing to do, and it’s considered bizarre to ask deep questions to someone you just met. Travelers open up because there is no judgment. No one is watching. Everyone is genuinely interested in each other. A lot of times, you end up feeling closer to people you’ve known for three days than some friends you’ve known for three years back home.
In most of the western world, you are expected to get a job with a cozy cubicle, get married, and as Steve Jobs said, “try not to bash into the walls too much.” Any deviation is considered an “experience.” But everything in life is a great experience, even the painful ones – because you know what? We are alive! If you really want to go after a dream, guess what? You can. Just in the past week, I met a 70-year old man as well as a couple with a 3-year old kid who had been traveling for over a year. They made it work, and so can you.
Clichés are popular because they are true, but humans are incredibly bad are thinking abstract. “Life is short” is a useless phrase because it doesn’t spur action – we hear it too often. How about this, let’s take baby steps. Before we figure out how to do what you love, let’s flip the equation around. Start with this – Stop doing things you hate. Seriously! How much happier would you be if you just went cold turkey on everything you hate doing. Go ahead, get a pen and paper, and write down everything you hate doing! At the end of this week, I challenge you to eliminate or automate at least one.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been” -George Eliot
So instead of living through other people, live through yourself. That could be traveling or it could be a million other amazing opportunities you choose for your life. But don’t say you can’t do it.
Because you can.
What’s on your list of things you hate doing? Do you need creative suggestions on how to start eliminating those? Let me know in the comments below!