Being away for any extended period of time, I knew I was going to have new experiences, and learn new things. I’ve gotten to experience new cultures, meet all kinds of people, deal with some big ups and downs, and change my way of thinking on a variety of topics.
While all of these experiences have played a big role in the magic of my trip, there have been a few things I have learned that really stood out to me.
1. It’s Okay to Be Alone
I’ve always been someone who appreciates and needs my alone time. But traveling on my own for 6 months now has really validated the fact that it’s totally okay, and even healthy, to be on your own! It has opened up doors that I didn’t even know were closed in the first place!
Being alone allows you to dive deep into your thoughts, your emotions, and all those parts of your mind that you have to brush the cobwebs off of.
Some of the best experiences I’ve had over the last few months have been when I’m completely on my own. It’s also forced me to work on my mental health so that my mind was someone I was happy to hangout with. Without sounding lame, being alone so much over these last six months has allowed me to grow into someone I can truly say I am proud to be.
2. Appreciate those who Actually Listen
Being away from my family and friends for so long has given me time to reflect on my relationships with everyone in my life. I’ve come to understand how important it is to appreciate people who really listen to you, simply because of how rare they are.
Value people who: really listen to you, people who ask 2nd/3rd/4th level questions, people who really want to get to know you on a deeper basis, or those people who already know you but are genuinely interested and genuinely care. That’s a rarity to find, and it’s not a trait that I am perfect at by any means, but it’s such an important thing to understand. Focus on people who care about you, and aren’t just there for you when it’s convenient for them.
3. Roll with the Punches
Shit will hit the fan. And then not only will it hit the fan but it will probably fly off and cover you and the entire room. Okay possible exaggeration but I’ve definitely had some things go wildly, wildly wrong on this trip. And as cliche as it sounds, those times that have been the most trying, have also been the most rewarding and biggest learning experiences for me.
There’s always gonna be crap that happens and it sounds so cliche but with the good comes a little bit of bad, but the good will always outweigh the bad. Rolling with the punches is the biggest learning curve possible. The most personal growth and the most important part of anyone’s journey really comes when you’re going through the thick of it and just rolling with the punches.
Most issues, even if they are the shittiest possible situation at the moment, will always be resolved and you will always continue on. And you will likely look back and laugh at the whole fiasco in the future. Complaining isn’t ever going to get you anywhere.
Just a few of my mishaps and solutions lately: (for your laughing pleasure)
- Miss your flight? –> That sucks, buy a new one and adjust your budget accordingly
- Run out of gas? –> Better start walking to the nearest town
- Slice your foot open on a remote island? –> Wrap it up and suck it up until you’re back on the mainland. (A strong drink will help too)
- Lose/break/have stolen your stuff? –> It’s just “stuff” you can get new “stuff”
- Totally lost and don’t speak the language? –> Smiles and hand signals work wonders
4. The World Isn’t as Scary as You Think
I think that a lot of people have a misconception about the world being this terrible place full of evil people who only want to do you harm. Just turn on the news and you’ll have people telling you this day in and out.
Personally I’ve seen every single episode of Law and Order SVU (if you know, you know) and I would be lying if I said I too didn’t have an irrational fear of the world.
Throwing myself into new cities and cultures on my own has lessened those worries, and I’ve met so many incredibly genuine, friendly people! I’ve been welcomed into stranger’s homes, I’ve shared meals with people who don’t speak a word of English, I’ve gotten free rides on the back of people’s scooters who just want to see me home safely. It’s been such an eye-opening adjustment of my world view!
Not even three days ago, I was completely lost in this small village in the north of Lombok, and the sun was about to set and I was getting a bit scared of how I would find my way home in the dark. A local man asked if I was alright and I explained the situation to him and he graciously drove me around the town on his scooter until we found my homestay. This village was destroyed by the earthquake last year and these people have very little. This man was so kind to offer a random tourist a ride and use his petrol, and wouldn’t even accept me trying to offer him money after! The kindness of people in this world continues to amaze me.
5. Surround Yourself with People who Fit Your Future Not Your Past
With everything I’ve said above, I think the most important thing I’ve learned at all is to surround yourself with people who fit your future and the life you want to have. You are the combination of the people you spend the most time with, so those people definitely should be ones that share the same goals and have the same visions for life and the future as you do!
6. Your Life is what YOU Make it
I’m definitely happy to have grown up in America, and am so thankful for all the opportunities that has granted to me. But at the same time, I think America has this social construct that is pushed so heavily onto everyone, and it just doesn’t need to be that way for everyone.
At home, there’s this societal pressure to: get a degree, start a career, buy a house, get married, have kids, and repeat the same day in and day out for the rest of your life. All while buying more and more and more crap we don’t need, and spending our hard-earned money on things instead of experiences.
Spoiler: you don’t need to follow that life plan! If that’s what makes you happy, then go for it 100%. But you also have the freedom to do what YOU want with your life, whether that’s traveling and working remotely, creating your own company abroad, or just doing anything that makes you happy! No one can determine how you have to live your life besides YOU.