My favourite part of travelling long distances and getting to stay a while is that I can redefine myself.
We live in a culture of self-improvement. Faith, politics, diets, exercise, New Year’s resolutions. . . are all ways we are told we can better ourselves. We all just want to do what is best, we just have different ways of achieving that. A person can believe in different faiths, can have different political ideas, and follow different fads — but at the end of the day we’re all just trying to be better people.
This has led to the rise of the ‘quick fix’ industry that takes advantage of our desires to be the best us. Superfoods, the exercise that’ll blast those abs, the shampoo that will make you hair silky soft. . . but the truth is the ‘quick fix’ is baloney. We as a culture perpetuate this idea that change is never easy, and that it’s something we should fear. But I think change can be easy if you allow it to be. You can create the change in your life by doing one simple thing: travel. It’s the ultimate change enabler.
When you try to change at home or in the environment you live, you are constantly reminded of what you were, not what you want to be. Change your hair colour, stop wearing glasses, start gaining/losing weight, change your mind on a political or social issue. . . when you travel, you can make these changes and without pause they become your reality.
There is no one to judge your past to your present, no one to comment on how, “you never used to be like that.” When you travel, who you are is completely up to you.
As I type this I can hear you saying, but what about your Facebook/social media, Tim? But honestly, what about it? Stop using it, set the privacy restrictions, make a new one. I know there is all that past just saved up on their servers giving advertisers all that juicy metadata. Trust me, you can go without for a few months if you need to. Get a new mobile, with a new number, you’ll become that one friend who doesn’t have Facebook. I can guarantee you’ll be remembered by those important to you even if you don’t check your social apps eight times a day.
When you travel a great distance for an extended amount of time, you are forced into making new friends. And with them, you can experience new things, or even better, do things you considered ‘everyday’ life with them and gain a whole new perspective. Swim in the ocean, join a dodgeball club, attend your first yoga session. . .
Anyone who knows me from back home is currently questioning if they ever really knew me at all
I recently decided to pack my bag and set off for Australia, where I will be living for the next few months. Today I got to spend two hours getting tossed around by waves that would make you feel small and helpless. I swam under a waterfall while on a hike a couple weeks ago. You know those car commercials that tell you that nature is just out there? Guess what, they were right! So I went and played in it, because why not.
Anyone who knows me from back home is currently questioning if they ever really knew me at all. I’ve become braver with guys — right now there is a cute guy I like, that I am going to hopefully spend more time with, maybe date, maybe we’ll just be what we can while we’re together? Who knows. I have no inhibitions. Nothing to stop me. I thank travel for this.
I can do all these things back in Vancouver and some days I do, some days you have that bout of motivation or bravery where you say eff you world, today you’re mine. Now imagine that feeling lasting all week, or month. I’m invincible. Travel allowed this sensation. I have no one to worry about what anyone else might think. Its very liberating. This is not to say that my friend or family back home are a hindrance or a negative influence. Far from it. All the worry and concern and hesitation comes from me and those social queues we all grow up indoctrinating ourselves into. We do it to ourselves. That’s why our personal moments of greatness are so empowering. You break those molds and become something more than before.
Sign up for a semester abroad, get an international co-op position, dive right in and get a working-holiday visa. Be everything and everyone you wanted to be.