I’ve written a bunch to you all about the importance of getting out of your comfort zones and, let me tell you, nothing does a better job of that than extended travel. Especially to a foreign country with a language barrier.
It’s actually quite scary just how out of touch you can be with the real world when you’re so caught up in your own. I say this to you because I recently returned from a trip. This year, I decided to finally visit Italy – a dream of mine since I was little. This trip was a long time coming and it was also costly, but once I arrived, I can honestly say that all of those worries I had about money and other life struggles were muted. I was forced to be in the moment.
When you experience such a culture shock you have no choice but to just be and go with it. It took me a couple of days to get used to the lifestyle I was thrown into – different eating patterns, different (but delicious) food/drink, just an overall extremely altered way of life. I found myself struggling to accept this reality until about day four…when the trip was almost half over. My mind and body were on overload from the anticipation of the trip and then the stress of arriving and figuring out where to go, how to get around, and even the simplest bits, like how the HECK do I get water to drink? I couldn’t just be! However, by that fourth day, I was able to bring everything into focus. I felt calm, relaxed, and more accepting of that reality – less stressed and anxious. In that moment, I came to realize just how much I needed that experience. I was so encased in my own reality in little ol’ North Carolina that when I was exposed to someplace so different, it felt so uncomfortable and hard to enjoy at first. That’s because I don’t get out of my comfort zone often enough. Thank you, universe, for the kick in the pants.
Let me break it down for you. I grew up in a family that always pushed me to take advantage of what life has to offer – that mostly includes pressures to travel while I’m young. I’d get so frustrated being told that all the time. I’d always respond, “It’s not that easy! This isn’t the 70s, I can’t just up and buy a plane ticket for super cheap.” Translation: “I have no money to travel like you guys did at my age!”
Then, I finally traveled abroad and it all made sense. The whole point of traveling, or at least a major part of it, is to learn and grow as an individual as you become exposed to change. It’s one thing to try to get out of your comfort zone in the comfort of your own personal space – that’s easy, BUT to physically go to a new place and let it scare the crap out of you – that’s what will change your life.
- Travel expands the mind. It may feel mentally draining at times, but it’s actually bringing you so far into the present moment that you feel overwhelmed. To understand a culture, you need to be in the moment and as open as possible to change. It makes you more willing to try new things and meet new people. Ground yourself but be flexible.
- Travel expands the body. Seriously, it’s physically exhausting. Especially in locations where transportation is limited. I walked SO much during my time in Italy. I mean miles on miles. To see a place and see it well, you need stamina unlike any other. Travel like this forces you to be active and agile.
- Travel expands the soul. Think of everything you see, feel, smell, taste, hear. There were times in Italy where I felt so in tune with who I was. I would close my eyes and take time to appreciate that feeling and familiarize myself with it so that whenever I felt lost again, that memory would help bring me back to me. Moments like that don’t come from lusting over glamour shots on Pinterest or from watching movies.
Anyway, I share this with you today in hopes that you too can find solace in traveling before you get too lost in the comfort of your own reality. The essence of exploring is to learn, grow, improve and, above all, find inspiration in yourself to keep your momentum going. It’s amazing how much capacity you have left to do all of those things! Do not pass up those opportunities even if you’re feeling challenged and intimidated. Your mind, body and soul require that kind of nurturing. You can always make money, but you can’t always make memories. Life is short. Make the trip.