A Reflection: The Journey Thus Far
I'm currently writing this from the back of a camper van in South Island, New Zealand. I know! What is my life right now?! As I embark on month four of this 12+month long journey, I can't help but reflect on this journey thus far. This experience has been like this mural, full of chaos but somehow refreshingly beautiful! You know I'm all about those cliche sayings ;)
I think the biggest and most amazing thing about this group travel experience is the fact that I feel no social, economic, or career hierarchy...
In a world where we’re criticized for our looks, intelligence, socioeconomic status, and more, it’s easy to lose yourself and sight of who you are, what you are. I gotta tell you, it is the MOST refreshing feeling to not feel like I’m having to prove myself in one way or another. Here, we’re not identified by our careers, looks, intelligence level, or income. Initially, as I am one of the younger ones in the group, I was super intimidated by the others in my group. They're all super accomplished people, in more ways that one.
I quickly realized they were here for the same reasons as me: here to learn, to grow, to have an experience. We're doing to learn, not doing to be seen. You truly get to do what you want to do. There is never any pressure to do something like a social outing or engagement. If you have to work or want to take time to work on something, everyone supports your decision.
We're all figuring something out. And most incredibly, we have something to learn from each other and something to offer each other. Having something to offer to others was not something I ever really viewed myself as having. I’m still not entirely sure what I have to offer, but I do know these people tolerate me and are genuine towards me, so there must be something, right?
I think it’s the fact that coming in to this situation, we’re all immediately being pushed outside of our comfort zone, so that and our love for travel is our common ground. We can respect each other for that much.
Here, there is no hiding, just being vulnerable, open and honest with yourself and others. It’s a weird and comforting feeling. You all know that coming into this journey, one of my biggest things was tackling my hearing loss head on. And like I’ve mentioned, I had to basically expose myself two days into this whole thing when I was asked to present this passion project. Talk about terrifying. But nobody even flinched. People were embracive and welcoming. I started wearing my hair up more, and nobody looked(s) at me funny. It’s a new feeling, a newfound confidence.
Now, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Being vulnerable and exposed means you experience lots of ups and downs. I think it’s safe to say this applies to everyone in my group. We’re pushed beyond our cultural norms, but we’re in it together, so we conquer it together. We’re growing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually individually and together. It’s all on a more human level and not a societal (expectation) level. What I mean is that I can (almost) very briefly tell you what each person in the group does for money, but I can definitely analyze their likes, dislikes, what makes them tick, what kind of person they like to date, what their upbringing was like, etc. When was the last time you had a conversation with people about these kind of things and not just career goals, money, or who they know?
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s such a nice feeling to not be asked “what do you do?” the first time I meet someone. And maybe it’s because we see each other wearing the same clothes over and over again, so there’s no appearance competition, but it’s pretty awesome to see the human connection and relationship really come to the forefront.
It’s almost reminiscent of college but better and different. We’re around each other a lot, but you have the ability to fully dictate how much you see each other, how much you participate in, and what you are working towards (professionally and personally).
And to be honest, all that I’ve just said applies completely outside of my group as well, with anyone I come in contact with in my travels. Just curious humans wanting to learn and connect with other curious humans. The hustle and bustle becomes a lot slower, and the ability to be present is more attainable. Time flies and somehow stands still when your routine (surroundings and day to day life) is skewed.
Straying from routine is so hard for me, but it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done, so I challenge you to step out of your bubble. It doesn’t have to be traveling, but something that leaves you questioning your decisions :)
It’s only been 3 full months for me to feel completely different, renewed, and comfortable (yet uncomfortable if that makes sense). To say I’m excited, hopeful, and scared for the next part of this journey is an understatement!