It’s officially been four years since I’ve left the Philippines and embarked on a journey traveling solo – internationally.
Being back in the motherland, I feel all sorts of emotions. I feel like I’ve stepped into a parallel dimension where things have felt so different. When I met up with old friends, it all felt so unreal.
It felt like a dream where I felt I was in the moment and living it but I wanted to reach out my hand and hold their faces to see if they were real and if the moments were real. I actually did do that to some people and I’m sure they found that weird, hah!
The closer I looked into it, I realised it is because I have changed. I’ve grown. I’ve become a version of myself so alien to who I was before I started my international travels. But all in very good ways, if I may say so.
Looking back, I wanted to take notes of some things I found to be my biggest lessons traveling alone across two large continents. Here are some of them:
Find the things that scare you and run towards them – head first
If there’s anything I encourage others and especially myself to do, it’s finding things that scare the living hell out of me or if it’s something that at least is outside of my comfort zone. If it weren’t for such experiences, I wouldn’t grow as a person. I wouldn’t learn anything.
Too often, people aren’t allowed (by parents or especially society) to make mistakes or to veer off their current path.
But if you don’t do that, how else will you learn? How else will you grow? There are plenty of things we cannot learn from other people’s experiences. We won’t fully grasp what it feels and means unless we experience it ourselves.
For years, I always chose to live in small towns because I preferred the tranquillity and simplicity of life in those places. But one day, I decided to stay for an extended period of time in a big city – something I almost swore myself never to do. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life as I found plenty of new hobbies and passions I never thought I’d get into after 30.
On one occasion, I chose to join an event with over 20 strangers. With hardly any expectations and a truckload of anxiety I pulled around with me, that was exactly how I met the closest people to my heart right now.
Go and get out of your comfort zone. If you’re scared, it’s fine. Jump in.
Alone, not lonely
Man, if I had a penny for every time I was asked, “Don’t you ever feel lonely?”
While I don’t deny that there were times I felt lonely, I hardly ever recall those moments because they were so insignificant compared to the numerous occasions I found freedom and joy in my solitude – in being alone. It’s quite a common misconception. People tie aloneness to loneliness and they couldn’t be more wrong.
Four years ago, I could never eat alone in a restaurant.
Four years ago, I could never explore places on my own.
Four years ago, I could never sit comfortably in a social setting without feeling awkward or feeling the need to talk.
Today, I’m very comfortable doing all of those and, dare I say, prefer it now.
I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned to be OK with being on my own. And I’ve reached this stage by being able to emotionally and mentally carry myself through situations. It was a hard battle but I fought and I kept challenging myself in different situations.
The world is HUGE (seriously)
While quite literally, we know the world is huge, it goes beyond the physical realm of it. The world is so huge that it shows you how worrying about insignificant things really becomes stupid. You stop picking at the smallest things like drama or gossip or trivial problems because you’ve got better use of your time.
I’ve learned to choose things that add up to my experiences and my knowledge. I’ve learned to walk away from things that don’t do me good. I’ve learned not to sulk over things I don’t have or have lost. I’ve learned to walk away from things that don’t matter.
Your goals change.
Your priorities change.
Your perspectives change.
Gift yourself the biggest favor and open yourself to the vastness of the world and what it has to offer you. How there are infinite possibilities out there that you would rather shift your focus on.
Take the leap. Have faith in yourself.