The Emotional Rollercoaster of Life: How to Cope with Grief and Maintain Hope
September 19, 2019
 

The Truth About Traveling: How Exploring the World Helps You Discover Yourself

At the heart of every travel adventure, lies a deeper desire to cultivate change in our lives. We crave new destinations because we ultimately crave something new within ourselves.

Maybe life has become monotonous. Or we’re finding our free spirits. Or there is an itch inside of us that we can’t quite explain.

It’s why travel is on so many people’s bucket lists. We dream of stretching our lives beyond the daily routines and paths we are on.

We are creatures of novelty after all. Our spirits need it. We are happier when we experience new things. No matter how comfortable we are in the lives we have built, somewhere in us is a version that wants something more.

For the past 13 years, I have had a dream to travel the world. It is a dream I have tucked in the corner of my mind because my career quickly unfolded and took hold of my focus.

Starting one job became finding the next job, then became starting a private practice, then became seven years of living in Washington DC building that practice.

Before I knew it, I had settled into a rhythm. It was a successful rhythm, but it was a rhythm built on a success and goals, not an inner truth.

Inside of me has always been an explorer. Some would call it a restless spirit, but for those of us like you and me who love to travel, we know it’s something quite different.

We crave change in our journey, not a singular path. The idea of living the same way of life terrifies us. We hate being stuck. We never want to be too comfortable.

The key is to make sure we listen to that desire and act on it.

Fast-forward to today and after a journey that included selling my private practice along with most of my possessions, I write this looking out at the green rolling hills of the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand,

Seven weeks into my dream adventure, I have already spent five weeks prior exploring Australia. The experiences are so vast and so many that it is a whirlwind of novelty, the very thing I craved for so long.

The irony is that this journey has become so much more than “ticking” items off of my own bucket list and even bigger than seeing the world.

While my travels have taken me to iconic locations like Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, the expansive stillness of Kangaroo Island, and admiring the structural beauty that is the Sydney Opera House, the best discoveries have not come in the destinations, but within discovering more of myself.

 
 
 
 

There are 3 truths I’ve discovered in my world travels so far - truths that I think all of us need to know for our journeys in life.

Truth 1: You Will Crave Comfort

Five weeks into my one-way ticket, a surprise showed up at my door. It happened when I least expected it, having arrived when I had just completed an epic leg of touring the Whitsunday Islands.

That surprise, my fellow free-spirit, was homesickness. I found myself missing my home, the mountains of Park City, the friends I have there, and being just a short flight to family.

In the thick of a tropical paradise, surrounded by the bluest waters I have seen, I craved comfort.

It was humbling. I began to question myself and wonder, “am I really made to do this?”

I felt like an explorer imposter.

“What kind of traveler am I if I get homesick?”

I think too often we are bombarded with a postcard version of life. We see highlight reels from the lives of people we love and people we admire, but not often enough do we see the vulnerable side - the other truth behind the photos and posts.

My homesickness happened in just a moment and it has continued to show up, which it will for the months ahead. I know that now. The lesson I learned, though, is that I will crave comfort and because I crave it, I must create it.

I find comfort in the constants I have with me. I find comfort in the routines I have in my day to day life.

Yes, even while traveling. I find the need for routine, actually now more than ever.

I find comfort in reaching out and sharing my experiences to make the world feel a little more small. I find comfort in knowing that I can always go home or I can always keep exploring.

I have the power to make that choice.

Comfort is the opposite of novelty, I’ve learned. We can not have one without the other, so the best thing to do while traveling is to embrace both.

Truth 2: Fear Will Show Up in Your Adventure

Traveling pushes your limits. It takes courage to make the plan. Set it into motion and throw yourself into a new place and a new culture. I have had many incredible people along the way so far share how inspired they are by my journey. One friend from graduate school even told me “I’m a badass.”

But the truth is that behind the journey is a woman who is facing more fears that I ever thought I would.

I have faced my fear of flying (ironic, I know). I have faced my fear of the water. I have faced my fear of creating a life of location independence that I can’t even believe how good it feels.

These fears have created ripples of nerves in me that I have had to learn to find my calm and use the fear as a lesson.

When we are planning any adventure, it is so vital to embrace whatever emotions we feel. It will be joyful and ideally joyful most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that travel (or any change for that matter) won’t have it’s moments where you have to push your limits.

If I had let my fear of flying take hold, I would be still be sitting on my couch.

If I had let my fear of not being a good swimmer take hold, I would have never gone snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.

I would have never experienced the beautiful coral, the schools of fish, and the quiet of the ocean.

I would have never found my love of the water.

The woman you see in this photo is both exhilarated and scared out of her mind to jump in that water.

 
 
 
 

If you find yourself questioning your fear because you been bombarded by the perfect images of Instagrammers with their perfectly lit Instagrammable posts having the times of their perfect lives - seeing the awesome facade of globetrekking, the smiles, the epic locations - know this…

It’s ok to be afraid. You're going to be afraid.

It’s ok to embrace those fears. You don’t have to share that you’re afraid, but you can own it. You can use it as fuel.

Every time you feel fear, know that you are feeling it because YOU choose to go on this adventure.

You choose courage and because of that, you will feel fear.

Just like comfort and novelty, you can not have courage without the fear. They compliment each other, like a perfect yin and yang, keeping your journey in check while you keep pushing on.

Truth 3: You Are Just One Decision Away from Your Dream

For a brief time in 2006, I lived in New Zealand. That country forever stole a piece of my heart. I will always remember how gutted I felt sitting in that window seat, watching the skyline of Wellington quickly grow smaller, making me that much closer to getting back to the US.

That moment was seared in my brain, and I held onto it for 13 years. 2007 passed, so did 2008, so did a decade.

Every year that went by was another “resolution” where I told myself, “THIS will be the year I go back.”

I let comfort, fear, and life take hold, even though I was just one decision away from going back.

One decision to take one flight.

That’s all I needed to do at some point over the past 13 years to live a dream to return back to a country I fell in love with and explore it just a little bit more.

When we think of our big bucket list dreams, too often we tell ourselves that "it’ll have to wait. The time isn’t right. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too broke. I’m too committed. I’ve worked too hard to leave what I’ve built. I could never do it."

Insert whatever self-talk you have going on in your mind. It’s just a tape-loop of excuses telling you that you can’t.

When the actual truth is, you are just ONE decision away from making a dream happen.

Flying from Brisbane to Auckland was 3 hours of reflection in a window seat. As I was looking down at the Tasman Sea, I realized the power of choice. I have always been just one flight away.

Whatever that dream is for you...whatever that destination is, be it a place to travel, a goal, a job, a pursuit, you are so much closer than you think to making it happen.

What These Truths Have in Common

Each of these truths is about perspective. You can choose whatever lens you want in how you see the world, but most important, how you see yourself. If you embrace comfort along your journey, and fear with courage, you can create anything that you want at any time.

If there’s one thing I can say about travel, it’s that it is a path of self-discovery. As you’re reflecting on these truths, wherever you are in the world and in your life, know that the real power lies in creating the space to explore yourself.

Sending massive love and light on your journey,

Jen

P.S. Need a hand in creating your dream life? Or maybe you feel stuck and just want a game plan to create change? Check out my book “The 90 Day Life: How to Live More in 3 Months than You Have in 3 Years" where you’ll learn the 9 steps to create a life of freedom, adventure, and finding your truth.

 

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