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Life Lessons Learned Through 6 Months of Traveling
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Life Lessons Learned Through 6 Months of Traveling

· · · 1 comment
For the past 6 months I have been backpacking and traveling around the world. Throughout these months I have moved to a new city every week, with the exception of one 2 week stay in Edinburgh, Scotland. Going into this adventure I tried not to hold any expectations or plan too much, for I find that my greatest experiences come when I flow with what life brings me. However, throughout each city and every new country, I learned a little more about myself and grew a little stronger. Before I get into some realizations I had throughout my journey, I have to forewarn that they did not always come with ease. There were many challenges I came across along the way. Solo traveling pushed me in ways that I could never have anticipated, mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, I hold a great amount of appreciation for the downs, mistakes, and situations that went wrong, because they made me learn how to react calmly under pressure and keep my bearings straight even when plans and situations did not work in my favor.

This brings me into one of the biggest lessons I learned while backpacking. I used to fear situations that brought discomfort. I think it's human nature for many of us to naturally shy away from the unknown, for it can bring some scary stuff. But as I was traveling, I never felt stronger than when I missed my transportation into a new country, and had to come up with a new game plan on the spot. Or when I left my laptop and camera on a bus as it pulled away from me at a bus stop in Galway, and I had to chase it by taxi halfway across the city, not knowing if I'd ever see those devices again. I learned that my reaction to a situation can completely change the situation itself. Maybe if I had broken down and given up I wouldn't have been able to find a bus driver who knew what bus my items had been left on. Or maybe if I took 5 minutes longer to figure out a plan, I would have missed the bus stopping at its next destination. Our reactions are what enable us to perceive situations in different ways, so I've learned that staying calm and seeing the bigger picture makes you pretty invincible when plans go astray, and that helps to make the whole idea of the unknown manageable, and even fun :)

This brings me into my next lesson that I really came to understand. I can best illustrate this idea through the brilliant J.K. Rowling's quote where she states, "It's our choices which show who we truly are, far more than our abilities." In every up and every down, I had the ability to react in 100 different ways. Every choice I made in each situation, however, dictated how I felt about myself along the journey. My choices were really what I attribute my growth to, because our choices are what carry with us throughout life, and are the building blocks for our characters. The more situations we overcome, that we once thought we couldn't, act like little coins being added to our capability box; where our choices remind us how strong we are, how brave we are, or how big our hearts can be really be. Let's be honest here, the world can get tough, like really tough sometimes, but our own inner sense of self is really our greatest asset to get us through those times of trial. And the more coins we have added to that bank, the stronger and more capable we will feel in any given situation.

One of the last most important lessons I came across while on the road, was the importance of human connections. Embarking on this solo journey, I had done a lot of mental preparation to essentially be totally self sufficient. The first month I felt very okay with the whole solo gig, because in this solitude I really did come to understand myself in a much deeper way. But after the first month, my desire for deeper connections with people really heightened from the contrast of such solo journeying. Luckily, hostels were a great way for me to feel that sense of connection again, but being in the hostels with other travelers was like a breathe of fresh air, and it was only then that I realized how much more I thrive when I can be my most authentic self around other like minded individuals. There's a certain magic and flow that happens when you are truly living your passion and dreams amongst other individuals doing the same. The world becomes a sort of haven where your love for life, along with theirs, combines into this experience of pure bliss and exuberance. We may not always feel deep senses of connections with those around us, and that may make us feel as though we need to retreat inwards. But from my experience, aligning with our own sense of self gives us a better understanding of who we would also want to align with in terms of other humans, and when those connections are made, the beauty is boundless.

We are always going to have fears and uncertainties that we hold inside. It's just a part of life as humans on earth. However, my greatest takeaway from these last 6 months has been to look at those fears, and accept them as part of ourselves. Instead of running away, or hiding from what we are afraid of doing most, I think great things can come when we look at those parts of ourselves, and accept them as old friends. Because when we make peace with that unknown, or those scary thoughts that will try to hold us back, we empower ourselves. And facing fears and gaining strength from those hurdles, to me, is one of the greatest lessons we can get out of this life. So don't' be afraid to take that leap, because truly, amazing things will come from it.

Lots of love :)
Lauren