I like to think of all new experiences in life as adventures. New adventures take risk and courage. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s driving to a new place, accepting and invitation, traveling to an unknown destination or taking a class and learning something new. These experiences help us to feel expansive and alive even when it can feel scary.
In November of 2015 I took a chance and traveled to Europe for the first time, alone. I knew that if I could just make it to my destination that everything would be good. It was a test of courage. In my early twenties I dreamt of traveling abroad, looking at art, architecture and exposing myself to different cultures and places. I can remember sitting on my bedroom floor in junior college immersed in the colorful imagery of National Geographic magazines and Art History textbooks.
Someone once told me that traveling abroad changes a person. International travel opens you up and provides you with experience(s) that you may not otherwise encounter. I’d seen friends and family members go abroad and come back with stories and experiences of their adventures. I wanted to go too and wondered if I’d ever get to go. Would I come back changed? What experiences would I have?
I always envisioned myself traveling to Europe with a buddy, never alone. With as much excitement of wanting to go, I was also terrified. When faced with a new experience that is out of my comfort zone, I worry, I over think, I stress, and I tend to over plan. Up to this point, I’d maybe traveled alone on a plane, twice. Flights ranging from 2 – 5 hours here and there but never 10 plus hours with transfers, different airports, and other languages. How was I going to do this?
It was apparent to me that this trip was going to take courage. In the prepping and planning for this trip I kept telling myself that it was going to be easy. Looking back now, I am grateful that JJ helped me to envision what traveling would be like, what the airports would look like and some of the experiences that I may encounter. I also asked family members who had just returned home from a trip to Spain who graciously answered a lot of my questions. Still, I found myself wondering how this was all going to work out and tried to plan every little detail.
Soon the day came for me to leave. All those months of prepping and planning had come down to this moment. Off I went on this adventure abroad. A bit anxious, on high alert, and very excited. From the minute I stepped on to the airport bus to the moment I set foot in Spain the entirety of the experience was easy and effortless despite the moments of self doubt, fear, and couple missteps.
Even through the missteps I learned to trust that this experience was unfolding just as it should in ways that would help me grow. Once in Spain, I had a fabulous time with JJ exploring this new place. With a little bit of a push JJ gave me the opportunity to go exploring by myself around town. I decided to look at each new experience as an adventure.
Did I come back changed? Yes. I learned so much about myself in the process. I feel stronger with increased confidence. Traveling helped me to understand that adopting a go with the flow outlook is more beneficial for me then a detailed plan. Be open to change. New experiences can be a bit unsettling at first, having the courage to say yes and trusting in the process will lead to the “how’s” solving themselves. Maybe choosing to say “yes” is the first step to all adventures.
In the end, I am so happy to have traveled. I am so excited to be going back soon to Spain for the summer. Here’s to new experiences and many more new adventures to come.