Just the other day, I realized that it’s been over a year since I left on my first extended travel experience. It was November 2013 when I flew out of Minneapolis and started my journey in Quito, Ecuador. From there, I experienced 4 incredible months of travel followed by 10 more months of personal exploration, re-adapting to Minneapolis, and adjusting my life to new wants and new needs. So, below is a slight recap that looks forward with hope and excitement.
The Big Slowdown
I can’t run around anymore. For many years, I would drive everywhere and try to fit too many things into my life with the hope that I could experience it all. I’ve given up on that and have become very particular about what events I attend. I’ve found that I push back more on events when I’m not feeling even 80% excited about them. I’ve also thrown out my schedules to some extent. I don’t try that hard to be anywhere at a specific time anymore. I’ve also come to hate traffic, especially close to rush hours, and have chucked driving for riding the Green Line Transit into work. Sure, it’s an hour total to get to work and another hour to get home, but I can read during that time. I’ve found I’m much less stressed and in a better mood on those days. Now, if only the Afro Deli wasn’t on my way back to my apartment…..
It is partially a product of my uncertainty of where my future endeavors may lie, but I’m extremely conservative and deliberate in anything new that I acquire now. I continue to sleep on a small $70 IKEA mattress in my apartment. I have my table and chairs from before I left, but no couch. I’m not entirely happy with the return to apartment-living, but being that I’m uncertain about where I’ll be in the near future, it’s acceptable for the time being. I also go out for drinks or dinner less than before and when I do, I often stay in my neighborhood where I can easily walk to my destination.
There’s no turning back. Since I’ve made this commitment towards traveling, I’m experiencing an even stronger pull to get out there again and see the world. I’m prompted to head back to South America to see the countries that I missed such as Columbia, Bolivia, and Brazil. However, I also have a strong pull towards heading east and visiting Iceland, Greenland, Europe, etc. I’m currently targeting summer or fall of 2015. And yet…..
…. there’s a major nagging sensation that I need to figure out my own personal happiness and growth in this world. I love travel and respect all the people I’ve read that have made traveling a permanent lifestyle choice. However, I’m feeling the need to contribute more and to get involved more in the causes that matter to me the most. And while I recognize that the two options (traveling vs. work / professional growth) are not necessarily mutually exclusive, I’ve found that I need to put focus towards that aspect of my life. It’s very foggy at this point. I may have to figure out a way to include more growth experiences or entrepreneurial activities within my travels or potentially spend an extended period of time somewhere working to create something of value. I realize now that expecting to fall into something through wandering the world is unrealistic for me. I need to start trying some things out and seeing what sticks. I’ve recently signed up for some cooking classes to expand my knowledge in something that I love. I’m also continuing to look for volunteer opportunities with organizations I care about to provide me with experience in different areas of service. I’m starting to recognize my desire to create my own work rather than contribute to someone else’s.
If there’s one concept that I’m trying to embrace fully, it is that I need to let go of bad feelings, judgments, assumptions, jealousy, insecurity for myself or towards other people. I want to move forward with more acceptance and less stress in my life. I’m also much better at embracing the uncomfortable experiences and uncertain times that present themselves. It truly has been a year of discomfort on many levels, but I think I’ve adjusted quite well to the life that is awaiting me.
Yeah, we all make them and often times break them, but t’is the season, and I’ve always been one to set some goals for the future (even if they’re really small so that I’m sure to achieve them). I want to write more. I want to create more and put it out there for other people to experience. This can include cooking, music, writing, software. If I can be less timid in my approach to life, I think I may open up some new and incredible doors for myself this coming year. I also want to work more towards my own personal calmness and tranquility. I’ve always thought passion is a wonderful thing to have, but I want, for myself, to be more calm when challenges present themselves. And maybe even a bit more excited to take those challenges on.
It’s a new year (in 7 days) and the sky is the limit.