This trip has been something that I’ve been looking forward to for almost a full year now. It’s taken tons of time to do the research and save up enough money, and now I’m finally here. Well worth all of the hard work, and certainly not easy, there are a few lessons that I’ve taken away from this experience even during these first few months.
When I first started mapping out this trip, I thought that incorporating some travel with my parents would be a great way to ease into my first solo adventure. I consider myself very fortunate to already have extensive travel experience, but going at it alone for the first time is always a bit nerve-wracking.Throw in the fact that some places won’t speak English and I’ll stick out not just like a sore thumb, but a fully infected, blonde, solo-female thumb (India, I’m looking at you), and that’s enough to put anyone on edge. I also still haven’t booked a flight home, so it seemed like a nice idea to have one more big family trip together, minus Sam, who is thriving over in England. Sorry, sis.
Overall, it has been an amazing adventure with unforgettable memories, along with a few other advantages *cough* saving money on accommodation *cough.* The three of us also haven’t killed one another yet, but I don’t want to speak too soon. Survived another continent, check it off the list. Five down and two more to go!
As you can probably guess, there were also a handful (maybe multiple handfuls) of bumps along the way. Having lived on my own at college for the last four years, being in extremely confined places with my parents certainly faced me with a few breaking points. I was used to doing my own thing at any time, having plenty of space to sprawl out, and quiet time to collect my thoughts.
Once or twice I seriously debated just hopping on a bus and only sending them postcard updates.
So maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but hey, it makes for good reading. Yes, there were ups and downs, but I also took this as an opportunity to find the good in a situation that had potential to turn my hair grey 30 years too early. Instead, I decided to focus on three qualities about myself that would change the way I perceive the world around me. Our perspective gives us the opportunity to learn and grow instead of just feeling angry or annoyed, and I decided to turn my frustrations into opportunities.
Lesson 1: Mindfulness
This is something I’ve been working on for a while now. Starting sophomore year of college, I really got into mindful meditation and even led a few sessions on campus. There are an infinite number of mental and physical benefits, but I think that overall it is so important for everyone to be mindful: of what we are saying, how we act, those around us. The list goes on.
Practicing mindfulness helps me to be more aware of the present moment and everything that is going on around me. Everything we do is like a ripple in water, it doesn’t just affect us. How we behave will have an effect on someone else, which can in turn trigger how they behave, and so the cycle continues. We are all apart of a collective environment and should be aware of that, as well as aware of ourselves.
On this trip I’ve been trying to practice more mindfulness. Am I really present in this moment? Am I aware of what I’m saying and how I’m behaving? How will this impact others? Can you sit with what you are feeling, without judgement?
Of course, a lot of this is easier said than done. By no means is everyday perfect, but every moment that I remember to be mindful is a step in the right direction, and taking that first step is the only way you can begin.
Lesson 2: Patience
This value kind of goes hand in hand for me with mindfulness. To be completely honest, I have a very short temper when it comes to my parents. Maybe it’s the confined space, maybe it’s a part of my rebellious teenage self that still hasn’t moved on, but there are times when dealing with them is much more than I can handle. (I still love you guys though!!!)
In these moments, I’ve been trying to practice having more patience. Listen more before speaking, trying to really see their perspective, and giving each other space when necessary.
Everyone’s minds work a little bit differently, and everyone has different needs, and I have to remember that.
Lesson 3: Kindness
This one is really big for me because overall I think we need more kindness in the world. The Kiwis taught me that a smile and some genuine conversation can really go a long way, and I think more of that same kindness can make a huge difference in so many of our lives. It doesn’t always need to be a big change, even just smiling at someone or holding a door can be enough.
When we’re kind to someone else, it doesn’t just make them feel better, it makes us feel better, too. Knowing that we are doing something good for someone else is a good feeling! Especially in American society, I’ve realized that it’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘me’ factor. What are my plans after college? Where is my career going to take me? What am I doing next? Hell, we even wonder what our next Instagram post should be, me included.
I think that taking a step back from this mentality and looking to find kindness in ourselves and others is one small change that can have a huge impact.
I’m sure there will be many more lessons as I continue on this adventure, but thought it would be a good idea to start sharing them now. We can all learn a little bit more about ourselves everyday, me included.