Alive. That is the only way I can describe how this past year has been. 12 different countries and 85 days spent traveling. That’s about once every 4.3 days so I am extremely proud of myself for actually pulling it off. Looking back at it, I’m surprised at how it all managed to come together because despite me trying to control and plan every move, things never go quite the way we intend them to.. And (I guess) that’s the beauty of it.
Sometimes you’re forced to take a different path and it turns out to be way better than the one you originally started out with. Sometimes you’re forced to take a different path and end up completely lost in the streets of Madrid with no wifi and you don’t remember the name of your hostel. But hey! You live and learn with every day, every month, and every year that passes by. We learn so much through our experiences that we almost wonder how we ever got through life not knowing what we know now.
(Rio de Janeiro, Brasil)
Reflecting back on it, one thing jumped out to me the most. As much as I thought my year was filled with changes, in reality, nothing changed. This past year has been the same as every other year and here’s why: I didn’t win the lottery, I didn’t meet a travel buddy who motivated me to go on all these adventures, and I still had 24 hours in a day. See? No difference. So what DID change? My mentality and my priorities. That’s it. This past year has been nothing short of extra-ordinary and it was all because I decided to make it that way.
You obviously know you’re in control of your own life but most of us just end up riding the wave anyways. We’ve been falsely instructed since birth that we have to go to school, finish college in four years, get our Masters and then a “normal” job to stick with until we’re old enough to retire. That might work for some people but if that’s not where your heart lies don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and do what makes you happy.
There’s no set schedule that we HAVE to follow and the fact we’re taught to believe there is hinders our confidence to actually pursue our dreams. Understanding that you have the power to change your life at any given moment is a very powerful thing. Don’t be discouraged to go after what makes you happy just because someone (who, let’s be real, probably wishes they were as courageous as you and could break free of their dull life) tells you to play it safe and choose a job you’ll be miserable in.
Don’t wait. The time will never be “just right”
There is no reason why you shouldn’t be pursuing your passions and why your bucket list should only have one or two things crossed off. I used to create bucket lists and write things like “go bike riding in Amsterdam” for the fun of it but I honestly thought those were unrealistic dreams. Like yeah haha maybe one day, that would be so cool. I thought about it as if it wasn’t within my reach and those were only things I could do if one day I had a lot of money leftover on the side that I could spend doing something as “luxurious” as that.. No, they’re not. You need to turn your dreams into visions and goals. They are things to work towards and accomplish today, not “tomorrow”.
(Eiffel Tower, Paris, France)
(A Belgium Waffle.. It's as good as they say!)
(Gondola Ride, Venice, Italy)
Break the illusion that you have all the time in the world because in reality, you don’t. Each phase of your life brings new challenges so take advantage of the fact you know what they are now because the future is unknown. What do I mean by that? I mean remember that while now you may be thinking it’s hard to balance work or school with traveling, five years down the road it’ll be a lot harder when your married and expecting a baby. I mean that while now you want to wait until your kids are teenagers and independent to take a trip, when you decide to do so you may have some health problems that get in the way of your time there. You never know what will be going on in your life in a couple of years and what obstacles you’ll be facing.
Bottom line: Act now. Don’t wait for the opportunity to present itself because no one will come up to you one day and say “Oh hey Paul. I heard you’ve always wanted to go to Paris so I bought you flight and hotel reservations for the 7th. Have fun!” You need to take control of your life and make that first step. If you don’t see any opportunities then create one. You can’t predict the future so take advantage of the moment while you still have it.