Make sure you still go with an open mind and not just open eyes. Make sure it’s about gaining a worldly perspective, confidence, and, of course, memories. Find beauty in the experience.
“It’s a whole other world out here,” is the thought that kept coming up during my visit. My journey doesn’t always have to be about the cliche of “finding yourself.”
Let me just put it out there. I didn’t grow up in the Philippines. I was born and raised in North Carolina, United States. I’m pretty proud of where I grew up and how I was raised.
So I already know myself; who I am, where I grew up, and who my family and friends are.
The Philippines, although one of the most popular tourist attracting locations and BEAUTIFUL places to visit, is pretty much third world in many areas.
If anything, what I gained from this trip is a deeper meaning, literally, as deep as “the roots” where family isn’t all about blood and where traditions are valued no matter where you are.
I have a deeper understanding as to why my mom always had a million plants in the house, why she enforced cleanliness, and why I eat everything because I hate wasting food.
I’m not saying traveling isn’t about exploring new things, discovering differences and learning. It’s all these things and more.
It’s about BEAUTY in differences, acceptance, reinforcing family values and appreciating every day things we tend to take for granted: the sun, filtered water, air condition, a breath of fresh country air, the coolness of sea water beneath your fingertips, the hard work earned for the things you want, and the simple things in life.
Vacations in another country flings us away from what we know, giving us a key opportunity to get away from familiar places that define us (by our jobs, interests, etc). Traveling thrusts us out into a world where all the things that normally define us aren’t always present. It’s letting go some of the past to make room for the future.
Although this post is surrounded by my visit from the Philippines, I’ll be posting another blog post on my experience and sharing travel tips. This post is really geared towards getting out of your comfort zone, exploring your potential and not just places. This trip, from February 2017, was my first international trip by myself. Despite the fact that I was surrounded by family and getting to meet many people, I learned a lot about “just getting out there.” I learned that in order to explore and gain meaning I had to get out of my comfort zone a little. I also needed to get out of the Alaska winter. Five to six months of darkness and cold is not always fun for me. Actually, it’s recommended to get out of Alaska AT LEAST ONCE during the winters.
This is coming from a girl born into diversity, in the culture of southern dirt America with patriotic values in a world that is ever changing and developing. Then traveling to a world of tradition where time feels slower in every day living.
So don’t just find yourself. LOSE YOURSELF. I know it sounds scary. I’m not talking about losing touch with reality and rationale. I’m talking about losing the sense of self determined by social norms, losing ideas, and worries that hold you back and limit you from learning. Lose yourself in the moment (*cue Eminem song*), trying and thinking new things, meeting new people, connecting and re-connecting. It should be liberating!
A key to facing our fears and perhaps getting to know ourselves better, is knowing that there is a will and a way to reaching our potential. My favorite quote I like to share is:
“A ship in port is safe; but that’s not what ships are made for.”
So I needed to get out of the cold and be around the familiarity of beaches (although the beaches in North Carolina aren’t as blue and nice) and the food my mother cooked. I needed to break routine. What I didn’t realize is that my visit to the Philippines gave me a different perspective on living. An appreciation of the sun, loved ones back home, the roof on my head, and my job. An appreciation of culture and wonder, man and the world, and letting go of stress so I can be in the moment.
Traveling is just overall good for your mental well-being. You’re a happier person! I’m working on achieving the same happiness, over and over (aka planning my next trip). When was the last time you planned a trip? When is the next?