I recently turned 24, and came back to the USA after living in Thailand for a year. It has certainly been a time of reflection. Most of my friends are getting full-time jobs and some have even gotten married. And here I am- preparing to move abroad for the second time. I feel like I have hit a quarter-life crisis of sorts- where I am still not entirely sure what I want, but know that it’s not my time to settle down yet.
Travel lends itself to thought- you have endless amounts of time staring out of the window while on buses and planes. Some of these things I have learned, but am still working on. Some, I’m sure I will never fully master. But I’m learning and growing, and thankfully I realize that’s really the best anyone can do.
1. Don’t listen to the people who tell you it’s not possible. Listen to that small, inner voice that says “I can.”
2. Be kind. Don’t make someone else feel small to make yourself feel better. In the end, this hurts you far more then the other person.
3. Don’t take rejection personally. I used to get really upset over the smallest things- like when I didn’t hear back right away from a job or received some sort of criticism. I would play it back over and over again in my head. While I still do this sometimes, I’ve learned that it is important to just let things go.
4. Be generous when you are traveling. Don’t let seeing poverty harden you and make you jaded. Give back to the places that you travel.
5. Carry this same mentality home with you. Understand that other people might not have received the opportunities that you have. Don’t let the world steal your compassion.
6. Be present in the moment. This is something I work on to this day. I try to carry that feeling that I experience in yoga class of being fully aware and invested in to my day-to-day life. There is nothing worse than constantly being stuck in the future or the past.
7. Put yourself out there. Don’t stay at home because you are afraid things might be awkward, or you won’t know anyone at a party. Just go.
8. Read. Reading makes you a better person. Read things you enjoy. Read guilty pleasure books. Read things that will inspire you. Read the news. Read other people’s blogs. Just read.
9. Do not defer your happiness to the future. Do what makes you happy now. It sounds cliché, but we truly never know when we will die. I don’t want to get to my death-bed and have a million regrets. I don’t want to think in “what if’s?”
10. It’s okay to want things, but don’t let desire consume you. It’s okay to want that new car, or that new outfit, but don’t by any means think the happiness in getting it will be anything but temporary. Happiness is a state of being.
11. Food is your medicine. I truly believe this. Cut out processed foods. Eat foods that are ‘alive’ and make you feel good.
12. On that same token, don’t hesitate to treat yourself every once in a while. Don’t become so obsessed with food that you don’t enjoy it anymore. When you are absolutely craving something, eat it.
13. Document your experiences. It is so much to fun to look back on old travel journal entries and photos. Just don’t forget to experience the moment.
14. Trust in the goodness of others. Put positive energy out there, and trust that it will be returned. Trust that things will be okay. It’s easy to become fearful from all the news reports and scare tactics the media uses. But the thing is, most people are actually good at heart.
15. Go somewhere new as often as you are able. Even if it’s just a weekend trip to see and old friend, or a road trip for a couple of hours. New places allow new perspectives.
16. Seek out people with different beliefs to yours. If you don’t agree with them, just listen. You’re not going to agree with everyone’s viewpoint and that is okay.
17. No one has it all figured out. Don’t let social media tell you any different. It’s easy to get jealous and think that everyone else is ‘doing it better.’ They’re not. We are all in the same boat, just trying to figure life out as we go.
18. Get outside. It’s easy to watch too much TV and repeatedly refresh your social media. Make it a point at least once a week to go hiking, go to the park or just go for a walk.
19. Try to learn another language. I have not yet mastered Spanish, but it’s certainly on my bucket list. When you go to new places, try to learn at least a few phrases in the local language.
20. Wear sunscreen. I can already see sunspots on my neck from lying out on that beach in Thailand. I wish someone had told me this a couple of years ago (Oh wait…they did.)
21. The world is the best education you can get. Take advantage of it. Learn about the places you are going and soak it in. Let other people inspire you and let experiences change you.
22. Travel isn’t always easy. Travel is not the spread of a magazine cover. Accept that you will sometimes be miserable. It won’t seem nearly as bad when you look back on it, trust me.
23. The travel bug doesn’t magically disappear. The more you travel, the more you want to travel. It’s an endless, exhausting, glorious cycle.
24. Don’t let fear hold you back. Letting fear of the unknown dictate your choices is a terrible mistake.
Leap and the net will appear.