There were two common responses when I first told people that I was going to start traveling full time: “You’re so brave!” and “Oh my goodness, I want to do that too!” I’m not the greatest at spoken words, so here are my thought-through replies to those ideas.
- You’re so brave!
I never once considered myself brave for leaving the country to explore the rest of the world. A little foolhardy, perhaps, but brave? “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela, in case you didn’t know. I’ve gotten rather quotey lately…
I was never afraid to leave America (I can’t really say “leave home,” because for the last five years, home has been wherever I am sleeping tonight), nor to enter other countries, explore by myself, or live with new people. If I was never afraid, then how can I be brave? In fact, I was never quite sure exactly what people meant, or what people mean now, when they call me brave. Brave because the world is a scary, dangerous place where death looms around every corner? Both Orlando and Dallas, the last two places in America where I lived, have recently had horrendous acts of violence occur within them. Explain to me why I am safer there than the highlands of Scotland. Brave because I am traveling alone and might therefore become lonely? Loneliness and I are good friends. Brave because I could get lost in a new city or fall off a cliff ledge or have to converse with someone who speaks another language? Those don’t seem like things worth worrying about, nor are they situations restricted to a traveler’s life.
The only thing that I think could possibly be labeled as “brave” is heading off with a rather small amount of money and no foreseeable wages in my future. But that’s where I would utilize the term “foolhardy” again. Hey, if you’re never foolhardy, you’ll never see the world, am I right?
So to all those who thought or think that I’m being brave, thank you, but I respectfully disagree. There are a lot of people out there being brave. There are several times in my life when I have needed to be brave. Right now, I’m just being adventurous.
- Oh my goodness, I want to do that too!
Then do it. I could not be more serious, please, I am begging you, do it. Come up with whatever excuses you have that are holding you back and tell me, and I will personally shoot them down for you. There is so much to be gained by seeing the world, by getting to know different cultures, by realizing how small you are and how big the world is, by traveling alone and realizing you are good company for yourself, by being surrounded by another language and feeling like an idiot, by seeing the similarities to yourself in someone thousands of miles away from your home, by getting out of your own ruts and comfort zones and routines and adapting to a new society. Whether you pack up your life and buy a one-way ticket or finally take that week-long vacation, do it.
If you really want to travel, then you have to make it a priority in your life. There’s plenty of other stuff I would have loved to spend money on – I’ve already bemoaned the crazy number of interests I have. I could have paid for college and gotten another degree or flight school and gotten my license or stunt workshops and become a performer. But when I compared it all, traveling was more important. If traveling is more important for you too, then make it a priority. Find a way. Because you will never regret it.
I heard a sort of negative comment recently, a derisive tone talking about how Millennials are all out traveling the globe like it’s their right to do so. I don’t understand how anyone could think it is a negative thing for young people to be stepping beyond the borders of their home country and seeing how the rest of the world lives first hand. Especially with the amount of hate in the world today. Frankly, I think travel should be somehow required in high school or at least in college. Reading about another country in a textbook will never compare to walking down its streets, hearing the language all around you, getting to know its people. It will change the way you think, the way you treat others, the way you live.
So if you want to do this too, then do it too. There’s nothing special about me that allowed me to set off to Europe. I don’t have a trust fund or a successful online business or someone paying my way. Heck, I’m still paying off school loans (partially from my very first trip abroad to study in Italy – another thing I thought I would never be able to do and did anyway). There’s always a way. Maybe for now, you have to wait and save and plan a bit. Maybe your first trips will have to be smaller or shorter or closer ones. Maybe it will require you to leave behind someone or something you love. But if you want to travel, and you make the pursuit of travel a priority in your life, then you will travel. Don’t just envy someone else’s adventures. Lord, please don’t envy my adventures. Use them as inspiration to propel you towards your own.