|Oxford, just after I arrived in 2009.|
Today, looking back, it's hard to even remember the feeling of terror that pervaded me that day. I was such a different person back then, filled with hopes and desires of the young adult I'd like to become, but still falling short. I knew I had it in me to be adventurous, to be outgoing, to be courageous (read: kind of insane most of the time). How these years have changed me.
After hanging up the phone for the last time, hopeless that anyone back home would be able to help me, I made the decision that would come to define the years since: I'd have to buck up and figure it out on my own. And how that realization has come back again and again, whether it's been finding an unconventional job for after graduation, figuring out how to navigate complex organizations like Google, or landing in a new country for the first time without knowing anyone or how to speak the language. It's amazing the things we can do when we have no other options. The addiction has been putting myself in those situations and finding out that that maxim holds true every time.
Since that fateful day three years ago, my life has transformed monumentally: I've lived on 3 continents, traveled through 30+ countries, made some truly extraordinary friends in some of the strangest places, and learned more about myself and what I'm capable of than I ever dreamed before.
Some time ago, I read a study showing that people who had traveled demonstrated more out-of-the-box thinking. They were more creative, less held down by the restrictions of their small spheres of the world. If my personal experience has taught me anything, it's that I am far less bounded by the expectations and norms that society creates for me. One of my favorite cartoons from xkcd (currently hanging on my wall) talks about this problem: "The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have in uncountable... And no, I don't have all the answers. I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become." And alas, neither do I, but it's something I aspire to, and all the travel has been one hell of a start.