So, here we are. I mean, here I am. Sat in my room drinking coffee from my huge cup that says I love Canada. Simply because I do. And because I like coffee, too. Ok, I like big, goofy cups as well. But that’s not the point here. Point is-HERE I am. I just got back from amazing road-trip around Alberta, Canada. And I am about to stick my toes into desert sand for the third time this year. Life is good right now.
Let’s rewind to few years back. I was a typical 20-something-year old that was doing everything she was expected to do with her life. Get good grades in high school, go to Uni, get a part-time job to be able to survive your student days, find a good looking man to have by your side. Check, check, check and… Oh, unfortunately-check. But what seemed to be a good girl, was actually a person that was trying to hide the terror that would come out on lonely nights, after hours of studying; Shit, I don’t want any of this!
Yes, I wanted education, but no babies, no mortgage, no cubicle life. No, no, no. Not for me. Not in my twenties. So, what did I want? I wanted to stop feeling trapped. I wanted to see the world. New places and new faces. And even though it didn’t strike me at once, I wanted to completely give up on routine and boredom. I wanted new, exciting stuff over and over again. I wanted to LIVE.
And so I did. Little country girl packed her suitcase, sold few things and set off. Without even telling anyone. Never have I ever dreamed to drink champagne on top of the Eiffel tower, lose my breath over the view from Burj-Khalifa (yes, I discovered I have love for heights), party in Ibiza or get wet in London rain. But, hey, I did. And it changed me in a way no good looking man or a promotion from one cubicle to another could.
1. THE HARDEST THING IS TO START. NOW I KNOW I AM ABLE TO START ANYTHING I WANT.
As you have probably realised (if you are still reading this), I was at the same time happy and miserable in my comfort zone. The thing with the comfort zone is that it brings certain… Well, comfort. But, I have also learned it is a very, very dark and dangerous place. So, if you truely are happy with being in that zone, that is ok. But if you are like I was, find the courage to change your position and go. Once you have things going… The rest will follow. Sometimes it is better, sometimes not so great. But, hey.
2. TRAVELING MADE A PROBLEM SOLVER OUT OF ME
I am the worst when it comes to patience and planning. And I was told this multiple times in my life. But much more when I was living a routine. Every single time problem would occur, I would start panicking, imagine worse scenarios before anything bad even happened. I was able to see the whoooole world collapsing just because my boss thought I came grumpy in work that day. I could see me losing my job, therefor dropping out from Uni, therefor being homeless… Just because. Pfffft. Once you miss a plane or get stuck in the middle of the night in a train station where no-one speaks English, if you want to get home, you are forced to take a breather, have a chat with yourself and figure out what the hell are you gonna do now. Sit on the floor and start crying never seemed much of an option to me. I swear my brains works quicker now.
Also, for the first time in my life I can say I stopped procrastinating and as soon as I figure out what I want to do next, I start planning, researching. I would even dare to say I am somewhat organised. And that is HUGE for me.
3. MY SELF-CONFIDENCE IS TEN TIMES BIGGER THAN IT WAS BEFORE
Number three obviously comes out of number two. But I wanted to say it separately. Simply because my lack of self-confidence deprived me from many beautiful situations and people in the past. And that is just… Sad. Once I have solved the problem successfully on my own, I felt content. Second time it happened, I felt empowered. Little by little I have learned to rely on myself and be brave about me and my life. And this was a life changing thing for me. This Ana and that Ana before have very little in common. And as you can guess, this new Ana is much more happy about herself. I strongly believe that people who have faith in their self go much further in life than the others.
4. I HAVE LEARNED AND I HAVE GROWN
This is a very obvious thing, you’ll say. And you will be right. Now I know the capitals and currencies I didn’t know before. I know official languages and even political situations of certain countries. Trust me, I have read a whole bunch of this somewhere in text books before (as I am a book worm) but I forgot. However, once you pay with euro in Ireland you will learn they don’t have pounds there (silly me), or you have a funny guy from Lebanon telling you why he strongly believes in certain political party-this stays in your mind forever. What you learn by living through a situation is long lasting. So now and for the rest of my life I will know that Alberta is rich with oil and you can hear Serbain turbo-folk music in any country in Europe you go to. Also, as long as I breath I will be listening to country and hoping Brantley Gilbert realises I am the woman for him. A year ago I had no clue who he is.
5. I LOST MANY OF MY PREJUDICE
…and learned that’s what they are-prejudice. Like every good girl from a small town that does stuff she is expected and learns about life from people who have “everything figured out” or American Tv-series and movies, I had quite a few prejudice. I also consider this as a part of my personal growth. Being able to meet new people with an open mind and open heart brings so much joy, new stories, and new friendships. And I enjoy being considered as a liberal person and a good friend.
Realising English people actually have good sense of humor and Middle Easterns appreciate women and they expect them to cover themselves simply because they don’t want them to be seen as a piece of meat made me be like : Whooops. My bad.
Also, I don’t have any more prejudice about lentil soup. Nom nom nom.
6. EXPERIENCES > THINGS
I don’t think there is a single traveller out there that will disagree with me on this one. I guess that is the whole point.
Back in the day, I couldn’t wait for my pay check to come so I could do a little bit of shopping. It was an addiction of mine. But I was buying stuff because my heart was empty. Sure, I still enjoy a nice bag (Oh, Michael Kors, I love you so dearly) or a new outfit, but nowadays my heart jumps for joy when I pet a wild horse or watch an amazing sunset. Coffee is a big bonus, of course.
Also, I am learning to enjoy a moment instead of taking millions of pictures. It is a slow process.
7. WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME IS THEIR PROBLEM.
This has become a certain “credo” of mine. If you are like me, you will always feel better about yourself when other people think nice of you. And indeed, that is very natural. No man’s an island and so on. I like to be accepted, not gonna lie. But before, I would worry and over think and (my goodness) I would get upset over other people’s comments very much. Even when those people were almost strangers and didn’t matter much. Or even worse, when I did not like them to beggin with. Ana, you sucker.
Well, my dear ones, this habbit is an energy drainer and another big no-no in your life. It will never ever bring you anything good. Thank God, in the past few years I have came to understand that the only opionion I really, truely care about is-mine. Other people don’t live/share my dreams and hopes (apart from few friends, of course), and they most certainly don’t work for them. It is me and my reflection in the mirror day after day. I am the CEO of my life and understanding this cleared out a lot of bad energy from my life. Energy I can put into something usefull. Even if it is thinking of how to pay for my flight just to go and hug an elephant. God, I love elephants.
8. I STOPPED BEING ONE-DIMENSIONAL
When you accept odd jobs, spend more time in airports than in your parents house, or you do or see things you’ve never experienced before, it irretrievably (is this the right word?) changes you. It awakes your creative side (wait, did I just start a travel blog?) and helps you to see the good sides of new situations. In a way, I guess it makes problems into challenges. Sure, I am not saying I see rainbows and unicorns everywhere I go (that’d be nice, especially if they’d bring me coffee) but once your mind is opened and your heart is full of new experiences, you get the urge to do things you never thought you will. Go horseback riding. Go to the biggest rollercoasters in theme parks. Or go to theme parks at all (case of a movement sickness, yes).
For me, as a person that wants to have a good future, but never (again) wants to lead a boring life, I am hoping to open a business of my own someday. If I didn’t travel, I am sure I would never have ideas I have now. Seeing how people manage their work and life in other places shows you anything is possible and all you need is a good idea, little bit of passion and you are good to go. Even if it is something you never thought you will do.
I am about to learn how to use Photo-shop. Pray for me.
9. I HAVE NEW AMAZING FRIENDS WITH COMMON INTERESTS AND SIMILAR LIFE STYLES
I was always blessed with good friends. People who would help me when I needed them most. Even if it was just by buying me a burger and listening to my whining. Patient people. Very patient. However, majority of them choose a more conventional way of life (and I am happy when they are happy). This doesn’t mean I think their choices are wrong or that we are not friends anymore. It just means I still have friends from back then and I also have new friends now. People who travel. Amazing story tellers who just make my bucket list longer and my dreams bigger.
Also, I have met many amazing, warm and kind people in countires I have travelled to and they have a very special place in my heart. These are people who showed me around, helped me out with advices to save my pennies while buying stuff or just going from one place to the other.
I think it is safe to say travelling changed me for better. Every single day I smile at myself and congratulate myself for things I have seen and experience. They make me keep going. And they shaped me to a person I am right now. And I quite enjoy the new me.