Questioning the Status Quo
I really needn’t describe the definition of ‘First World Problems’… but incase you’ve been living under a rock, it’s the unfavourable term for your problems that aren’t problems. But you could be forgiven for only knowing what you know, because how else are you to know any better? Travelling the world will open your eyes to many different standards of living around the globe and help you to understand/appreciate first hand how the rest of the world lives. Watching through a television screen or reading about it in the newspaper just doesn’t do it justice. Just Go…. and then you’ll see why.
Asking for Help
Prior to travelling the world solo and being forced to rely on no other person but myself, I was pretty stubborn. I liked to do things my own way and even if that meant walking 10 kilometres instead of finding out how to catch the subway, I was determined to do things ‘my way’. Over time I realised this is neither a good move tactically, nor is it a wise move for broadening my scope and understanding of living like locals. Over time, travel made me better at asking for help.
Being comfortable with any situation
Comfortably eating a meal whilst a stray dog sits at my feet with hopeful eyes? Sure. Lady boys of Thailand overtly placing their body parts in my face to catch my attention? Why not. Travel has a way of bringing you outside of your comfort zone and finding regularity in irregularity. What would seem absurd at home somehow feels completely normal abroad… because why question it? It’s not wrong, it’s just different.
If there’s one thing I think most of us can agree on, it’s the importance of food. Sure, we need it to live… but it also just tastes so damn good that it is sometimes hard to share without thinking to yourself “they better not take more than 49%”. However when you travel, it’s a different story. Sharing food becomes a tradition – a necessity even, to ensure you try more foods and discover what you do/don’t like. Before you know it you’re sharing food with a stranger or someone you just met 5 minutes ago… and it feels just fine.
How to sleep anywhere
More times than I would care to count I have lasted 40+ hours with no sleep whilst on the road. However before travel, I would struggle to function off a measly 4 hours after a Saturday night on the town. Travel pushes your boundaries in so many ways… and forces you to make do. Besides, it’s nothing a 10 hour bus journey can’t fix… right!?
Letting go of tangible things
Before travel I was fairly convinced (like most of us) that my ‘things’ were valuable. To me, they held value. I wouldn’t dare throw them away – because I had worked hard to earn them, so wouldn’t that be a waste? Somehow, somewhere along the way, I have learned to let go of tangible things. Because they’re just that – things. They don’t hold true value, experiences do.
Appreciating what I have
Because we’re opening up ourselves and our minds to other ways of life, we suddenly begin to realise just how good we have it back at home. Remember that time you complained about the weather? Remember when you once complained when your sibling turned on the taps resulting in a cold couple of seconds in the shower? All these truly ridiculous ‘problems’ soon become so trivial that you feel guilty just thinking of yourself in this light. You learn to appreciate what you have and take nothing for granted. Moreover, you begin thinking of ways you can help others by learning to give… not just your money, but your time, too.
How to talk to strangers
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve find myself talking to strangers – often in broken English or hand gestures. Waiting for a bus, train, plane or simply standing in line at the grocery store. I’ve met some of the most interesting people this way… and their stories stay with me everywhere I go.
How to spin a bad scenario into a good one
Of course nothing ever goes to plan when you’re on the road. Circumstances are beyond your control, trains are delayed, flights are cancelled… and so on and so forth. But what can you do? Being negative won’t result in a positive conclusion… so you learn to spin the bad into good. Besides, it could always be worse!
How to just be myself
Maybe its a byproduct of my youth or maybe its a personal struggle I dealt with in my turbulent teens… But whatever it was, it took me a long time to just be comfortable in my own skin. For years I thought that I was happy with myself… but I was still plastering on a face of make up or on an impossible quest to turn my body into something it wasn’t designed to be. Then I travelled by myself for a year. I quit the face full of makeup and quit caring about what was being written in the magazines (I could barely find any in English anyway), and soon realised the happiest version of myself was just to be myself. Oh the time and worries I would have saved figuring this out sooner!