Posts Tagged ‘Reflections’

Jealous Again

In the year or so I’ve been home, several people have asked me if I was able to ‘get traveling out of my system’ after spending such a long time on the road. You would think this would be the case after sleeping in hostels, wearing the same clothes, and living out of a back pack every day for almost a year. On the contrary, my trip had the opposite effect on me and has only intensified my desire to travel to foreign lands.

This past week, my coworker Max left Austin to go backpack around South America for 6+ months. When he told me he was leaving to do this, I was overcome with jealousy.  Although my job gives me the opportunity to travel internationally, there’s nothing like the sense of absolute freedom and adventure that long-term travel gives you.  I’ve realized that traveling for extended periods of time will never be off the table for me…it’s not really a matter of IF as much as WHEN I’ll set out on the next journey.

Until that day comes, I’ll have to live vicariously through Max and others like him.  You can follow Max’s adventures here: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/levity03/

Good luck buddy!  I hate, errr, I mean LOVE you.

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Almost my entire life, I’ve had this terrible habit of biting my lower lip.  Biting and/or picking at it on a daily basis until it ultimately bleeds (slightly disgusting, I know).  I’m not sure why I do this and even worse, don’t even realize I’m chewing on my lip until my sister, parents, or friends I’m talking with call me out on it.  I’ve had this painful habit for as long as I can remember and have never been able to remedy it…coating my lips in gloss, lipstick, thick-ass lip balm – nothing works.

Then something strange happened in September of 2009.  Kelly and I left for our round-the-world trip and a couple of months into our journey, she said to me, ‘Hey I noticed that you haven’t really been picking your lip much since we’ve been on the road’.  When I thought about it, I realized I had actually not done it AT ALL since the day we hopped on that first plane to Costa Rica.  A huge accomplishment for me, but not one I truly thought I’d maintain…we’re talking about breaking a life-long habit here.  I chalked it up to the excitement of new adventures but figured after a few more terrifying bus rides in third world countries, I’d be back to unconsciously bloodying my lip in no time.

Months went by and I never really thought about it.  As our trip came to an end, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t been biting my lip THE ENTIRE ELEVEN MONTHS we had been traveling.  Amazing!  I felt I had kicked this nasty habit for good…and without even really trying to!!  Yay me!

Unfortunately, this didn’t last.  Literally the day I set foot back in the US, I started knawing on my lip again, not even realizing I was doing it until I tasted the blood in my mouth.  As much as I tried to be conscious of what I was doing and control my actions, I’d always end up messing with my lip again.  I’ve been home a year now and I’m still picking at it, as if that fantastic year of progress never even happened.  WTF?

I had never really considered that jacking up my lip on a regular basis was a quirky way for me to deal with stress – after all, I did it during other periods of my life when I felt stress-free.  Or was I stressed and just didn’t know I was?  Is there something about the daily grind and living a socially acceptable, ‘normal’ lifestyle that makes me anxious on a level that I’m not even aware of – and this anxiety manifests itself by making me tear at my lip on a daily basis?  What was it about traveling in foreign countries for a year that seemed to cure me?

I have no fricken clue, but it’s definitely worth pondering on an uneventful Wednesday evening.

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We’re Back, Baby.

I know.  It’s been a long-ass time since we’ve posted in this blog.  According to this, I’m still in Jordan and Kelly’s somewhere in Eastern Europe.  The truth is that we’ve been back home in Texas for a year now…and I figured what better time than our 1-year anniversary to pick up where we left off?

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can.  Keeping a detailed travel blog turned out to be a crap ton of work, and although somewhat a result of laziness, Kelly and I really wanted to enjoy our last few months having fun on the road instead of camped out in front of my netbook all day.  And now, we’ve forgotten a lot of those little details we used to meticulously jot down in our notebooks…what hostel did we stay at?  What was that name of that awesome restaurant?  Where did we go after such-and-such city?  What did it all cost?  It’s all become kind of a blur and would be extremely difficult (and probably inaccurate) to try and recreate our stories a year later.

So instead, I’m starting fresh.  This will still be a blog about travel…turns out I scored a sweet job with international travel perks upon my return to the States and have/will continue to have plenty of travel adventures to write about.

For now, I’d like to share some of the big (and little) ways the trip has changed me and how it continues to affect my outlook on life in general…even one year later, I’m still realizing how it has altered my perception of the world and made me (what I feel to be) a better person.

So here you have it my friends…the top 5 (plus 1) life lessons I learned on our RTW journey:

1.   It’s pointless to get worked up over things that are out of your control.

Those of you that know me well know I get worked up quite often, usually over someone being late or when things don’t go according to plan.  I would waste a ridiculous amount of emotional/mental energy being pissed off and annoyed when things didn’t turn out how I envisioned them.  Although it does still bother me, I’ve learned to go with the flow a little more and remind myself that some things are out of my hands and I need to chill the fuck out.  Buses will be late, weather will suck, and tours will be cancelled.  So what?

(*Please note that this new outlook DOES NOT give my friends permission to continuously be late to/cancel our social engagements…you know who you are).

2.   Australians are EVERYWHERE

Seriously, there is no escaping them.  They will find you and drink you under the table.

3.   This one is extremely cliché, but it’s so true…don’t judge a book by its cover.

I can’t tell you how many people we met during our trip that I immediately judged based on our first conversation – whether it be because of their age (young = immature/naïve, old = dorky/weird), where they were from (canada = boring), what they wore (Ed Hardy = asshole) or what they looked like (attractive = shallow) – and ended up adoring them after spending a few days with them.  I would have missed out on a lot of great friendships if I hadn’t taken the time to get to know the person better.

4.   Life doesn’t always turn out like you thought it would

This kind of goes hand and hand with #1, but my life now is completely different from what I thought it would be after I got back.  I had always expected that upon my return to the States, I would marry my long-time boyfriend (THE ONE!), we would move out to the country, try and start some type of business together and I’d start thinking about popping out a couple of kids.  After all, I’d be 31 and it’s the ‘time’ for those sorts of things…and I really did WANT them, specifically with him.  After travelling for a year though, I had changed – a lot — and I no longer want the same things I wanted before.  So now I am single, have no immediate desire to marry and have children (or live in the country), and have found a job I absolutely love and plan to make a career of.  And I’m HAPPY.

I also thought the trip would ‘get travelling out of my system’, but really our trip had the opposite effect…it just intensified my desire to see more of the world. Long-term travel will never be off the table for me.

5.   Street food is the best food.

This is the case almost everywhere in the world.  I promise.  It’s not gross and you (probably) won’t get the shits from it. It’s fucking delicious so eat it already.

6.   Having a positive attitude changes EVERYTHING.

Again, those of you that know me well, know that I used to take pride in my cynicism…people called me pessimistic, but I considered myself a realist.  But after a year of travelling and meeting amazing people, seeing the incredible beauty the world has to offer, and truthfully – seeing the poverty and other shit conditions people live in everyday with a smile on their faces – I have no reason to be so bitter about life.  It’s a daily struggle for me, but just trying to think positively everyday has really made me a happier, healthier person.  LIFE IS GOOD…as long as you believe it is.

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