So many people are confined to the imaginary boxes society has created for them, and as a result are stuck in the hamster wheel of life. I was determined to break that wheel and live my life on my terms.
It all started with entertaining the terrifying thought of getting on an airplane all by myself to a foreign destination.
One entire year, two trips, and four countries later, I have evolved into the greatest version of myself I never imagined possible and experienced some of the greatest moments of my life.
In June 2016, I told everyone around me that I was going to Scandinavia by myself in September so I wouldn’t chicken out and not go. 14th September rolled around, and as the sun rose my dad drove me to the airport. I’ll be completely honest – I was overwhelmingly anxious and terrified at the same time and sobbed my way through airport security after hugging my dad goodbye for the next 4 weeks. I still have the crumpled boarding pass as a physical representation of the mess I was.
Nothing could ever prepare me for the wonderful journey ahead. I spent exactly one month exploring Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. Travel gives you the opportunity to unlock and discover a whole new part of yourself you never knew existed. I rode buses and trains and met new people. My most memorable interaction took place in a hostel in Reykjavik, which lead to an incredible road trip along south Iceland with the friendliest Canadian named Mary.
When I returned home, I was hooked on travel. I craved new cities and paths less traveled. Wanderlust had found a home in my soul. It wasn't long before I booked my next trip back to those 3 countries and added Switzerland into the mix this time.
My second 3 week trip taught me that even when everything you had planned goes wrong, there is always a way to find the bright side. On the only day I had to hike Trolltunga it was pouring with rain, I forgot my dry socks on my hostel bed and had to cross an overflowing river resulting in wet shoes.
I slipped a few times in the snow, discovered my rain jacket wasn’t so waterproof anymore, and my legs ached like never before – but I persisted, and was rewarded with stunning views and a feeling of great personal fulfillment. I like to say that this is where my trip snowballed into an avalanche of misfortune.
I missed the bus back to Voss where I had planned to take the train back to Oslo and had to pay an exorbitant price to take an 8 hour coach bus instead, to catch my Oslo to Copenhagen to Zurich flight that night. I almost got lost in Copenhagen’s train system at midnight, had 2 Friday nights in downtown hostels (yay time zones!), I couldn’t do the hikes I had planned in Switzerland because the airline lost my luggage with ALL of my hiking gear inside, and I couldn’t do the hike I returned to Iceland for.
I went to H&M in Zurich to buy some much needed clean undies and found a single lonely t-shirt on the sale rack embroidered with “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” There is no way I couldn’t buy that shirt, it was just too coincidental.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I took it as an opportunity to relax, discover little coffee shops, people watch, and explore places I hadn’t planned on exploring and it was actually pretty great.
I have learned to look impossible situations in the eye and say, "It's possible. I can do anything I put my mind to."
Little thoughts or mottos can get you through times of doubt and encourage you to follow your dreams whether they are travel related or not. Expect the unexpected. I can. I will. Self doubt has no home in my mind anymore. I can fix it. I did. Empowerment is one of the greatest feelings I have gained through traveling, and I push myself everyday to break the boundaries of society and the mind.
Without these experiences and lessons from travel, I would definitely not be the person I am today. Travel has helped me conquer my anxiety one step at a time, it has instilled in me a love for exploration, hope in humanity, and opened my eyes and my mind to different cultures, stories, places, and what it means to be a human in this world. Life is too short to be running endlessly in hamster wheel circles, and the world is far too big to not see at least a little bit of it.
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