When I was seven years old, I knew two things about this world with absolute certainty.
First, that there was no greater toy than a cash register packed full of monopoly money. And second, that no matter how ambitious my dreams were, nothing would stop me from achieving them. To a child, becoming a princess, astronaut or any other bizarre and unlikely profession, was all just a matter of want. There was no fear involved, just an all encompassing desire to fulfil your passions, without really knowing why you wanted to pursue them.
Growing up though, it’s easy to lose sight of your biggest dreams. We morph from fearless little humans, into adults with responsibilities and fears and other scary nouns.
All of a sudden, we’re told that no, we can’t have what we want just because we wished for it. Or that some things in life aren’t possible. It’s the modern world’s way of preparing us for crushing failure, but as a result it sucks the pleasure out of wanting something hard to reach.
It shouldn’t be like this.
The world is often a terrifying place, full of unknown fears and uncertain consequences.
But it’s also intricate, wild and beautiful. A place begging you to explore its land and seas, its skies and rugged terrain. Travelling took me away from my comfort zone, but brought me back to myself.
I’ve always loved to write. When I was young, it was basic poetry on my grandma’s notepad while snacking on tea and slice. In primary school, it was short stories on PowerPoint slides and by high school, my works were longer and more intricate. But contrary to the length of my pieces, my dreams and confidence had shrunk. It became a hobby, rather than a future career. Not because I didn’t want it as much, but because society told me that pursuing medicine, or teaching or any number of degrees requiring years of study were more realistic than my creative ambitions.
So I wrote less. I focused on grades and final school scores and let my creative energy linger stagnant until the compulsion to write was filed away in the deeper parts of my mind.
After graduating I thought I would jump back into my writing, but my passion and confidence had gone. I no longer wanted to submit my pieces and become an author, I just wanted to do something conventional with my life. I had told myself I would never make it in the industry for so long that my brain refused to let me write anything out of fear.
But I’m not one to give up. Although scared of lacking direction, I took control and planned a big trip with my best friend to Europe. I channelled my energy into booking and planning and before our plane even took off, I felt my spark coming back. Losing myself in foreign cities, without a map or ounce of ability to speak another language, taught me that the only thing I needed to be happy, was trust in myself. Travelling forces you to be outgoing, adventurous and brave. Without absolute faith in your own decision making abilities, backpacking can become an overwhelming experience.
If you’re not sure about a solo trip, or don’t have a travel partner, group tours are a fantastic way to see some unbelievable parts of the world in a short space of time. The thought of joining a group of strangers to explore unfamiliar places can be daunting at first, but within days or even hours, they’ll start to feel like family. I’ve always combined group tours with independent travel to get the best of both worlds. That is, the ability to choose a spot in the world and go there on my own terms, and the friendships you make in a tour environment.
Several weeks into my first big trip, I started writing again. While my best friend used her camera lens to capture her love for the planet, I channelled my passion into my words. Travel stories flew onto the page whenever I had a spare moment to jot them down and I realised that you don’t need unique imaginative fiction ideas to be a good writer.
All you need is passion.
Don’t let a fear of the unknown prevent you from achieving success. If you’re afraid of chasing after unlikely dreams like I was, stop worrying about why they won’t happen and start focusing on how they can. Travel is an incredible way to figure out what you want from life, because you’re in complete control of where you are and where to go next. You can carefully research places to see, or you can dive straight in blind. But whichever route you choose, I promise it’ll strengthen your confidence and identify more than anything else can.
The thought of taking off can be scary and for me, ironically, involved a lot of working behind a cash register. But the adventures waiting at the other end are so incredibly worth the investment.
Has travel helped you discover a talent you never knew you had, or unlocked your creativity in some way? Share you stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…