Chameleon - Preface
It’s been a full year since I left for my trip and I’m not quite sure at this point how I can accurately or fully recognize the amount of change I’ve experienced. So I’ll say this. I’m now stronger, more confident and surer of myself than ever before. And I credit travel to a whole lot of that growth.
I can feel it spilling out of me. This desire to think bigger. To believe in my own strength and capacity to challenge myself. To fail with courage and self-respect and to succeed with self-awareness and modesty.
I can hear it in my voice and in my words. When I express how I feel. When I receive criticism. When I respond to something or someone that has hurt me. When I tell someone what I need. When I describe what I want.
I can sense it in my movements. In the confidence I have in my body’s capabilities and the way that I choose to move through the world.
I’ve decided that in 2018, I want to think bigger. I no longer want to diminish my strengths or accomplishments because I’m afraid that it will make others uncomfortable. I want demonstrate how proud I am of who I’ve become, and to be able to articulate how I got here (with a lot of luck and privilege to start and then a lot of hard work, joy, energy, and dedication after).
This means thinking about how I want to promote myself and my values. That means dedicating myself to a lifestyle that is perhaps more economically uncertain, but that brings me so much joy and gives me so much energy.
I want to throw myself into love. To unequivocally commit to staying open to it. To nurturing it. To creating something bigger with it. I refuse to allow fear of being hurt by it – or guilt in finding it – to prevent me from feeling it fully and completely. I want my love to fundamentally alter my life by making it more expansive, more joyful, and more intense. I want to see what it’s like to melt into someone’s life and let someone melt into mine. I want to create something that is strong, celebratory, thoughtful, expansive and conscientious. I want to truly believe in it and then let time prove it.
I plan to allow myself to accept that I may think differently than many people about how to conduct that love. I trust myself. I trust that I know myself. I want to put these beliefs that I have developed over the years about what it means to be a good partner and what I need in a partnership, to use. I don’t want to avoid any of it, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable at first. Even if it continues to make me feel uncomfortable. I want to think about MORE possibilities, not less. I want to love the shit out of someone, just like I love the shit out of my friends and my family and my community and my life. I want it all, I don’t want to sacrifice anything.
Traveling changed me because it allowed me to think differently about how to live my life. It taught me how to be still in a place. How to be more comfortable in solitude. How to expand in different ways. How to be open to different experiences. How to avoid conforming to what I’m supposed to think about something. How to listen to myself and hold strong to my beliefs - even when someone I love thinks that they know what is best for me. I can take advice and guidance without adhering to it blindly. I am embracing the knowledge that I can use all of the perspective and guidance from loved ones to make a decision that is uniquely mine.
My experience traveling – the lessons I learned, the people I met, my feelings about the places I visited, are my own. I want to encourage everyone I meet to travel. I wish for everyone to experience the feeling of being impossibly free. It’s also true that traveling isn’t for everyone – so in the very least I would encourage you to take yourself on little adventures that challenge you, no matter what that means – trying a new restaurant, walking a different way to work, observing your same routine with the eyes of someone from another country, or another planet. Concentrate on reveling in the little, amazing things – the sound of rain hitting the window pane in your bedroom, the way that the light makes shapes on your desk, the laughter of your coworkers, or seeing a big old possum in the middle of a big old city.
I choose to approach my life with a sense of childlike wonder and joy. I am full-on evangelizing this approach. And I can encourage you to try it too, but I can’t tell you what you will learn. What you will learn will be so uniquely yours. But maybe you already knew that.
The following is a collection of short stories about my experience traveling from March 6 – July 10, 2017. I hope reading these gives you a tiny peek into what it was like for me to be on this adventure. I hope that they serve as proof of the joy that the challenge brought me. I hope that they make you feel things.