To quote Roy T. Bennett, “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
It’s true that in order to be a better person, one must always learn and grow.
Stagnation and stability aren’t meant for all and often, in order to grow, we need to step out from a scheduled life and experience what the world has in store for us. Life indeed became a lot more exciting and meaningful the day I chose not to stick to the routines and stepped out of my comfort zone.
I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy affair—but then, what good thing ever happened to mankind easily? I had my one-way ticket to Pondicherry, India, and I had no clue what I would do there, or where I would go next. All I knew was that I couldn’t drag myself to my nine-to-five corporate job anymore—I felt a desperate need for change, and I was sure that it was time to break free.
Traveling helped me to unplug from technology and connect more with people.
I’ve been an Instagram addict; I was always hooked to my phone. At one point, it seemed that life without my phone would be incomplete, but I later realized how wrong I was. As I started traveling to remote places, mostly in the Himalayan region of India and Bhutan, I figured out that disconnecting from technology can be nothing short of a boon! For days, I had no network on my phone and it sat silently in one corner of my rucksack, mostly forgotten.
My mind used to roam while in the wilderness, watching as the clouds crossed over the mighty mountains, often kissing the snow-clad peaks. It sometimes reminded me of my mother, the way she’d give me a morning kiss. I wrote letters to her, sitting in a village whose name she never knew, and later gave them to her. I used to sit for hours on the river banks, lost in thought, and would speak to shepherds who came with their cattle to graze on the fields. I bonded with little children, old grannies, farmers of the Himalayan villages, and trekkers who came from different parts of the world to climb up the trails.
As they say, “The best connections are found where there’s no network.”
Traveling taught me to focus less on things and more on experiences.
Living in a society that defines certain norms for us to follow, we are often scared to break the shackles, wondering, “What would others think if I do this?”
Having a nice house, a fancy car, the latest gadgets, and a good career are the things we are all supposed to focus on. And if we can’t make it big by a certain age, our capabilities are questioned. I, too, was running the race not knowing where it would actually take me. It was then, when I started traveling, that I realized how tangible things can be, and how to value experiences more than anything else.
The more I traveled, the more I saw the actual value in getting away from the worldly things, and how the benefits of experiences last infinitely longer than the impermanent joy of buying things. Now, after traveling to so many places, I know what colors would paint the sky at dawn, or how different sunsets can be at different corners of the world—and trust me, these experiences are too valuable to erase from the mind.
Traveling taught me to live in the moment.
One of the best gifts that traveling can give a person is the gift of being in the present. Sure, it might sound pretty easy, but living in the moment can be hard on a day-to-day basis when we’re stuck to a schedule and have deadlines hanging over our heads! Most of my life, I’ve wondered how I could live better than I have in the past. I’ve realized that amidst the chaos of everything, I missed out on living in the moment.
As I started traveling solo, I had more time for myself and no agenda to follow. More often than not, I chose to go with the flow rather than fixing an itinerary for myself. Eventually, I started becoming a calmer person, accepting things how they unfolded. I worried less about what to do the next day and enjoyed where I was at the moment. I realized that I’m lucky to wake up and breathe in a new land, and so wherever I went, I appreciated my existence more than anything else. I laughed with the locals, shared coffee with strangers, boarded the wrong buses, missed flights, lost my luggage on the way, and enjoyed all of it, knowing that those moments would never be back again.
Traveling taught me to be humble and grateful for all that I have.
Most of the time, we miss out on appreciating the little things and forget to be grateful. We are never really satisfied with what we have, and we keep seeking more. We forget to thank the almighty for the family we have, and never thank our family for the support they give. We forget to thank our friends for being kind to us and often take them for granted.
When I traveled to Nepal to volunteer at an orphanage, I realized that not all are as lucky as me. For the first couple of days, I kept thinking about all those people, and in comparison, every little thing that has added happiness to my life until now—and the list was pretty long.
Traveling eventually taught me to be a humble and compassionate person. It felt good to know I belonged to a country which, for the most part, ensures a safe environment for people to live. As I traveled, mostly to volunteer and serve the underprivileged, I met people living in areas where they barely get anything. I met travelers who told me about their experiences traveling to the remotest corners of Uganda and Ghana, and how women had to walk endlessly in search of water. Mingling with diverse people from different parts of the world enriched my knowledge and helped me grow as a person. And I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had during my journeys.
Traveling taught me to fall in love with myself.
I’ve been suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) since I was a teenager, and I tend to freak out when things go out of order. But over the years, I’ve become more flexible and I’ve learned to accept that not all situations will turn out the way I want them to be.
Moreover, as I am mostly traveling solo, I get to spend a lot of time with myself, assessing my strengths and weaknesses, dealing with my shortcomings, and cherishing my independence. I’ve become a more curious person than I ever was! I’ve shredded my fears and walked on trails I never believed I could.
Acceptance of the unknown and my ability to adapt made me fall in love with myself.
Author: Riyanka Roy
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron