Updated: Aug 18
"That is the magic of travel. You leave your home secure in your own knowledge and identity. But as you travel, the world in all its richness intervenes. You meet people you could not invent; you see scenes you could not imagine. Your own world, which was so large as to consume your whole life, becomes smaller and smaller until it is only one tiny dot in time and space. You return a different person." - Kent Nerburn
We can all get comfortable. We can get stuck in our routines, comfortable in what to expect from the world around us, and complacent. If we're not careful, we can start to assume "our" world is the "only" world.
Until we explore. Until we step outside of the people and places of comfort and predictability, and into the unique, diverse, and totally-new world that lies outside of ourselves. There are new people, new cuisines, new sights, new languages, new routines and ways of living... the list goes on.
My name is Aubrey, and I'm the newest addition to Anne's team. After graduating college, I had the opportunity to move abroad to London, UK, as an au pair for 8 months. Having not had the opportunity to travel internationally (or much around the US for that matter), I didn't know much of what to expect. But, having graduated college in the middle of the pandemic, I jumped in head first to the unknown. I packed my suitcase and said goodbye to my family in the US to live alongside a new family abroad in a country (and continent!) I'd never been.
While I did have my hesitations and worries, it was this unexpectedness that excited me. The unknown. What was the world like outside of my bubble? How different would life feel? What would the people be like? What would it look like? How comfortable would I feel?
Uncertainties swirled in my head, but the excitement for the growth I knew I was bound to experience soothed any hesitations I had. I knew that this experience would open my eyes to the world.
I was right.
I want to note here that this perspective-shifting doesn't have to mean booking a flight and flying across the world. A shift in perspective can be experienced close to home as well. Perhaps you choose a new cuisine to try for dinner on Saturday evening and dine-in or order takeout from a local restaurant. Maybe you attend a cultural festival or concert that you wouldn't normally be drawn to right in your home city. There is a privilege with travel, and I do want to recognize that.
Outside of our comfort zones and amongst new cultures, we can reflect on our lifestyle, our day-to-day choices and priorities. My time in London allowed me to reflect on where I spend my time - whether working, with family, friends, or just by myself - and whether I actually liked it that way. I think often our day-to-day routines and habits are a reflection simply of what we've always known and seen around us, and we don't always take a moment to consider that there might be other ways of living that may serve us better.
In this new setting, I could see just a glimpse of how many other ways of living exist, each so unique and beautiful. New traditions, new cuisines, new fashions. New ways to spend a Sunday afternoon with family, and new ways to commute into the office. My life is just a small speck in this great big beautiful unique world that we all have the pleasure of sharing.
For me, this perspective shift has reminded me how beautiful our differences are. How boring a human population we would be if we were all the same. It's our differences that make us unique, exciting, and multi-layered.
Travel has opened my eyes and shifted my perspective. It's made me uncomfortable, yet pushed me to grow.
Miles away or close to home, may your next eye-opening, worldview-widening, perspective-shifting experience bring you more discomfort, more newness, more reflection, and more growth.
"I'm not sure what I'll do, but - well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow, and want to live where things happen on a big scale." - F. Scott Fitzgerald
What have you learned from travel? Tweet us @annevangessel0
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