This is a little unrelated to crafting and calligraphy but I recently did some lettering on a beautiful sliver of blue geode that my friend let me play around with. She threw out a few words like “create” and “grow” for lettering ideas. Since her business involves creating beautiful art with succulents and other forms of greenery, I figured “grow” would be the most appropriate.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of “growth” quite a bit and it just so happens that my passport is about to expire. I started wondering how much I’ve grown in the past 10 years. I thought about the single most influential experience that has allowed me to “grow” and transition from my late teens and into my late twenties.
For me, it’s always been travel. Traveling the world has been challenging at times but always leaves me in awe and amazement. Not only because of the beautiful places I’ve seen or the interesting people I’ve met. What's most fascinating is that there are people all over who are so similar to me but yet living such different lives. I love to learn and read but I am certain that my travel experiences have taught and influenced me the most in life.
Yes, I’ve learned about budgeting, planning, and travel has even compelled me to take self-defense classes in case I ever find myself in sticky situation. However, most importantly, travel has taught me the importance of language, open-mindedness, empathy, and how little space (physical) each of us really occupies in the world. Well, minus our homes, cars, and carbon footprint.
A little fact about me is that I travel a lot on my own. In total, I’ve traveled in the United States, Asia, Europe, and North Africa by myself. People always ask me why I would ever dare do anything like that or how I muster enough courage. Isn’t it dangerous? Aren’t you scared? How are you still alive? My answer comes from experience or I guess a lack of experiences.
I grew up in a pretty unique environment. Although I admit I was raised in a sheltered community, my parents are immigrants from a developing country in southeast Asia. I would make regular trips to the Philippines always returning to my little, baby pink room located in a cookie cutter home in southern California.
So when it was time to leave my comfort zone for university at 17 years old (I have a late birthday), I was extremely terrified yet excited. Most people I know from high school actually never left our little neighborhood or only moved within the city or within the southern California region so I felt like some type of extremist. This is actually kind of funny because UCSB is in some ways so similar to San Diego as both cities cradle the beaches along the Pacific Coast.
Anyway, as a college student I quickly learned that many travel opportunities would pass me by if I didn’t just go for it. I’ve learned that with many things but especially with travel. People are always so scared to venture into the unknown. So after the very first time someone bailed on me, I realized that I couldn’t let someone else’s plans interfere with what I wanted to do. I thought about the lack of experiences I would miss out on if I didn’t just go out and travel on my own.
So to answer the common question of “How do you do it on your own?” Well, I always tell others that if you wait around for someone to be “ready” to travel with you, you’ll literally die waiting for them. Which basically translates to they won’t ever do it so you should just do it on your own.
I’ve actually found that this concept applies to growing as a person. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, etc. I really feel the act of “growing” starts when you step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. You force yourself to rely on your senses, use your judgement, and to do unconventional things like use a real map!!! I started traveling before smart phones so I literally relied on strangers and paper maps. I got lost a few times or a lot of times but I’ve always found my way and arrived to where I was suppose to be. If I didn’t end up to where I planned, I usually just met some other travelers along the way and arrived at an equally amazing, scenic destination.