I remember recently my now-ex-boyfriend and I were out to dinner, and somehow the topic of the Seven Virtues — chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility — came up. We started laughing, talking about which qualities the other had and didn’t have.
“You DEFINITELY don’t have patience, that’s for sure,” he said, smiling but serious.
Oy. I knew I wasn’t the queen of restraint, but was I really that bad?
Thinking about it more, yes I was. Actually, am. If I’ll be totally honest, it’s the thing about myself I hate the most. When someone doesn’t understand me, when something takes too long or when I don’t get what I want in a timely fashion (within reason) I get moody and ill to my stomach. It’s a very unattractive side to myself that I genuinely hope to change.
My First New Year’s Resolution
Well, 2015 seems like the perfect place to start. I’ve actually never made a real New Year’s resolution before. Not one that I actually wrote down or actively said, “This will be the year I change XYZ.” I always felt that if you wanted to change something badly enough you shouldn’t have to wait until the new year to do it. This year, however, my perspective has changed a bit. Most likely it’s because my boyfriend of a almost a year-and-a-half and I broke up on New Year’s weekend — more on that in an upcoming post — but this year I’m feeling like the new year will offer a fresh start to a better me.
Growing Through Travel
It’s funny. Travel has taught me so many important lessons, and I’ve grown tremendously from exploring the world. While traveling solo has made me more independent, going against societal norms and following my true passion of travel blogging has helped me see there are alternative, more blissful paths to life one can take rather than the standard 9-to-5. Going local on the road has allowed me to help local economies and interact with communities around the globe, learning more about how to travel responsibly (and found Responsible Tourism Chat on Twitter (#RTTC)). I’ve learned to be more open minded to other perspectives, more adaptable in normally uncomfortable situations and better equipped to go with the flow, because in reality you really can’t control the unpredictability of life.
However, patience is still something I struggle with. Big time.
On the road it’s a bit easier for me to be calm and forgiving. Waiting 40 minutes for a bowl of pasta doesn’t seem as unforgivable abroad as it does in Brooklyn. I’m willing to try to answer local questions — sometimes fruitlessly — for hours when traveling, while if my dad doesn’t understand in five minutes or less how to check his Facebook messages I give up. And don’t even get me started on my reaction if you knock on my door, call me or try to talk to me while I’m writing.
It’s like my mind and body is propelling itself forward at rapid speed, even when I’m sitting still. I may look calm on the outside, but if you could see — or better yet feel — the rapid heart beat, butterfly-filled stomach and pulsating veins, you’d have a better understanding.
How Solo Travel Helps
Part of the problem is that I suffer from anxiety. I never really put the two together until I started realizing the physical symptoms were similar, basically a constant sense of pressure. After doing a bit of research, I found articles suggesting anxious people tend to need seek immediate solutions, and therefore can be impatient by nature.
In some ways, this feeling has helped me to thrive, as in working well under pressure and being able to complete many tasks in a short time; however, as I get older I’m realizing that I crave relaxation, for my mental and physical health, both inside and out. Despite the amount I travel, I rarely can get myself to truly unwind — although I may make this a secondary resolution.
I know both of these tasks will be difficult, but I’ve conquered far harder. This is where solo travel comes in — and why I recommend it to all of you. I’ve learned so much about myself and truly realized what I was capable of taking to the road on my own. Because whatever challenges came my way — even ones I didn’t think I’d be able to conquer like getting chased by dogs in Ecuador or having my money taken on a bus in Naples — I conquered them using my own wit and strength. Not because I’m particularly smart or strong, but because I had no choice but to take care of myself.
I attribute solo travel to much of the confidence I have in myself today.
Right now, I feel as if I have no choice but to take action and start moving in the right direction and become a better person. While I feel as though travel has made me a more worldly person, there are times when I feel like I lose my more globally conscious self once back home. This will be the year that I work hard, and with confidence, to change that.
How has travel helped you to become a better person? Any insightful lessons learned from the road? Please share in the comments below.
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