In a few hours, I will be boarding a plane to leave Vancouver and make my way to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I got six months of traveling through Southeast Asia ahead of me. But it’s a bittersweet feeling. To be honest, it’s more bitter than sweet right now.
I see that as a very positive thing though. I fell in love here, with the city. Even on my bad days here, I still felt extremely lucky to call this place my new home. I walked along the Seawall, watched the waves crash, looked at the mountains, and thought to myself “This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.” Leaving Vancouver feels like leaving a relationship (or putting it on pause, I’ll be back in May). I think I feel this way because I got here only two months ago.
But even within this short time, I made this place my home. I got comfortable. As people, we like being comfortable. We have our daily routines, see familiar faces and places, and are used to most of the things happening around us. Breaking out of our comfort zone is the complete opposite of all this. Everything is going to be new, unexpected things will happen, and we will have to adapt. In Vancouver, I know where to get my coffee fix, the people at the pie shop know me by now, and I even have a few friends here. These things act as a safety net for me. They give me certainty. Unfamiliarity scares me, but my desire to explore is so much greater. So, I don’t have a choice but to let go of that fear and I know that once I get off that plane in Chiang Mai, everything will be fine. Because when I travel, I feel free.
But right now, I still have to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes. Although I didn’t have to say goodbye to many people here. I went out to dinner with one of my close friends last night, and gave him a quick hug in the car. I picked up my bags when my roommates were not at home, so I couldn’t get too emotional. But tomorrow morning, I won’t get around saying my last goodbye. I am really bad with goodbyes and it breaks my heart to turn around, knowing I won’t be back for a while. I know it’s only for six months and I shouldn’t be such a baby. But truth is that part of me fears I won’t make it back here. That I will not find a job, and this will leave me no other choice but to go back to Berlin.
And this is exactly where the best part of leaving begins. Once again, I will have to learn to deal with uncertainties. I will learn to trust myself more, and have faith in my journey. Deep down I probably know I don’t have anything to worry about, and traveling will help me to find that confidence again. Stepping out of our comfort zone and pushing beyond our personal boundaries allows us to go on new adventures. It allows, and forces, us to grow. I owe most of my personal development to traveling. Honestly, I only got to know myself, and truly found out who I was and what I wanted in life, once I started traveling.
Leaving home made me highly independent and self-reliant. With self-reliance, I learned that when I want something to happen, I have to make it happen myself. Nobody here, or anywhere really, is going to do it for me. But also, I realized that I don’t need any other person for these things. I am fully capable of taking care of myself, and I am comfortable being alone. I am the writer of my own story, and I am in full control of the direction it takes. My story is a great one already, and as long as I get up in the morning choosing to be a hero, it will always be a great one (wink to you, BK). Don’t get me wrong, I love every single person in my life. But I choose the people I surround myself with out of love, and not need.
Moreover, I think that it is really important to know what it’s like to be a foreigner somewhere. It is an amazing feeling being “the odd one”, and having no idea what is going on. Likewise, feeling helpless is really powerful. You definitely change the way you treat others once you’ve been in a similar position. You will have more empathy, and be more inclined to helping other people. Traveling introduces you to other cultures and customs, some of which you may even take home. You get to make amazing experiences, and learn so much about other people, and yourself.
I cannot urge you enough to travel, and to leave your comfort zone. If you are thinking “I would, but” right now, change your mind to “I will because” and think about ways you could make it work. I promise you that if you truly want it, you can make it happen. Make the world your playground. Pack your bags and go on an adventure! I’ll enjoy my last hours in Vancouver, and then head over to Thailand in the morning!
Auf Wiedersehen Vancouver. I will be back in May!