Read about how I learned these important life lessons on my transformation experience abroad and how you can practice them in your life. Interesting travel stories included!
In May and June, I toured around Europe (again)! I first visited Italy for 2 weeks with family and toured the 3 hotspots - Venice, Florence, and Rome. Then, I flew to Spain (my happy place) and spent one and a half months there, touring the Basque Country and Tenerife, the largest Spanish Canary Island. This trip was worth every experience - from the delicious cuisines, to the spontaneous excursions, to the incredible people I met along the way.
2 months of traveling can truly transform you. The reason I went on my travels this year was because I knew I was in dire need of a transformative experience. This need stemmed from a lot of frustration and confusion I was experiencing in my life. Last year, I embarked on a 4-month journey abroad, which taught me a lot about how capable I was in doing anything I put my mind to. It truly expanded my horizons of life, but after I returned home to my normal routine, I felt I reverted to my old ways and needed something deeper within myself. So this year, I went back to Europe in hopes of having a transformative experience. I wasn’t quite sure how exactly it would happen, but I pushed myself to go beyond my comfort zone to really get there. Through my explorations and adventures, I’ve discovered so much about myself and gained deep life lessons that go far beyond an inspirational Instagram post – ultimately, because they were practiced in what I was doing. If you’re in a place where you’re still figuring things out and are striving to become a better YOU, you’re in the right place. I’m here to share my 5 life lessons from my “travel transformation”, so keep scrolling. I’m sure you’ll find this post helpful in some way.
1. Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
Truthfully, at home, I get so comfortable with my routine that I don’t bother saying yes to things that are outside of my comfort zone. But when I travel, it shifts my environment from familiar and comfortable to completely NEW and uncomfortable, which makes me incredibly more open to trying new things. For example, at Sun & Co. Coliving (Coliving is a community living concept where digital nomads share the space of a property to work and live in and benefit from shared costs and living with a community of like-minded people) where I was staying in the Basque Countryside, I volunteered to do a Mastermind, where I shared a problem I was facing to my peers and we discussed the topic together in a non-judgemental space. The problem I presented was: How can I set boundaries with family and peers, which was a very emotional and uncomfortable topic for me to discuss. Although I felt this way, my peers really helped me to get to the root of the problem and made me feel heard and supported. After getting through it, I was incredibly thankful I took on the task because I would have never received that space to talk about it freely and openly in any other situation. I was also very proud of myself for being vulnerable and entrusting people to help me, specifically people that I didn’t know well at the time that later became good friends. The lesson here - the next time you want to say no to an opportunity because it’s out of your comfort zone, consider the positive outcomes if you say yes.
2. Openness means trying things with curiosity and without expectations
Hand in hand with #1, being open is critical when you try new things and your degree of openness can determine how transformative an experience can be. I believe this can be determined by your level of curiosity and expectations. Curiosity is the quality that heightens one’s desire to explore and learn, opening up the bounds of your mind and heart. Expectations are the belief of something happening in the future and can create a wall of judgment and fear around an experience, which can lower your degree of openness. Through my travel experiences, I’ve found a high degree of curiosity and a low to zero level of expectations is the recipe for having a high degree of openness. In Tenerife, my Brazilian friend asked me if I wanted to join her and some other peers from Maraya Coliving (the coliving I was staying at) for an Ecstatic Dance. If you don't know what ecstatic dance is, it's a free-flowing dance where there are no steps to follow and you move freely to the music where feelings of ecstasy can be experienced. I had a lot of hesitations about going to this because I'm embarrassed of my dancing skills and the activity looked very hippy when I watched a Youtube video on it. My friend insisted I join her, so I decided to give it a shot and tried my best to lower my expectations and keep an open mind about it. This activity was in fact the most hippy thing I've done, it was even held at"Hippi Beach." We ended up dancing in the middle of the desert in the blazing sun with a DJ playing soulful, immersive music for 2 hours! After, we wrote down how we were feeling and shared our takeaway from the experience. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the experience. It was fun, very spiritual, and helped the group to bond with one another. After that, I would not hesitate to agree to an invite to an ecstatic dance. The takeaway here - don’t allow your expectations to supersede your level of curiosity.
3. Just because something doesn’t happen the way you want, doesn’t mean it’s your fault
This lesson really hits home for me. For people that find comfort in control and are highly accountable, when situations don’t turn out the way you intend, what do you do? For me, I often blame myself for not ensuring that the outcome I desire happened. Through deep conversations about this with friends on my travels, they reminded me that there are so many factors involved in situations that are out of my control. Objectively speaking, my actions may contribute to 20% of the outcome, sometimes more or less. All in all, during these tough times, I've found this saying as an important reminder that I did my best and that I deserve to give myself compassion: I’ve done the best I can at the time given with what I knew then and the resources I had. Nevertheless, it’s important to realize that something not happening as you expect is not always a bad thing and really comes down to your perspective of it. Sometimes the universe is telling you something can’t happen for something better to enter your life. So don’t forget, if something doesn’t work out, the best is yet to come.
4. Learn How to Let Go of Good Things
This was something super tricky for me to figure out. If something is good, why would you want to let it go? For me, I've found this to be a big problem in my life. Even in my room, I have many nice items that I keep but never use in hopes that one day I'll find them useful for something. I've found this behavior a reflection of how I live my life, which is to hold on to things. Through my adventures, I’ve discovered that I have to learn the art of letting go of good things in life because they aren't meant to last forever. As the circle of life goes, everything on earth has a “shelf life” and that not only applies to goods, but also relationships, experiences, and so on. In other words, timing plays a critical role in when things are good or not good in your life and it’s up to you to find out what that timeframe is. For example, I planned to travel for 2 months this year and stay in places longer because I found my travels for 4 months last year too long for me after getting burnt out and sick with my grandiose itinerary. I could have traveled for another month, but as much as I love traveling, it can get tiring with all the planning required and straining on my wallet with all the excursions and indulgences. In other words, traveling becomes less enjoyable the longer I do it at a single time. So if you’re feeling the good thing in your life – whether it’s your lifestyle, job, home, or relationship is no longer serving you the way it once did, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate whether you should continue to keep it in your life or let it go.
5. Holding On Can Prevent Better Things From Entering Your Life
This is a secondary lesson to #4. For this, I want you to imagine your entire life on a bookshelf. Each shelf is meant for different areas of your life – personal, professional, spiritual, financial, health, etc. and some shelves are bigger than others depending on their level of importance. At a given time, the space on your shelf can reach maximum capacity and not have room for other things. So, the lesson here - letting go of things in your current and past life opens up room for new and better things to enter your life. If I had held on to my comfortable life in Vancouver and not taken the opportunity to travel solo and live in Europe last summer and this summer, I would not be able to have these experiences and lessons from my travels that can share with you today in this blog post. There is only so much time in this life, so fill it with great things, and don’t forget to do your seasonal “spring cleaning”.
All in all, my travels abroad this summer have had a huge impact on my life. Learning these 5 life lessons on my "travel transformation" has allowed me to embrace the good and bad of my past, look forward to the exciting journey that awaits, and help me to take control over my life. I hope wherever you are in life, that this post has inspired you to embrace the ups and downs of life and strive to live a fulfilling life on your terms. If you are interested in reading more about my travels abroad, check out my Travel & Adventures blog posts. As well, if you prefer to HEAR about my travels abroad, press the PLAY icon on my Travel Transformation & Wine: Banter in the Chapel with Jessica podcast episode below. Thanks for checking out this blog post! Ciao.