Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson
Today, I’ve awoken in the same bed that I’ve called home for close to 10-months, however, I’m a year older and while my body continues to remind me of this, I still am able to smile back at the choices I’ve made in life. Since I’ve been a complete nerd–keeping statistics from day number one of this amazing ongoing journey that began on March 5, 2012 in Denver, Colorado–I have called 352 different places home over the past 1,081 days. First of all, anyone that knew me before this knew that I wasn’t always the biggest fan of change like most people. I stayed with the same company, HDNet (AXSTV), for almost 12-years, after purchasing my first home in December 2002 I never moved from there and still own the house, so needless to say, I was a “creature of habit.” I had a very comfortable lifestyle in almost every way–most of my family lived within 10-minutes, my friends that I would see multiple throughout the week for happy hours after work and on weekends, I participated on regular sports teams throughout the year with friends, but this dream of traveling the world without a time limitation was not going away, but began to nag at me more and more.
2. Watching your life at home pass by. Sadly, this is a part of living abroad that has been the hardest. Even with the ocassional updates via social media and watching friends get married, have children, and watching my own nieces grow older, it’s probably the hardest sacrifice that weighs heavily upon my thoughts. And while many of you may think, “wow he’s experiencing all these amazing places and the photos look incredible,” what you don’t see are the many lonely nights and days, the 12-plus-hour bus rides, sleeping in some of the most random places that make you feel more like a hobo at times than a traveler. Therefore to me, it can be similar to how many people thing of fame I suppose, it seems nice for a while, but there are still plenty of downsides that go along with the upswings.
3. Appreciation for the United States. Regardless of your political leanings and the current state of the administration, living abroad gives me some of the utmost appreciation for growing up in the United States and many of the simple things we would grumble and complain about regularly. But, anyone that has lived abroad soon realizes how nice even some of the worst black holes of American society can be, such as the DMV, the U.S. Department of Labor, the argumentative understandings of our Consititutional rights, and Stove Top.
4. Communication. Fighting through language barriers is possible, and I’ve learned that a simple smile goes a long way.
5. Stories. Some of the most wacky and incredible things that couldn’t be made up, I’ve experienced. I feel that I have more stories from the first three-months of backpacking than I did over the past five-years of living in the States. Excitement is around almost every corner.
6. Homesickness. This can hit at some of the most random of moments. The most forgotten of holidays, Arbor Day, ok well maybe not Arbor Day, but other little holidays and moments you often overlooked can make you the most homesick.
7. Growth. I’ve noticed that whether I am moving more frequently or lingering in places longer, there is perpetual growth that I notice. Sometimes more than other. Sometimes it’s seen more evidently, but it seems to be a constant.
8. Adrenaline. Whether it’s cliff-diving alongside a waterfall or arriving at a bus terminal where a hundred local taxi drivers are ready to assault and harass you, it’s a feeling that continues to keep you on edge. And while at times you want to just give some of these people a five-fingers to the face for invading your personal space amid a lack of sleep over the past 127-hours, the adrenaline rush exists when arriving in places that you just heard about hours before departing on the bus that has brought you to your current new location on the globe.
9. Endurance. Trust me, there have been plenty of times I have thought about returning back to the States, back to a cushy little lifestyle. There have been times of tears and frustration, but this has helped me to endure some of the most difficult of times, often completely alone and in isolation, but through it, this has been part of the journey–part of what has built up my character.
10. The Goodbyes. Having to say hello for the first time and having to say goodbye for the final time. The hellos are easy. You will be surprised at how easy it has become for me to appraoch completely strangers and begin a conversation without any fear. But to me, it isn’t the hello’s but the idea that I may have said goodbye for the final time, even to those back in Colorado. For as much as I hope and pray that I may see them all again one day, I knew that when I left, that I may never have this opportunity to see them again, whatever reason that may be. I don’t know why I can’t write about this know, as my mind is full of thoughts, but maybe it’s just that at the current moment I find it too difficult to express in words.