I graduated from college last year, which means lots of my peers have spent the past12 months dropping everything and traveling. It’s popularnowadays for people my age toeat-pray-lovetheir way around the world after some drastic life change or when they just need to get away from “it all.”
Why do they do this? Well, to find themselves, of course.
It makes sense, really.To emerge asthemagnificent version of yourselfyou’re destined to be, you must dip your toes into the unfamiliar. You must test the limits of your comfort zone. You must push boundaries. And what better way to do all of that — to find yourself, that is — then to travel, right?
During my junior year of college, I spent a semester abroadin Europe after having never left the United States in my life. I lived in a hostel with otherforeign students in Madrid, Spain, andI spent my weekends travelingto Africa, Italy, The Netherlands, France, and other citiesaround Spain.
Let’s just say I not only dipped my toes in the unfamiliar, but Idrowned in it.
I spent twodays livingwith a Muslim familyin Morocco, and then anothertwo visiting mosques and hiking through a rural mountainside village. I bathed topless with a dozen other women in an Arabic bathhouse in Granada. Time slowed down to frighteningly warped speeds when I smoked way too muchweedin Amsterdam on two separate occasions (and I’m whateverthe opposite of astoner is). I got completely lost on remote streets in Rome with no way to ask anybody for directions, sinceI don’t speak Italian … and I had no serviceon my iPhone.
In those few months, I learned more than I ever thought I would aboutdifferent cultures. I accumulated an impressive amount of experiences for someone so young, and for someone who had never really traveled before.
But my tripdidn’t quitehelp mefindmyself.Finding myself was not going to happen on a single trip overseas. Finding myself has beena process.
You want to know all the timesIreallyfound myself? When I stoodup for myself when someone treated me unfairly. When, after years struggling with what I wanted to do with my life, I realized that I wanted to be a writer. When I sprinted down the soccer field and scored the winning goal, despite the fact that my lungs were about to cave in. When I got my heart broken. When I let myself fallin love again.
I foundmyself whenever Iwasforced to look inside myself foranswers — for how tosolve a problem, to decidewhether or not to take advantage of an opportunity,to testthe limits of my own physical and emotional strength. And the quest for answershasn’t stopped. I keep finding myself every singleday.
You’re not requiredto catapultyourself into a completely foreign environment in order to come across things that need answers. Life demands answers out of usevery day, in the most mundane of moments. And it’s in these moments that you’ll really, truly find yourself.
Finding myself has involvedlots of failure and lots of thinking I found success when I actually found failure. It’s involved thinking I found a self that I’m comfortable with, but then realizing that I’muncomfortable with her,and then finding some other self who I felt slightly more comfortable with, but then realizing thatshewasn’t quite right either.
And thisprocess isstill happening. I may never fully “find myself.” I mean, who does? Aren’twe always changing? Aren’t we always finding new media, new people, new experiencesthatinfluence us? Aren’t we always presented with new obstacles that we’ve never been presented withbefore, which forcesus to recalibrate the way we do things?
Aren’twe always looking for answers within ourselves?
I’m only 22, butthe personI was at 18, 19, 20, even 21 is vastly different from who I am now. Now that I’m a college graduate with a job in the real world, I definitely feel myself leveling out andturning more into the womanI’m destined to become. But I don’t want to limither. I want to let her keep growing. I want to keep her mind open.
I want to let her continue finding herself.
Originally found athttp://www.elitedaily.com