I would not be who I am today without the traveling I’ve done as a young adult.

The quickest way to grow as a person is to step outside your comfort zone and leave that little bubble you call home. Traveling really shakes up all aspects of your awareness – whether it be of the world, of diversity in people, or just of yourself.

solo traveling confidence and friends

And even though my horizons have been broadened, as they say, I think how I interact and maintain relationships has changed drastically too. I don’t know where I’ll be next month, or next year, but I know I’ll always have good people in my corner, even if there’s not tons of them.

1 – Depth > Distance

The best friends are the ones who you can be away from, have a little less interaction with, and then when you’re back together it’s like no time has passed and nothing between you has changed. Being away from friends and family has made me really appreciate those relationships. It also makes you realize which relationships actually have a meaningful, substantial impact on your life as compared to people who are your “friends” based on proximity and convenience. I’ve met people in foreign countries that I knew for less than a week, and felt more of a connection with them than some people I’ve known for years. I’m still in contact with a lot of those chance encounters… and I also happen to be dating one of them too 🙂

2 – Friendship is more that an IG double-tap

When you’re away from home it takes more effort to maintain friendships. And you learn which ones are worth the time and energy it takes to coordinate Facetiming and remote birthday presents. How sad is it that we live in a time when friendship is measured in digital interaction, instead of real-life connection? I show my friends and family how much I care about them by sending them funny pictures, calling them to Facetime, asking about their lives and sending a card or two. Being absent from your world back home really reinforces “quality > quantity” in terms of friendships. I’ll take loyalty and kindness over a tag on your Instagram post any day.

3 – Money on my Mind

Remember when you were 15 and the idea of a “good night” was sleeping over at your friends house, watching a DVD their mom bought for them after a good report card or having a dance party to a CD you burnt from MP3’s downloaded (legally of course..) from Limewire? Now it seems like the only way to have a good time with friends requires a $16 cocktail at a bar that’s either too crowded or too empty and a $10 uber to get there in the first place.

Adult socializing is expensive! Or am I just cheap? Probably both. But as someone who is perpetually in the saving-for-my-next-trip mindset, I can’t help but compare the money I’m spending on an extravagant night out to what I could be spending it on in another country.

Don’t get me wrong, when it’s a celebration or special event I’m all for dropping a few dollas to participate. But when I’m with the people I love and care about, I don’t feel the need to be out somewhere surrounded by people we don’t know with an expensive drink in my hand. I’d rather spend some quality time doing something that brings us closer as friends and doesn’t necessarily require alcohol.

And some people just don’t get that, which is fine, but not my style.

4 – “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”

Who knew Dr. Seuss and Kurt had so much in common?

At the end of the day, no one else’s opinion of you matters but your own. When you’re traveling, you’ve got no one to depend on but yourself. You experience amazing thrills that many people only dream of, and you’ll overcome obstacles that you never imagined you’d have to face. Whether it’s an exciting day or a difficult one, every night you go to sleep appreciating the experience.You learn that you’re stronger than you think and smarter than you realized – and probably a lot braver too.That independence and self-reliance is liberating. There’s no point in pretending to be someone you’re not, just to fit in to certain social situations or to make others more comfortable. I’ve learned it’s ok to be unapologetically myself. The people I want to spend my time with are those who like me for me.

So thanks to this stamp-filled passport,

I’ve fallen out of touch with a lot of people, missed a lot of important milestone events, and skipped plenty of nights out. But traveling has given me a strong sense of self reliance, empowerment, tons of connections around the world and an appreciation of the genuinely amazing people I’m lucky enough to call my friends and family.

How has traveling changed your sense of self and interpersonal relationships?

 

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