Lessons from around the world
The first time I traveled outside the borders of any country was in 1998, and I was five. Since then I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams and have spent a total of 15 years in 5 countries (Zimbabwe, India, Kuwait, Japan and most recently Australia).
You see, I am the daughter of a diplomat which means my family and I tail my dad across the world, country to country representing our beloved nation, Nigeria. And honestly, it is awesome for most parts. Spending 2-4 years in a land that is not yours followed by a short sabbatical in your own homeland… Wash and repeat… Isn't something I would complain over anytime soon. It is a beautiful life and often a very fulfilling one.
I say all this not to brag about my travels or the privilege I have to continuously see and be part of numerous different countries, cultures, and people. But instead to share what I have learned about humanity and its link to wanderlust.
Where doesn’t count
Whenever I tell people about my life and my travel ventures the sentences that follow are:
· Oh! Wow, you are so lucky, you get to visit so many places.
· Where is your favorite place, so far?
· Have you been to…?
· I wish I could live like that
So, on and so forth. However, the truth is I never bother much about where we are going- as long as we go somewhere. Confession: I’ve never researched a country before going there. I just wait till we are there, and then explore.
Many people believe that being in a new place will unlock the element(s) that they think is missing in their lives or that being in a new location will instill in them an attribute or view of life that will make them whole, but what I find is: the person you are at your residence is the same individual you travel with, only our faith in the impossible changes. We allow ourselves to believe that things can change, that better exists, that we are able and capable of more and in doing so we allow ourselves to pursue what we want/ need for a better, happier, holistic life.
If only we allowed ourselves to believe that anything- and everything- is possible right where we are. Imagine the possibilities.
There is a difference between visiting and living in a place
For most people traveling to a country or city means a long to-do list with a lot of tourists must goes/does and a workout for their taste buds. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that isn’t the case for nomadic families like mine nor is it so for immigrants. Things like school, work, and other responsibilities catch up with us, and we join the dull systems that tourist’s run away from. Unlike those who vacation for a few weeks at most, the highlights of my travels aren’t the places I’ve been.
When I think of my stay in Zimbabwe, I don’t just reminisce over my first ever boat ride and playing with hippos, rather I think of my love for school and education that manifested there. The same applies to India, where my adoration for art, nutrition, and adventure was birthed. Kuwait allowed me to grow myself as a young woman (challenging a lot of what I knew prior), I learned the most about my faith there not to mention I got inducted into the bookworm club there too. And it goes on and on and on.
Most people go through many or all of these phases in the same place, with the same/ similar people which isn't necessarily a bad thing especially since our communities are increasingly diversifying, however, lines are still drawn. Travelling allows you to meet people and experience stories that could have never intersected with yours if it wasn’t for your visit. It makes it possible for us to see that as consumed with our lives as we are, there is more to life than our immediate circle thereby experiencing true sonder and wonder. Ultimately, travel is one of the most successful windows, allowing us to take a peek at one’s soul.
My days of traveling as a diplomatic child have come to an end. However, I can't even dream about a future where I don't continue to see the world anymore. I know it won't be like it used to be, but I also understand that traveling will always mean more than a picturesque memory to me. Because every place is a marker that I can use to trace my journey as an individual. Because every place I go to is another dimension of who I am and it adds to the possibility of who I could become. And that is what I pray every one takes from this post: a conviction to embrace life the way it is experienced by locals. To create a link that is stronger than our initial prejudices; authentic and beyond the stereotypes that exist. To look at travel as a means of personal growth and enlightenment, as well as universal peace and understanding. And lastly, for you to appreciate traveling as a mindset which is far more dazzling than physical relocation.
Eden doesn't exist on earth
The latest lesson I've learned about traveling is about how imperfect EVERY location is. Let's be honest there are millions of breathtaking places on earth and it's easy to be blinded by its beauty if you only focus on the sites; in doing so you miss out on the diversity and complex picture that is living on this great planet. The funny part about this world is that every country, city, and village are usually going through the same issues; they just manifest differently. People are unhappy about the same things, they are fighting the same battles and you can choose to let that make you pessimistic or it can make you accept our similarities and appreciate the uniqueness.
There is this serendipitous moment that occurs when traveling the world and you stop seeing the differences between the people of where you are from and the ones that are staring at you. You somehow start to peel off people's skin and at that moment you can only see the soul within. And unsuspectingly you realize that you've been linked to the people and places you've visited. You link up with the humanity within all of us, because women all over the world are fighting the same battles, because mental illness is real, because people are unhappy/ fretting about at least one aspect of their lives, because people are trying to make the best out of what they are dealt with. WHY? Because we are all human and we are in this fight together. So yeah, the earth is no Eden, but we have a close second if we can make the best out of our lives and travels.
P.S Don't forget to like, comment and share, plus let me know if you agree, disagree or just share your experiences with traveling; let's make it a convo! Love you, and more Blabbering to come.