I’m writing this from my room at 5 in the morning in Vientiane. The power just cut out, its 85 degrees, and my tummy is struggling with the fried animal parts I had for dinner last evening. While conditions aren’t necessarily ideal for sleeping, the reason I’m up is because I’m looking for the best answer as to why. Why here? Why now? Why leave your temperpedic bed and pest controlled apartment for a room you have to share with newts?
Well, like any other twenty something year old living the yuppie dream, I had a mid-quarter-life-century-melt-down. This was a solid 2 years after graduating college where I felt like everything sucked and I had no purpose in life. I know, intense right? It seemed like I had it all; a good degree, an awesome new job, an amazing relationship, great friends and family, but there was still that something missing.
For a long time, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I tried to ignore this feeling, but it kept creeping up and taking the form of aggression against the people that mattered most to me. By January, I had hated who I became. It was then that I had a decision to make; I could wallow in my misery, or I could do something about it.
It wasn’t easy. Before making such a drastic decision to travel I had to really evaluate why I wanted to do this and what I wanted out of it. I went back to the 13 year old me. I had such big plans with my life. I wanted to travel, I wanted to own a business, I wanted to be this confidant, sure, smart woman who could command a presence when entering a room. At 13 I knew I wanted to be all of these things, and the best path to getting there included a college degree.
I started prepping for college in middle school, then I started working in high school to pay for college, then I was working and interning throughout college to get a job after college. I spent over 10 years planning for my graduation. After graduating, I thought I would somehow magically become this woman I wanted to be, but the day came and went like any other. School was done and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of my life next. Which brings me here today.
We’ll have moments along the journey where we forget the end goal. We have to remember to look at the bigger picture when taking strides.
Getting my degree was not the end-all-be-all of my plans. There’s still more I want out of life.
I want to see where my family came from.
I want to step where my parents stepped.
I want to eat everything.
I want to learn how to surf.
I want to be able to just spend a whole day by myself.
I want to have a fluent conversation with my grandmother.
This trip has been almost 10 years in the making, I’ve used my job, school, relationships as a crutch to avoid taking this trip, but not any more. We learn from experience, and what better experience can you get from solo traveling a foreign country for a month? Maybe I’ll discover something else about myself. In the meantime, I’m taking this journey one day at a time, first with befriending my new newt roommate.