Three days ago I crossed the equator for the first time in my life. This particular flight was from Los Angeles to Sydney. Upon landing in a different country, I realized that I would have to put myself outside of my comfort zone in order to get anything done. I don’t have my parents or relatives to back me up. I mean my girlfriend came with, so I am not alone, but she’s just as lost as I am. Luckily, everyone in Australia speaks english. I have yet to meet someone who is unfriendly. So this environment is conducive to growth in a strange way. The people are nice and they will want to help you, what really matters is your own mental game. I say this because I was standing outside of a grocery store thinking about how to ask the clerk where I could find sim cards in order to get online. I actually overthought this simple question. I was too in my own head. Too focused on what the other person would think.
This stopped when I actually made the choice to ask. I forced myself out of my head and into the real world. It was humbling to do this. Which is what I wanted to highlight. If you travel, you will have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. This will grow you. These situations will make you realize that you are just one person in a sea of others, all experiencing this shared journey called life. Forcing yourself to ask questions and make new friends will test you. It will encourage you to try new things. And these attempts will build on each other. Meaning, you will become more outgoing and confident.
In my case, I was pushed by the circumstances of needing information. I had to get out there and find out what I didn’t know. There was nobody else to do it. This is the beauty of travel. At some point, I would have to make the decision to let go of my comfort zone. After all, a turtle that stays in it’s shell never goes very far.
Going new places is all about expansion. To grow yourself through an increased understanding of what is out there. When an unusual circumstance arises, its a chance to become better. In the same way that, when a frustrating problem comes about, you can either view it as a bad event or as a good growth opportunity. Your mindset will determine your reaction.
I think a great example of this mindset shift is illustrated when my car doesn’t start. I have a 2006 VW Beetle. It has a diesel engine and lots of electrical problems. This means that during the winter, when its really cold in Minnesota, it doesn’t always start. So sometimes I will be stranded outside of a sleeping friend’s house at 2:00am with no way to get my car running and a dying phone. I can either complain and wake up my parents for help. Or I can realize that this is an opportunity for me to grow and expand my abilities. I can comfortably say that the car problems I experience are great vehicles for me to learn patience and maintenance.
Travel, by contrast, forces strange challenges on you in ever different ways. You may need to figure out where the nearest grocery store is. You may need to determine how much the food there costs when it is in a different currency and weight system. Either way, you’re going to be outside of your comfort zone or you’re going to fucking starve.
I’ll leave you with this quote that I really admire.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Your comfort zone is just an illusion. Go do.
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