300 days abroad – Accounts of the inner journey
It is time to make up the balance after being abroad for more then 300 days. However, in this article I want to reflect on the inner journey instead of the actual trip. Where there any spiritual or mental changes during these 300 days? Can I speak of inner growth? Was it a good idea to exchange the safe harbor for an unpredictable sea? Am I happier when I travel or when I stay home?
It is important to reserve some time for reflection during long journeys. At such moments, I advice you to write an overview of your thoughts and experiences. What are the benefits of your current lifestyle, and what are the problems that you encounter? What better way is there then to write it all down. Here are some personal growth lessons, which I gained during my 300 days abroad.
A traveler needs to learn to be patient. The challenge to be patient provides itself in many forms. For example, traveling often means waiting. At airports, at bus stations, at border crossings, during flights etc. The real challenge starts when you finally arrive at your new destination. Already on boiling point, you often have to deal with all kinds of people that want or need something from you. They can greatly increase the patience challenge.
I did my fair share of waiting and dealing with annoying people (who, at their turn, can be very patient in slow cooking your remaining sanity). I can still be impatient but long term travelling numbs that feeling. You start to accept that it is part of the deal. I say this to myself every time I am about to lose my mind. Sometimes it works, sometimes I end up in a police cell..
More respect for the “smaller” things in life
A roof above your head. A bed under your body. Healthy and rich food on the table. Friends and family members who care about you. A place you can call home. The longer I travel the more I start to realize how important these things are in a person’s life. I might not give them much thoughts when they are present, but I think about them a lot when they are out of reach.
I often say it to myself with a slight feeling of disbelief, am I really doing it? Yes, I am really doing it! I am following my dream of traveling around the world and living abroad. It puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. Now I feel really lucky and blessed that I have the opportunity to live this kind of life. I truly appreciate this amazing gift.
Trips to less developed and poorer countries always make me appreciate what I have. I am able to travel the world. I have a lot of free time, and I can use that time to do fun things. Not everybody receives those opportunities. I often realize how blessed I am when I see people who have to work for pennies everyday of the week, or really poor beggars who have to live on the street.
I used to nag a lot back home, but really, I have nothing to complain about. I am living an amazing live. However, I try not to brag about it to much. During my travels, I am often confronted with the hardships of less fortunate people. Seeing them suffer made me decide to create charity projects in the countries that I visit. I also try to become a more humble person.
I thought we had to work hard in the Netherlands. That our lives where tough and that we did not earn enough money. I used to open my mouth about those “problems”, and out of my mouth came complaints. In Thailand, I got a much needed lesson in humbleness. Life in the Netherlands was not so bad after all. I learned to listen instead of to talk. To give instead of to take.
Make that inner journey
As you might have noticed, a lot of my inner reflections are focused on confrontations with poverty and the hardships of other people. I guess coming from a “rich” and western country, it can sometimes be a shock and an eye opener to learn about the daily reality on the other side of the world.
Personal growth will emerge from that knowledge. You learn to be humble and appreciate what you have. You learn to care for others and to be more patient. Combine these positive changes with feelings of freedom and you know why you have to make that inner journey. That is why I encourage people to travel and why I will continue to write about it.
How did you mentally change while traveling? Which great insights, skills and abilities did you gain during your trip?
- Mythic stories and inner growth: A great article from Jonathan Young. How adventure stories and mythic tales show us the important challenges of the journey. During our journey we change and gain knowledge. We leave, learn and eventually return as a wiser person.
- My charity project: I made it my goal to start a charity project in every country that visit for a longer period. On this page you can read about my current charity efforts in Thailand.
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