I hear it all the time, and I even used to say it myself. “I just want to travel you know? I need to ‘find’ myself .”
First off, what does that even mean?
And second, Traveling will not help “find yourself,” it will only help you gain a better perspective of who you already are back home.
Like many people my age, I was hit hard with the wanderlust bug right after graduating college. Wonderlust is that feeling many my age experience that longs to be apart of something greater than themselves, and feels that only travel will satisfy. Let me tell you, I had it bad! I was bored and unhappy with where my life was going and I longed for more daring adventures, deeper challenges, and a life full of better stories. For some reason, traveling and experiencing the world seemed to be the thing I wanted most, and #hotelprius seemed the best vehicle (both literally and figuratively) to allow me to chase that insatiable dream I felt was missing from my life. But here is what I have learned to be true: Travel is not what I was missing.
I’m convinced the thing I was missing was NOT to explore new and unfamiliar terrain in my world, but new and unfamiliar terrain in my heart. That may sound corny but I needed and longed to feel things deeper than my current level of involvement. I needed to experience life on a more intimate plain. That meant, I needed to get more deeply and intimately involved in something I truly loved and believed in, either romantically or behind a cause. I needed to feel and experience life in new ways, but I was convinced that traveling (probably because it seemed the most fun) was going to satisfy the itch I couldn’t seem to reach. But don’t get me wrong, traveling wasn’t at all that bad or in any way a complete waste of my time. In fact my experience helped me learn that traveling is an art-form and this world is a beautiful work of art that should be celebrated for the beauty that it is. It was also through my traveling that helped me understand that it is the difficult challenges and often uncomfortable circumstances in our lives that allows us to see ourselves for who we truly are, showing our true self in the form of our responses. It is in those uncertain and sometimes extreme circumstances outside of out control (that travel often expedites) that exposes the parts of us, that we ourselves have not yet seen – the parts of us we are convinced we need “to find.” You don’t have to travel to gain perspective. Travel is just the excuse to jump in. If you are looking to “find yourself,” commit yourself to a relationship, get a new job, or join a movement.
Lastly, character isn’t something you find, it is something you develop.