Expanding Your Horizons

Diving underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays.

Diving underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays.

When you travel you are exposed to so many new and different things. You are exposed to new foods, new ways to cook and even new ways to eat. You discover different types of architecture, different types of houses and different styles of decor in those houses. You encounter people who think and act differently than not only yourself, but anyone you’ve ever known. You come to learn different sports, hobbies and activities that other cultures participate in. In some areas of the world, the people and lifestyles you will encounter will be a complete 180 to the ways of life that you have come accustomed to.

This is one of the things I enjoy most about traveling.

All you ever know is what you learn from things/places/experiences that surround you. When you grow up in a small town, or even a large city, and never have the opportunity to see anything else but the tiny world you live in, you never know any differently than what you’ve already been doing.

When you aren’t exposed to the new experiences that travel offers, it becomes a lot harder to understand that there are many other ways of life, and many other ways people choose to live their lives. Therefore you may be unaware that there are other options for you, and there are other ways you can live your life. They might be unconventional options that others may brush off, but when you travel you see these other ways of life playing out right in front of you, and you start to believe that you can do those things too.

I’ve always loved the water. As a child my parents used to jokingly call me a fish because I spent every moment of every day swimming in the lake. When I got older and started travelling, I got the opportunity to go snorkelling in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on a family vacation. Although at first the concept of breathing underwater made me uncomfortable, I soon grew to love the experience. Fast forward to several years later and I found myself on a three day sailing trip through the Whitsunday Islands of Australia. There were only two people on the boat apart from the guests – the captain, and this girl working on the sailboat as a “deckie” (sailor slang for deckhand). She was from New Zealand and was the same age as I was. As I got to know her over the course of our trip, I envied the fact that she worked on this beautiful sailboat in this gorgeous place and her duties mostly consisted of cooking for and entertaining the guests on the boat. Her work uniform was a bikini, and she got to participate in a lot of the same activities we did. She came snorkelling with us, stayed up late socializing with us, and spent lots of time on deck basking in the sun. I want this job, I thought.

In reality, there’s no reason why I couldn’t have that job. For a lot of people it might not seem like a legitimate long-term option, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a short-term experience (or even a long-term career if you wanted it to be). When young people think about their career prospects for the future, jobs like teacher, police office, lawyer and doctor get thrown around a lot. And of course those are beautiful goals, but they’re not the only ones you have to consider.

Our society places far too much value on what we do, and far too little value on who we are.

Travel helped me see that there are other ways to be happy.

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