I’ve never been out of the country. I don’t own a passport; I haven’t even seen the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls or the Redwoods or the Florida Keys. At least I’ve been to Disneyland, which is apparently just the lamer version of Disney World.
I often find myself feeling like a little fish caught in a net. On a nasty beach. In a tide pool. A tiny fish who hasn’t been able to travel and experience divine things like it seems so many of my peers have. You would think as an Air Force brat I would have at least been to Hawaii?? No. As someone who truly appreciates diversity, exploration, and learning about culture, this is almost insulting to my soul.
Today as I had another self pity party while scrolling through Instagram and seeing photos of China and Peru and London, I had an epiphany. My whole life has been an adventure; I’ve traveled more than anyone I know.
I have grown up in no less than seven states. Each of these places has left more of an imprint on my heart and development than any week trip to Europe ever could. As I think back on each of these special homes, I think of how different the people were in each place. How different the cultures were even though they were only a couple thousand miles apart. I hit milestones in each one. I learned how to walk in Washington and loved my first dog in San Antonio; I was a country girl in Missouri and found my passion for writing in Maryland. I encountered the true strength of friendship in Nebraska, my first heartbreak in Virginia, and my first true love in Wyoming.
I can’t even begin to imagine how drastically different my life would be had I only lived in one of these places. This is because I have the heart and life of a traveler. A lot of people ask me how I’ve moved so much; I wonder how they haven’t.
As I assimilate into each new environment, I always find awe in the uniqueness of the lifestyle and wish I had forever been a part of it. After so many years of hearing others say they’re “so tired of it” and “ready to get out”, I realized this wonder is only because I wasn’t “forever a part of it”. I’m able to see past the motions and appreciate the beauty of all places and cultures.
I’m not saying I don’t value the idea of a stable home and investment in a community. I’m also not saying traveling to other countries and exploring your own isn’t important, and I can’t wait to have money to do so.
However, the best advice I can give someone is to not be afraid to truly explore. Not just for a week. Sometimes in the midst of discomfort and stark deviation, we find ourselves. I know I have.
Cover photo: 10-year-old me in Manzanita, Oregon