For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of traveling all over the world. My dream was not to spend 4 years in college, only to work in an office 300 days a year. It was to be a writer and photographer; to bring faraway places into the homes and minds of those people who were working in offices; in skyscrapers far above the roads they weren’t traveling on.
When I was around 20 years old, I tried to talk my best friend into going to Europe with me. We were riding in the car with our mothers at the time. My mother backed me up, exclaiming the great adventures we would have together as single, young women in such beautiful places as Paris, Venice, and Monaco. Seeing my friends excitement, her mother immediately shut the idea down, saying that we should wait until we were married and then would have our husbands protect us as we travelled. My mother gave me the look to let this one go, as though she could tell my strong opinions were about to boil over.
When we stopped for gas, my mother got out of the car, and I immediately spoke up. “I’ve been traveling for years. It’s not about having a husband to protect you, it’s about being smart; about watching over each other and looking out for yourself.” My friends mother responded that she didn’t want her daughter to have the same outlook on travel that I had; which was (in her opinion) that I had no home, and that I don’t develop any lasting relationships because I’m never anywhere long enough to.
At the time I was too enraged by her ignorant comment to respond, but now I realize that no response would have been better than J. R. R. Tolkien’s, Not all who wander are lost. That is the only explanation needed, and that anyone who doesn’t understand the meaning of that quote is, simply, not worth trying to defend myself to.
I know what traveling has meant in my life. Experiencing cultures and meeting people from all over the world- even just the small fraction that I’ve experienced- has changed my life. I have great friends that live thousands of miles away and we have memories together that are now etched in my heart that I will always cherish.
For some, ignorance is bliss. For me, true bliss is opening up as much of myself as I possibly can before my tiny fraction of time on this earth is up.
My advice for someone who does not yet know themselves: Travel. If you can’t afford to travel yet, then read as much about the world as you can, and meet as many people as you can, especially older ones, and listen to their stories. You can only grow from this.