Traveling for self-discovery? Is it a myth?
In our previous post, we talked briefly about self-discovery and some questions you could ask to get to know yourself better.
Nonetheless, there are multiple ways you can enrich your self-discovery process. My favorite one?: traveling.
You’ve probably watched the film Eat, Pray & Love, or read a book about how traveling can be life-changing. Although most media representations follow a cliché (usually the development of a romantic relationship), there is an undeniable truth behind traveling: it is eye-opening.
Although self-discovery involves knowing who you already are in your current circumstances, I believe it is also about finding out who you could be (something we usually aren’t aware of). There isn’t a better scenario to expose what we are capable of than a new city or country.
Not sure how it can help? Here are the reasons why you should be traveling for self-discovery.
Traveling for Self-discovery and it’s benefits
Accentuate your identity
There isn’t a better way to understand who you are than to be around those you consider different. Every time we step out of our countries, we take with us our cultural baggage, our beliefs, and our preferences.
By exposing ourselves to different people, we accentuate parts of our personality as we understand how we are different and what makes us who we are.
At the same time, we open up to embrace parts of that new culture as we witness they are humans too.
Simply put, you learn what makes you different from them but you also find “the other” to be a human you can relate to, and therefore you lose (or at least you are supposed to) your prejudices and your fears.
Overcoming fears and insecurities
There is something about being in a foreign country that brings out the bravest person in you. Think about it! You need to ask people for directions, eat foot that you probably don’t recognize, and take public transportation to get to a location you’ve never been to.
If it was your city, you’ve probably would follow your usual routine, but when you are out there (especially if you go on a solo trip), you have to make way for yourself. You are constantly taking a leap of faith.
Back in South Korea, I lost my way multiple times. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel fear. I felt capable of finding my way back, even if I had to ask for directions with my poor Korean skills.
Traveling for self-discovery, makes you see that you are capable of much more than you thought.
You make friendships that trespass boundaries
Do you have a hard time making friends? Or so do you believe? Traveling will show you otherwise.
Usually, when we make friends, we look for people that are similar to us. In a foreign country, your “standards” for a friend change. When you travel, you’ll be surprised by how different types of people will want to befriend you.
Moreover, you’ll want to stay friends with that person even if there’s a whole ocean in between. You become friends based on the experiences you live together more than the similarities between you.
This is probably the best consequence of traveling for self-discovery. When you go on a solo trip or a long term trip, you detach yourself from the people and the things you were dependant on.
If you always relied on someone for asking directions, managing a budget, and organizing your day, when you embark on a trip, you oblige yourself to do everything on your own.
Consequently, people learn they are able to manage their finances, organize their day, and find their own places to eat.
You are alone with your capacities and you become the owner of your actions and decisions.
While traveling, you realize you don’t need somebody to manage your life, you are capable of doing it yourself.
Test your flexibility
Have you ever thought “I would never…” or “I can’t do that”?
I have done it many times. A while back, I thought I would never be able to sleep in a room with strangers. But I did. Back in South Korea, I spend most of my time in a hostel, where strangers slept in the same room and showered in the same bathroom as I did.
I realized I was perfectly able to do it. In fact, I loved it.
When people step out of their comfort zone, they notice how flexible they truly are and how they can do things they originally thought they couldn’t.
Traveling lays out the perfect scenario for exposing yourself to experiences that will enrich your personality.
Is traveling for self-discovery real?
Traveling for self-discovery is real and possible. While you must start the process of self-discovery in your current circumstances, when you travel, you step out of those circumstances and comfort zone to discover parts of you that were always there. By traveling you are forcing them to come out.
In a different country, you accentuate your identity when you interact with those who are different from you and, at the same time, you embrace those new sides of you that surface.
So, how can it not be considered a way of enlightenment?
My friend, don’t doubt it. If you embark on a trip (better if it is a solo trip for a long time), you’ll learn more about yourself than ever.