I read a statistic in The New York Times once that among first-time travelers, 37% were traveling solo, and the trend is only rising.
As a single, 28-year-old, I get it. I fit the core demographic that most travel agencies are targeting these days. I’m sure an anthropologist somewhere has done research and can explain this trend, but I can only speak for myself.
I crave adventure.
At least, that’s what I want people to think. In a sense, yes – I’m like most people who travel, I want to see the world, experience new things, and meet amazing people, but I think it goes a little deeper than that for me. I’m the type of person that simply cannot do the same thing for too long. Let’s take a look at my track record, shall we? In college, I changed majors 3 times, I haven’t stayed in the same house/apartment since I moved back from China 4 years ago, and…well, no, I’m not even going to get started on my dating life.
Most people look at that and say that I either have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) or I’m the type of person that constantly thinks, “the grass is always greener…”
I would argue that neither of those things is true. I believe the reason I continue jumping from place to place, person to person, major to major…is that I’m still searching for who I am. Yes, this is me confessing to the world that at 28 years old, I still have no idea who I am. I have an idea of who I thought I was going to be at this point. When I was 18, I had it all planned out. By 24, I was going to be married with 3 kids, and we were going to live in a small town near Sterling. Wait…or was it by 24 I was going to be single living in a loft in New York City? No, no, no…I remember now, by 24 I was going to be saving the world. Yep, that was it.
If you don’t know me, let me just fill you in…NONE OF THOSE THINGS HAPPENED. And you know what? I’m so glad they didn’t. Up to this point, my life has not panned out the way I thought it would at all. And that’s both scary and liberating to me. It’s scary because deep down, I need to know what the next step is going to be. I get intense anxiety when I can’t see the next step. But that’s also what’s so liberating. It’s not in my control. As I look back on my life, I can see that God’s plan was way different and way better than mine. Sure, there were times of refinement. Did I really want to move 7,000 miles away from everything I knew right after graduation? No. But God knew I needed it. And looking back, I knew I needed it to. In fact, I jokingly told God one night that he’s going to have to relocate me to a different country if I was ever going to kick my immature, college habits. I just wasn’t expecting Him to actually open the right doors for that to happen, even though I think we both know that’s exactly what I needed.
Since then, it’s hard to not see His blessings sprinkled throughout my life. China was hard, but the fruits are still blossoming and are still very sweet. And it bore inside of me this yearning to travel, because it took traveling to a completely different country to be the closest I’ve ever been to God. The pangs of homesickness, the frustration of not knowing the language, the anxiety of teaching 80+ college students a day, and the fear of getting lost in a big city are all things I struggled with. And those aren’t minor struggles. But I didn’t have my regular posse to lean on, considering the 14-hour time difference. Some days I felt utterly alone. And those were the days that God drew me closest to Him. Those were the days that I let my guard down and said, “Okay God, I get it. You can take over from here.”
The lessons I learned and the person God shaped me to be in China, I will always carry with me.
So, instead of saying that I crave adventure, I think the reason why I travel is because, honestly, it reminds me of a time when I felt closest to God. And we need that every now and then. It’s easy to let the day-to-day drag us down – sometimes we just need a getaway with our Father. And when you’re driving 8 1/2 hours in a car, hashing things out with God is honestly the best therapy you can ask for.
I realize not many people will probably read this blog, but Thank You to the ones that do. Journaling helps me sort through things, and something I’ve realized with age – we’re never alone in our struggles. God is always with us (that’s a given) but sometimes it’s nice to know that there are other people experiencing the same highs and lows that we are. I thought I would have had it all figured out by now, but I’m happy to say that I don’t. And hopefully you don’t either 🙂