On May 27th I packed my bags and headed to London Heathrow to fly home. I had successfully been in England for 10 days. After a 10 hour flight I was back in the United and through customs. I had accomplished, at not yet 22-years-old, my first trip by myself.
A lot of words could be used to describe my trip: scary, exciting, thrilling, terrifying, adventurous, amazing, relaxing, tiring, educational. And yet, when I boarded the plane to head home I was filled with as many mixed emotions as I was when I left. I was ready to sleep in my own bed, to see my friends and my family, to wash my clothes. But, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay. To see more. To keep going. It was a sensation I had never felt before. Normally at the end of a vacation I was ready to be home. It was time. But, this trip was different. England had not only satisfied my travel bug it had also augmented it. I wanted more.
But, when it all boiled down, I had to return to reality.
People often return from trips abroad with a list on how it’s changed them. I often find it cliché. And yet, I would be amiss if I said the trip did not influence me.
Without unveiling too much about myself I can say that I’m not typically known to be filled with much self-confidence. I don’t know if it was because I was there by myself or if I was trying to prove something to myself, but I can say with certainty that something about my trip to England has filled me with confidence. I’m not seeping with confidence, I still question my judgment, and I’m sure if I was asked I would be certain to say someone else would be better suited for a job than myself. But, I am more confident, if not in my abilities than simply in myself. I proved to myself what people had been telling me for years: that I was independent. I proved to myself that I could hop on a plane, and go to a foreign country by myself, paying for it by myself. I’m confident I can work to do what I’ve always wanted to do: travel, photograph, and write.
I would probably be described as high maintenance and high stress. I don’t care how minor the details or how minor the situation, but I stress out about what is going on. And yet, since returning from England, I’m a bit more zen. I’ve started living by the principle that everything will work itself out in the end rather than the idea that everything has an immediate solution I need to figure out. Traveling does that to everyone though. You can plan and plan and plan, but something will happen, like a camera breaking, or a bus running late, and you realize that not everything works out the way you planned. It doesn’t work out the way you planned but the world still continues to spin round and round; the sky doesn’t coming tumbling down. Living in the moment is actually ok, it is actually more rewarding.
I went to England. I went, I saw, and I conquered. And now, I am back the US, living moment by moment. Wishing I was still there or still travelling. Thinking about where I want to go next.
Everyone should travel somewhere. Another state, another country, another continent. Travelling doesn’t just teach you about other cultures and other histories. It teaches you about yourself.
I paid for the trip myself. I planned the trip myself. I went by myself. But, I would be amiss if I didn’t take a minute to acknowledge the people who encouraged me to go and who helped me along the way, and who will continue to help me throughout my life.
The typical suspects are of course my family. My parents: When I called and said I wanted to go to England after graduation, by myself, they didn’t discourage me but encouraged me go. Always pushing me to not put my dreams on hold but to push for them. Telling me more than once how proud they were of me for doing what I was doing. My sister, brother-in-law and niece, who like my parents, continually tell me to pursue my dreams, helping me along with details and plans when necessary.
When she heard I was interested in going to England, Lizzie (and of course Satchel) helped me to plan the length and the potential stops along the way. She coordinated details with me and my godfather so that I could have place to stay after I left London. Her help truly made the trip what it was. Additionally I must thank my godfather, Uncle Ian, for letting me sleep at his place during the second half of the trip, giving me time to not only catch up with him, but to see some truly remarkable sites. My Uncle Gary and cousin Casey, for checking-in on me while I was in London and spending an evening getting dinner and catching up after much too long of a separation.
Not one of my friends shouted down the idea of what I did. They encouraged me. They provided suggestions. They told me how brave they thought I was. Brittany, Katie C., Katie M., Stephanie, Matt, Forrest, Waheeda, Denise, Mandie, Cade, just to name a few (and I’m sure I’m accidentally forgetting others as well). Constantly asking me about my plans, immediately asking me how the trip was. Without their encouragement, photos of some of their trips, and their ideas, the trip would not have been possible. Even though I was often alone their stories and help, often made it feel like they were there with me.
I may not have seen everything I wanted to see or been there as long as I wanted to be, but it was a trip of a lifetime.