In a short 26 years of travelling and living all around the world, I have met many people.
Amazing people. People who have shaped me and the trajectory of my life forever.
But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also shaped myself.
Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.
When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.
I see the loneliness standing on a beach in Florianopolis by myself, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.
I see meeting some incredible people along a seven day trek of one of the seven summits, and knowing that journey was really important in helping me understand what it takes to overcome challenges. And then I see myself crying in my apartment not even a year later when it felt like I wasn’t good enough to accomplish anything.
I see myself in the eyes of people who I didn’t even know for more than a day, but had told them more than I’ve told my best friends. Because travel does that to people. And because when they disappear the next day, their judgement goes with it.
I see myself utterly determined to hike one of the most glorious mountains I’ve ever seen in my life, nestled in a small village in France. And consequentially hiding away there for a week in a hotel all by myself because it was the first time I really felt comfortable with who I was and I didn’t want to lose that feeling.
I see myself in my front yard in Korea, holding up 4 fingers to tell my Dad how old I was when he was testing out his new video recorder, with absolutely no idea that Korea wasn’t really home for my family.
I have never been one to travel too glamorously, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort rather the experiences.
It’s about discovering new scents, mountains, and views that take your breath away. But then also finding comfort in the familiar patterns of the sunrise and sunset when you feel far away from anything familiar.
It’s about how cold the air hits your lungs and makes you feel alive, how icy the trails are, how numb your fingers are, but you never want to leave those silent moments where everything feels exactly as it should be and there are no expectations of you other than your own.
It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the hikes– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.
When you remember all the moments that shaped you– the moments you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And then you want to do it over and over again for the rest of your life.