Traveling Is Essential In Life

Traveling Is Essential In Life

Whether it's an exhilarating European vacation or just a hike somewhere you've never been, traveling is necessary in life.

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Recently I remembered a conversation I had with a friend on the topic of traveling, in which he told me that he had no desire to visit another country. Being a self-proclaimed travel enthusiast, I was taken aback. I began to think about all the ways that traveling has affected me and other important people in my life. From family vacations to short weekend road-trips with friends, or even just a drive to the beach, most of my favorite memories have been created in places that are, at the time, new. I've had the chance to fall in love with a place and bond with others over being there together. I've grown as a result of witnessing the lives of others, no matter how similar or different they are to mine. Without these chances to travel and the memories I've made as a result, I feel I wouldn't be the person I am today. Traveling is essential in life, and here are a few reasons why:

1. The memories

Like I've said before, some of my favorite memories have been made away from home. Throughout my life, I've been lucky enough to experience both the long out-of-country vacations and just the short in-state day trips. What I've found is that no matter the cost, and no matter where you decide to go, the memories you make will always be important. So many fundamental parts of myself have been formed around the memories I've made while experiencing new places, whether it be the foods I like, the places I want to eventually live or the ways I like to spend my time. You don't need to spend tons of money on a luxurious trip either. "Travel" is really a relative term; technically, just a quick drive to a new city is considered traveling. The value of an experience is not related to how much it costs, but by how much it affects us, and I feel that the best way to find these experiences is through traveling.

2. The bonds

It really does sound cliché, but going on vacations with my family has brought us closer together. Sometimes life can feel like it's going a million miles an hour and everyone you care about seems to be going in separate directions. This is why traveling with other people is so important. Whether you spend a day tipping out of kayaks with your brothers, fishing with your dad or shopping with your mom, traveling gives you the time to reconnect with everyone who is important to you. Traveling can be a much-needed break from responsibility, which opens the door for getting back in touch with the things and people you love. The bonds you form while traveling aren't just between people, either. You can also bond with a place, a culture, or a state of mind. You can end up forming a connection to an area that you love so much, you can't help but start planning to come back. These are strong, profound connections to people and places, and traveling is the way to form them.

3. The perspective

Everybody knows that not every person in the world shares a single way of life. There are countless cultures and perspectives that might be vastly different from your own. The best way to explore these is, you guessed it, to travel. To immerse yourself in the culture of a region is to truly understand how it works. I remember the feeling of disbelief I had when I visited the Dominican Republic for a senior trip a while back. It was eye-opening to witness the way these people live, and though it was very different, it was fascinating. I find myself feeling the same way even in the more rural areas of my own state; it's always strange for me to think about people actually living in these places and not just visiting for a week. While living in the suburbs, it can be easy to forget that not everyone shares the same midwestern way of life. Traveling puts all of this in perspective and acts as a reminder that the world is full of beautiful cultures and people and that it's waiting to be explored.

Traveling, in itself, can seem like a very simple and menial thing, but it's not. Traveling keeps the world small and connected while simultaneously building connections that span across border lines and oceans. Traveling is essential in life.

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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Coming To Terms With Bad Friendships Was What Brought Back My Happiness

Life has a funny way of slapping you upside the head giving you whiplash from time and expectations.

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If you would have told me a year ago that my life would look the way it does right now, I would have been dumbfounded, but now I am relieved.

I definitely couldn't have anticipated the drastic changes that I've had to endure or the magnitude of who I once was compared to who I am now. When I step back and disassociate from myself, I can't help but feel like my life has been turned upside. Luckily for me, though, it definitely was for the better.

It's known that time changes people and situations. I had plans of what I expected this year to look like and who I would spend it with. I spent the last three years of college building up to a moment, and this current moment looks nothing like that dream.

I expected to be friends with the people I had around me since freshman year. I expected to live in the same apartment I had slept in for the past two years. I expected parties, daily hangouts with friends and I imagined this blissful senior year picture marked by wine nights and pillow fights with the girls I had loved most.

But life has a funny way of slapping you upside the head giving you whiplash from time and expectations.

I don't have those freshman year friends anymore. I don't have those girls who I thought would be my bridesmaids in my life anymore. I don't live in that crappy apartment, have those daily hangouts or live that life of anticipated bliss. I've had to come to the difficult realization that plans don't always follow through, but I have grown thankful that mine didn't.

Recently, I looked back on those three years and realized how much of it was a lie. When I first started going through the changes, I convinced myself that I had the time of my life during those prior years, but then I realized it – I was equally as miserable as I was happy.

For every good day with my friends, there was a bad one. It's easy to forget and block out all the terrible memories because you don't want to believe they actually happened. In my head, I would play a supercut of all the best moments and leave out all of the terrible scenes that made me feel miserable.

I forgot that feeling of needing to walk on eggshells to preserve the feelings of someone who didn't care about mine.

I forgot the endless battles of bending over backward for friends who wouldn't walk an inch to help me when I was in need.

I forgot the constant crying and heartwrenching confessions to my mom of how badly I would feel secluded when these friends would show they didn't value my friendship anymore.

I forgot that instant ache I felt in my heart the moment I realized I was replaced by someone else.

I forgot a lot and I believe I subconsciously did it on purpose. I tried to save my heart from reliving those painful memories and years of working tirelessly for nothing. I wanted to blame myself for everything that happened in hopes of finding any type of answer or conclusion for why it all took place. It was easier for me to rest it all on my shoulders than to blame the people I thought would never want to hurt me.

In my 21st year of life, I've had to actually come to the conclusion that people aren't what you expect them to be. Just because you paint them as the epitome of sisterhood does not mean that is what they are. Holding someone on a high pedestal only makes you lose sight of the dirt on their feet and their eagerness to use you for all that you're worth.

Just because you grow up doesn't mean they will too.

Some people have no desire to grow and instead find comfort in complacency. They settle into their belief of how their life is and their image of happiness. But just because they settle doesn't mean you have to too.

I settled for the happiness my friends thought they had. I never wanted to reach further in my life out of the fear of leaving them behind. I stifled my abilities and goals to make sure we stayed on the same page and to make them feel loved. I didn't fight for my own happiness just to avoid the possibility of hurting them and making them feel anything less than adored.

Ultimately, I realized I made myself unhappy to make them happy.

Although at times I want to regret the mistake I made in trusting people who didn't my back in the long run, I've grown more as a person in the past few months than I have my entire life. I've had to learn how to pick myself up and move on, literally. I've learned to expect less from people and accept them for not only who they are but also what they're not.

I can't force people to be what I imagine as the perfect friend. I've worked on not putting all my cards in the hands of a few people and have instead spread them out into a community. I don't measure my happiness by what three friendships in my life look like anymore, but instead, how much joy I have experienced in learning from more people around me. I've opened my eyes and have stepped out of darkness, no matter how badly I wanted to stay in a cave of isolation and pain.

As much as I wanted to hate the people who failed me, I can't. I realize now that part of the problem was that I actually wanted more. I chose to hold myself back to protect people who didn't correspondingly care about protecting me, and that's what I hated most. A lot of what happened was my doing because even if it was subconsciously, I was trying too hard for people who weren't doing the same for me, and I felt disappointed. I put my eggs all in one basket and when that wicker bin dropped, I felt like every last shell shattered. The problem was that I was the only one holding that basket up and eventually, my arm got tired and gave out.

My advice to you is to pay attention to the signs. If you find that your friendships are equally as frustrating as they are rewarding, get out. Don't convince yourself to stay when you too begin to play the compilation video in your mind of all the best moments. You need to decide what is best for you before you feel like your friendships have run dry and like you have nothing left.

The grass is greener, I promise you. As someone who felt stuck living in a wasteland, I've climbed to the mountaintop and can finally breathe the fresh air. You can too.

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