Wanderlust is a relatively modern phenomenon. The Pinterest boards filled with pictures of foreign places, the Twitter accounts dedicated only to traveling hacks, the Instagrams documenting people’s travels around the world. It’s everywhere.
Instead of getting jobs minute they graduate college students are taking weeks, months, and even years to travel and “experience other cultures.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing on this at all. I think traveling is healthy and necessary for all people but especially young adults. It’s important because traveling forces people to look at the way other people live, it broadens horizons. There are a million clichés I could quote here but honestly one of the most important reasons to travel is it allows you to grow as a person outside of the stagnancy of your culture and the pressures of one specific place.
Think about it. Every place in the world has different standards of success, of beauty. So traveling to different places exposes you to all these ideals of perfection. For me looking at the ridiculous things that each culture thinks of as “pretty” or “ideal” opened my eyes to how ridiculous it all is. In China there is a trend going around called the “Paper Thin Challenge,” women are posting pictures holding a piece of A4 (8.3x11.7) paper in front of their waists; to qualify the waist must be completely hidden behind the paper, meaning the waist skinner than 8.3 inches. About a year ago the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge” was popular in America; girls would suck their lips into a shot glass to make them appear bigger. Beauty standards are different in every country.
You can’t meet every beauty standard and traveling forces you to be aware of this. Traveling frees you in a sense; when you are aware of your inability to be perfect for everyone you can just be yourself.
But it’s more than just realizing the differences in cultures and becoming less affected by the ridiculous standards our society forces upon us.
"Going to a different place, inserting yourself into a new culture: it allows you to experience the world from the outside looking in." That’s a direct quote from Nora Wilson, a history major here at UT Martin, who is spending 40 days in Australia upon graduation this spring.
So whenever you get the chance to travel, please do. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to 10 different countries. Now I love packing, it’s exciting to me. Whenever I'm in the car, I fall asleep because I’m reminded of when I was little and would fall asleep and wake up somewhere new. I look up trips to faraway places whenever I’m bored. My dorm room is covered in pictures and maps of foreign countries.
Wanderlust is the strong desire to travel. Wanderlust applies to people who want to experience the world through different eyes.