It’s 12:30am and I look out the window at a dimly lit road and manicured median. Bushy dark trees slowly move out of my eyesight as we continue onward. It’s just me, Mike and 25 strangers. We’ve put our lives in the hands of yet another bus driver. I can’t even begin to tell you how much ground we’ve covered as miles and kilometers mingle in my mind. Instead of sleeping until our 7am arrival in Chiang Mai, I’m staring out the window thinking about how cool it is to finally be in Thailand.
Sometimes, like right now, I’ll be sitting next to Mike on a bus bound for a new destination and I’ll get the chills. The kind you can feel tingling on the back of your neck. And I start thinking about our trip, everything it stands for and what a couple of badasses we are. I mean, who just hands over their resignation letter and buys a one-way ticket to Iceland? I’m proud of us for doing something so daring.
Now with 10 months of travel behind us, I get excited thinking about what I’ve done with my life. Growing up, I always heard the Goo Goo Dolls singing “Did you lose yourself somewhere out there?” in my head. And I didn’t know what that felt like, to lose yourself. Whenever I’d think about that phrase, I’d picture myself getting caught up in the thrill of life. But what that could actually entail was beyond my imagination. It was something I always wanted but had no idea how to achieve.
Last year, when Mike and I turned off the road and onto the footpath, I could feel it happening. Quitting our jobs and selling our possessions was freeing. I was starting to feel different, like I really could do anything I wanted to if I just did it. And since we’ve been on this trip, life has turned into a joyride instead of a mapped route.
I’ve lost myself. But at the same time I discovered that a new me has been developing as well: someone who is more positive, empathetic, globally educated, able to slow down, to be happy with less and to be someone who isn’t afraid of risk or the unfamiliar. I didn’t expect these changes and didn’t force myself into them either. You’re shaped by your experiences, and the past 10 months have challenged us and caused us to look at the world through a new lens.
It’s interesting to think back to before we left. Mike and I knew this trip would change us. Spending more than a year outside your comfort zone in foreign places must have some kind of impact, we thought. We were right. And while we couldn’t predict the outcome, I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.