Without question, my mom has been the biggest influencer on who I am today. I blame her for getting me 'infected' with the travel bug. I was 16 and my mom was sending me to London to study for the summer. I DID NOT WANT TO GO. I had a different vision of my sweet-sixteen summer. It involved getting my driver's license, sunny California beach days with my friends, cheerleading, being 'cool.' I remember the anguish so distinctly. The crying, the shouting 'It's not fair!', the journal entries that always included, 'she just doesn't understand.'
Fast forward to today, I think back at that summer and I cringe with embarrassment but I also gush with gratitude towards my mother for being bold enough to ignore my tantrums. It honestly was the best summer of my life. It was the summer I learned that I could do anything. I flew solo for the first time, I navigated the Tube, I made friends from around the world, I bargained for my first pair of Doc Martins in Camden Town, I learned to drink red wine in Hyde Park. I learned to read a map, convert money, to ask for help and in return help others.
My life, from that pivotal point on, has been marked by travel milestones. Everything from my professional achievements to my personal growth has been influenced by the journeys I have taken and these three lessons from my mom.
Lesson 1 | Get out of your comfort zone
When a mama bird nudges her chick out the nest, it's because she instinctively knows they need to learn to fly.
All progress in life happens in the space outside of your comfort zone. Fact. Think about your life. Your greatest achievements, your moments of pride, your milestones - did they come about when you were settled and comfortable in your safe zone? Probably not. I use this photo of me at 16 as a constant reminder that being uncomfortable doesn't mean being miserable.
When I find myself stuck in fear or draped in self-doubt, I think about all the times I've navigated streets where I had no clue of my surroundings or when I had to communicate without knowing the language or come up with a solution when nothing was going my way. In those moments, when I am travelling, I am determined to make it. I make peace with the discomfort and it works in all areas of my life when I need to persevere.
Thanks mom for pushing me out the nest.
Lesson 2 | Walk in someone else's shoes
When you can see the world from a different perspective, you vision becomes wise.
We were just outside Dusseldorf, Germany. It was on this trip, my mom instilled in me the importance of being grounded and observing life from a local's perspective. We stayed in a family-run bed and breakfast in a local neighbourhood. We ate at local restaurants and markets. We took all the local means of transportation. It is still such a distinct memory as we sat on the local bus, with my mom leaning over and whispering into my ear, "Now you see how the people here live every day. You see their life."
This was a moment of clarity for me. To this day when I travel, I do what I can to be immersed in the local life and to be aware. Somehow, even in the nicest of hotels or restaurants, you will find me more at ease with the housekeepers, bartenders, servers, and taxi drivers. For me, that's what makes my travel transformative. This way of thinking also permeates into my everyday way of thinking. Strive to see the world from all angles to get the full picture.
Thanks mom for making me take the bus.
Lesson 3 | Just take the chance
The answer will always be no, if you don't create the opportunity for it to be yes.
We were on our way to Italy. We were at the airport HOURS ahead of time. I don't even know how we ended up at the business class lounge of United Airlines but there we were, at the entrance. My mom started to walk in and I promptly warned her that it was not for us. I am not sure if she didn't hear me or if she just plain ignored me but she kept walking. Walked right in like she owned it.
Take chances. This is still a hard lesson for me. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't. I find that when I just trust my instincts it's easier but often the thoughts in my head create serious roadblocks. It's in those moments of inaction that I envision my mom just walking in. Not with attitude, not with delusions, but with purpose. If it's for you, the universe will conspire to make it work so take the chance.
Thanks mom for walking the walk.