Bid au revoir to ‘comfort zone’ and see the world

I’ve been travelling as much as possible since the pandemic restrictions lifted, recognizing that life is short. It’s made me reflect on why I travel and what I can learn from it.

First off, I travel to see, to experience, and to taste new things. Why? Because I want to know; I want to learn. I want to actually gaze upon the landmarks that I’ve only viewed on screens or on pages. I crave newness in my life. Perhaps it is a throwback to nomadic days, but I feel the need to uproot myself and move about, if for no other reason than to appreciate home when I’m here.

I also like myself better when I’m travelling as I’m more active and exciting when I’m on an adventure. At home there is always some chore or excuse stopping me from leaving the house and finding fun, but when I’m travelling, I’m unfettered. The doldrums and fears of everyday routine often keep me magnetized to my couch, but on the road, it’s different.

If you’re only visiting a place for a short time, and you aren’t sure if and when you’ll ever be back, there is a propulsion for me to see it all and do it all. Carpe diem. I find that the idea of seizing the day, along with Nike’s “Just do it,” paired up with “you only live once,” and “when in Rome,” are a powerful cocktail to stop the fears and excuses in my head.

Granted, life itself is a limited time experience, but it would be exhausting and even unsustainable to live every day like that. Still, travel Nadine definitely has some lessons for couch potato Nadine. Travel Nadine suggests parking her laptop and getting out for a road trip or hike in her own backyard, literally or figuratively, at least once a month. Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Canada have so much to offer travellers, yet many times I hear locals say that they have never been to the places that they suggest visitors experience.

Couch potato Nadine wants to feel less irresponsible for even thinking about grabbing the brass ring locally. Like the origins of that expression, trying to grab the ring while on the merry go-round, leaning out, beyond routine and comforting safety, sometimes feels reckless, but it makes me feel alive.

I love that the sheer act of travelling pushes me out of my comfort zone. As a friend recently pointed out, especially for solo travel, it also pushes us out of others’ expectations. When travelling alone, there’s no one you need to confer with or convince of your ideas or plans for the day. It can even feel momentarily paralyzing because the slate is so blank and the only limit to what you can do is dreaming it and then getting up and doing it.

Sometimes I travel to find myself. When I start languishing, I need to fuel the withering spark inside me. I seem to have to be out of my element to do that. They say that the fish is the last one to notice the water, so perhaps that is why I have to jump fish bowls for my introspection.

Travel is a chance to learn about new places, cultures, and ourselves. It affords us the opportunity to become more tolerant of others and show ourselves more self-compassion. Granted, sometimes I use it as a distraction from something I’m struggling with, but the beauty of travel is that it is full of questions and answers, inspiration and magic, self-reflection and growth.

This summer, I wish you the nervousness of reaching for that brass ring, whether it’s in your own backyard, or across an ocean.

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