Traveling doesn’t always “just happen.” Sometimes, life gets in the way. Plans change; the ‘rug’ gets pulled out from under your feet. And while posting solely about positive experiences is fun, and makes my life look beautifully airbrushed, it’s not realistic.
The facts are: sometimes I feel like God’s directions for my life are like a GPS that drives you into a lake, instead of to your destination. There are times when I’ve wanted so badly to go somewhere that I sat on my bed crying. Times I’ve been tugged in one direction, and then detoured a different way – my soul feeling whip-lashed.
But when this happens, I challenge myself to change my perspective. Yes, maybe the road turned out to be a roundabout, and that’s really frustrating when I thought I was going somewhere new.
But, sometimes, God uses déjà-vu situations to remind us of his promises before he takes us to bigger and better things.
Like, when I was picking a university to transfer to. I thought of applying to so many schools in so many amazing places (London, Norway, Tennessee) that when I got into my first pick I was elated. But, as quickly as they had been made, plans changed just weeks before school started, and I ended up at a university in my hometown of Seattle, instead. I was so upset that I didn’t get to go somewhere new or exotic. But, looking back now, I realize that I was placed exactly where I needed to be, to grow into the person I am now.
An ongoing lesson I’m learning is that there aren’t really “wrong” paths. When you come to a crossroads, sometimes you just have to trust that you’re following the GPS, and take a chance. Life is filled with different decisions, learning experiences, mistakes and successes – and, sometimes, making the decision to take a step forward is the hardest part. Especially if the answer to where to go next isn’t even on your radar.
For instance, when I was trying to decided where to move after living in California, I didn’t sleep for weeks. I had no idea what direction to head in. But, as the deadline neared, Georgia kept popping in my mind. Finally, I decided to visit my family there (people I barely knew), and the minute I bought the plane ticket, I had complete peace from all the anxiety I had been experiencing.
The whole time I had been freaking out about whether to move back to Seattle or stay in California, the answer was actually to do neither. Visiting my family, at that time, was exactly where I needed to be. Eventually I did come back to Seattle, but it was important for me to pick up a few life tools on the way. Learning to value family (no matter how estranged) and the beauty of my heritage, was a lesson I needed to realize before I could move forward in my life here.
Sometimes, the longest detours are the most direct routes to the future successes we have awaiting us on the horizon.
I’ve known my entire life that I wanted to go to the UK/Ireland (when I was 10 I BEGGED my mom to take me to Riverdance to feed my addiction – which she did), but it took me FOUR TRIES to actually get there. Not because I wasn’t putting forth effort, believe me I was, but because life consistently just didn’t allow me to go.
On my way back from India, I thought about running away the entire time I was stuck in the Heathrow airport (layover). My 18 year old self felt so drawn to the UK, and it broke my heart when I boarded the US bound plane, after being so close.
The next year, after I graduated, I immediately started thinking about how I could get to the UK/Ireland. Every year, for three years I had people say they would go with me, only to pull out last minute. It was the most frustrating experience to repeatedly have to shelve my plans to travel. But, ultimately, I valued my trip so much more when I actually got the chance to go. And, in addition, I was empowered by striking out on my own to get there.
Sometime it takes a while to get where we want to go. And sometimes we never get there at all.
When I was in high school there was a church trip to Uruguay that I wanted to go on more than anything. I worked my butt off to raise the funds, and even started learning Spanish (which I hated). Everything in my mind said to go. But, when it came down to it, my family decided I couldn’t. I was devastated. But, you know what? From that experience, I learned how to work toward something that I passionately cared about. I learned to apply myself, and that work ethic has carried over as I continue to dream of traveling.
Sometimes, life is unexpected.
When I look back and see all the things I’ve been able to do, the memories are so much sweeter because of the failures I’ve had in contrast. It’s a lesson that’s unpopular to learn, but failure is not inherently bad. It means that you aspired to something greater than what you had. You dared to dream bigger than yourself, and think outside the box. And, from where I’m standing, that is nothing to be ashamed of but, rather, commended.
So, risk big! Dare to dream and don’t be discouraged if you fall flat on your face. No one is born inherently successful, it takes time, energy and commitment to what you love.
To borrow some favorite lyrics from a hometown boy: