Beverly Sills had said, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going”. When I see where I am now, from where I have started I cannot agree any more with her words.
I have always been keen on traveling. My mom is from another country, I grew up with a multicultural background, I surrounded myself with diversity. I never felt at home in the United States and despised the mentality where you study to graduate, graduate to work, and work to live. Our society is always breathing down our necks that if you take a step out of line, you fall behind 10 years and suddenly your ovaries are dried up filling with cobwebs and there’s $3.26 in your bank account (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you can see where I’m coming from). It’s fearful. It’s exhausting. It’s also a lie.
I graduated from university determined to break the mold and follow the beat my heart was thumping. With a degree in Psychology and a desire to help, I set off to Sri Lanka in October 2015 to work in their psychiatric hospitals, orphanages, and community centers. I left behind a boyfriend who didn’t share my colorful visions of living in other cultures or wanting to take in all that this world has to offer. He was a wonderful person. Kind, caring, and respectful. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy in the relationship until I was removed from the situation. It wasn’t that he was a terrible person, or that I was broken and disheveled. Plain and simple, it was just that we had completely different views in life that was making the both of us feel inadequate and unsatisfied. Of course, it took me the entirety of the three months I spent in Sri Lanka to figure this out.
Monks outside a Buddhist Temple in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Once my placement was over in Sri Lanka, my sister came to Southeast Asia to travel with me. I showed her Sri Lanka and we brought in the New Years drinking Lion beers with our toes in the sand. We took a car through the Sri Lankan hills to the teas plantations where I got seriously car sick and made the poor driver pull over countless times in order to vomit. We went to the Maldives riding around on the back of scooters as we befriended the natives and had them show us their homes. And as amazing as those times were, as amazing and unique as the cultures were, I don’t think anything could ever compare to Thailand.
A woman riding a bicycle through the streets of the small island Moofushi, Maldives
It’s not that I think Thai culture is better, or that the scenery is prettier. All of the countries I have traveled to have their own gems. But Thailand gave me my own personal gem. Thailand gave me my partner, Lee.
Sunset on Krabi Beach, Thailand
When you travel you are bound to meet people. Interesting people, boring people, people you kind of just want to punch in the face. And when you’re lucky enough you’ll be thrown into the path of someone who makes you feel as if all of your chips and cracks are there to let the light shine through, to show that the imperfections are uniquely beautiful, and to enlighten your mind in ways you didn’t even think was possible. I’m not saying you have to travel in order to meet your soulmate. But I am saying that traveling helps you find yourself. It’ll make you cry. It will show you your darker side. It might make you momentarily not like who you are. But in that moment you’ll find clarity and find peace. And that is progression. In a world that is so used to the ignorant humdrum lifestyle of waking up, working, and going back to sleep, having some self-clarity can really help. Ignorance is not bliss, amelioration is bliss.
All it took was two weeks in Thailand to turn my life upside-down in the best possible way. Lee and I both left with the uncertainty of what the future held, but with the determination to see how it would turn out. Since he was from the UK, and I was from the States Whatsapp soon became our best friend. In only a short few months from when we departed Asia, we were back together in the States. And then in England. Then back in the States. For the past year we spent as much time as we could traveling back and forth to each other’s prospective countries. We met families, friends, and favorite places until we decided it was time to live in the same country. And that is where we are now: New Zealand.
It’s been a long journey, but there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.