I think I always knew that I was meant to travel and be a citizen of the world. When I was ten years old, my grandparents retired and started traveling. They’d come back with stories from Portugal, China, Australia, and every place in between. My sister and I would end up with alpaca slippers from Peru and goatskin bags from Greece and stories of food and language and people and history that we could never have learned in a classroom.
Growing up in a suburb of pre-Disney Orlando was not a cosmopolitan experience. The biggest event of our lives then was the weekend trip to the mall, public pool, or roller skating rink. So the travel stories we heard from Mari and Poppop, as we called them, were exceptional. It was those stories that fueled my wanderlust.
I’m so grateful to them for inspiring me and encouraging my desire to see the world. I see now that because of their showing me that travel could be a fun adventure that it didn’t ever seem like a risk, but more of a lifestyle option. My first trip out of the country was at 15 to Acapulco, Mexico. Moving to Japan right out of college to be an English teacher seemed easier to me than staying put. Moving to Poland to do the same thing just two years later was easier still.
Now, sitting in a juice bar in Tbilisi, Georgia, listening to 90s hiphop, I am reminiscing over how I ended up here. It’s been because of the family and friends in my life who encouraged my passion for seeing the world.
They have understood how much joy my travel lifestyle brings and they want to support that. I’ve gotten fun care packages of crazy Halloween decorations, candy, and Starbucks coffee. (There’s no Starbucks in Georgia.) Emails and Instagram comments and messages come in daily asking about what I’m up to and what life is like wherever I am. It’s as if my journey is allowing them to travel too. To come with me in a way.
For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me. That the reason I jumped from one career to another, or from country to country was because I just didn’t fit in. Turns out it’s just the way I operate normally. I have a ton of energy and pour it into my environment, soaking up information wherever I am until I hit a kind of learning curve at about three months. Then I’m ready to move on to the next experience, the next language, the next country. I love that about myself.
The desire to keep exploring may end one day and I’ll decide to turn inward for a while. I’d be all right with that as long as I can keep learning.
Now, in a season of gratitude, the freedom I feel while traveling, working remotely from wherever I find myself is all because of the people in my life who were for me, and for that, and for embracing who I am. And it is for them that I am truly grateful.