And we are back! Back in Switzerland, back on here, back to planning more adventures (what can I say, my feet are still as itchy as ever).
But before embarking on another big trip, I’ve been digesting and reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way (so far, that is). While there’s more to it, in practicing the art of being concise, I’ve tried to boil it down to one place and one lesson I learned during my time there.
One Place, One Lesson
Every step counts. Keep moving, even if it feels slow and you need to take lots of breaks. You’re getting one step closer to your destination, bit by bit. In this case, literally. I felt this throughout, but most intensely while trekking up to the highest point of our trek: Kalappathar Peak (5545m). It was 4am, the sun still hidden behind the horizon, and we set off in the cold darkness. I’ve never walked so slowly in my life, or shivered under so many layers. But we kept at it. And made it.
The power of the mind. Let it go, whatever you’re bothered by, it will pass – often with just a conscious breath. I remember sitting in class, eyes closed, focusing on my breath, and feeling a prickling sensation on the tip of my nose. Was this my Prana (life force) at work? Some more prickling and movement, I deduced it was a fly who’d decided it was the perfect landing spot. I was about to open my eyes, break my flow, and swat it away. No, wait. What have we been learning this whole time? I made the conscious decision to mentally observe it, and then let it pass. Suddenly, no matter what the fly did, as it buzzed around my head, it could not bother me, could not get me out of this calm.
Ingenuity and human survival instinct. There is always a solution to be found, if we look in all directions. We visited the Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels built by the Viet Cong in their war efforts. Despite scarcity and sickness, they found solutions to problems like preventing smoke detection above ground when cooking. Impressive would be an understatement, it served as a reminder of what we can accomplish with determination, despite and as a result of difficult circumstances.
The strength of friendships. They say friendship never dies. You know that feeling when you meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in way too long, and yet it feels as if you saw them yesterday? You laugh about old jokes and new ones take their place naturally in your conversations. It still feels like you’re a part of each other’s daily lives. You know their new friends, their family is your family, and you support each other no matter what (even if it’s in the form of a reality check). These are the kinds of bonds that hold throughout a lifetime, and these are the ones I’m determined to build and nurture.
Embrace your inner child and have fun. My 26th birthday was spent having a fruit-themed party, playing kids’ games, laughing hysterically with people I care about deeply. It was carefree and creative. We were present and playful, unashamed of making mistakes while playing party games, taking risks for a chance to win small prizes, getting creative to have the best costume. While there is a time for everything, this moment embracing our inner kids was one I will never forget and I know I’m better for it.
Where To From Here?
In the short term, I’m focusing on enjoying the present and making the most of whatever comes my way. Catching up with friends and family, trying to spend as much time as I can outdoors, reading, reflecting and exchanging, being present.
How about for the rest of the year? One thing that’s clear to me is that I’m not done travelling just yet. But my plans have changed a little bit. Instead of heading to South America, I find myself drawn back to Asia, and especially the Philippines.
I’ve also found myself wondering “Why?” and “What if…” a lot these days. And so this exploration has taken me from experiencing countries to a more entrepreneurial curiosity. For now, here’s to keeping an open mind.
A Final Lesson: That First Step
A last one for the road, which has only felt truer since getting back. To anyone on that edge and doubting their first step in any endeavour, start.
Tell a close friend about it, get a piece of paper and scribble it down, google it, whatever it is, it’s taking you that little bit closer to where you want to be. If anything, it will clarify whether it’s something you really want, or if it is not quite what you had imagined. It’s the go decision that feels the hardest, but every subsequent step becomes easier. That’s how I feel about this blog, or embarking on this year of exploration, or trying a pole dancing class (which led me to try aerial silks, which I ended up enjoying more)… the list goes on.
No wonder Nike’s slogan is so successful, it keeps coming back to me. But when those words aren’t enough, my favorite way of getting out of my head and just doing it, is courtesy of Mel Robbins’ 5-Second Rule. Start counting down from 5 to 1 and then GO: Publishing, turning up, asking, whatever it might be. It might not be perfect, and that is a-okay.
If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. – Reid Hoffman, Co-founder LinkedIn
That’s it for now! Let me know what you think and if you have any podcasts or books on entrepreneurship, send them my way : )
I’ll be writing up a couple of posts about the places I’ve visited, experiences, food, and all that fun stuff, and of course, if you’re curious about my days, past, present, and future, you can find it on Instagram, which I’ve adopted to share shorter, more frequent updates.
Coming soon → Nepal: Trekking to Everest Base Camp