I am often asked why I travel, why I wander, why I can’t sit still. I usually respond with a one or two sentence answer–enough to answer their question but not too much to make them roll their eyes and start daydreaming. As I’ve been in South Korea for 8 months now (and still missing the 2.5 years spent in England), I have been thinking a lot about this question lately. There are many many reasons why I’m destined to wander this world…..here are a few of them:
I wander because that is who I am. I’m a wanderer through and through. My dad was in the Air Force when I was young and we lived in Maryland, Aviano, Italy and Texas during the first 7 years of my life. After leaving the Air Force, we moved to Ohio, but we moved around few more times until I graduated high school. At that time, I moved to college, my parents moved to New Jersey (and Utah afterwards) and my brother moved to California. None of us can sit still for too long and I’m proud to be in a family of explorers. In 2010 I moved to England to pursue my masters degree and am now living in South Korea. I’m not sure when (or if) I will ever find a place to ‘settle down’ and I am perfectly happy with that. My wanderlust is never ending, I wander because it is who I am.
I wander because I am curious. As far back as I can remember, I was an explorer. After seeing The Land Before Time, I wanted to be a paleontologist and after seeing the Indiana Jones movies, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I wanted to travel, dig in the dirt, and see what I could find. That sense or curiosity hasn’t left me and though I no longer want to dig in the dirt, I still want to examine the world through my camera lens.
I wander for my mental health. I was not happy living in Ohio, being stuck in an unfulfilling job and feeling like I was watching my life pass me by. Traveling is not easy, but I am infinitely happier doing so. It has it’s challenges and I find myself frustrated and often confused. Still, I feel like I am actually doing something with my life and that gives me peace. I am never happier, more relaxed, or content than when I am traveling.
I wander to be happy. I left my corporate job back in 2010 and have been exploring the world as much as I can. I returned to the US from Dec 2012-Aug 2014. Though I was glad to spend some quality time with my family (especially my niece and nephew) and friends, I was not happy. Life in the US (particularly southern Ohio) is not for me. I am not a small-town kind of girl and I do not handle drama, racism, or bigotry very well. It did not take me very long before I was yearning to get out again. Of course, I face some of the same issues while traveling, but then I simply move on and cut that (and people like that) out of my life. Life is too short to be weighed down by ignorance. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
I wander because I am restless. I want to see EVERYTHING! There are very few places that I will not (or cannot for safety reasons) go and I get yearly Spring Fever. As soon as the trees start to get leaves and the flowers start to blossom, I start daydreaming of adventure. Sometimes that adventure means moving to a new place and sometimes it simply means planning a trip. I travel because I cannot sit still in one place for too long before I want to see something else.
I wander to learn. I want to learn about the countries I visit. I want to learn about the people I meet. I am always seeking new information and new ways to use my education. I studied photography in undergrad–I want to be a better photographer. I studied Intercultural Communication for my postgrad–I want to take what I learned and examine myself and others while I travel. I never want to stop learning and growing. I wander to foster personal and professional growth.
I wander to challenge myself. Whether it is facing my fear of heights at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, stalking a she-moose down a mountainside with my dad (or playing fetch with it…long story), or expanding my sometimes-limited palette–I travel to challenge myself. Facing fear and uncertainty is not easy for anyone, but I grow dramatically through these experiences.
I no longer want to be a paleontologist or archaeologist. When people ask me what my dream is, I say I want to see as much of the world as I possibly can while I can. I wander, I mosey, I travel, and I see my dreams fulfilled.