As I write this piece, I am on a plane coming back from Iceland. I am the most sleep deprived I’ve ever been, I am wearing the same clothes I flew to Iceland in and I am pretty sure I am getting sick but my goodness…it was the best trip of my entire life.
Let’s take a step back to find out how I ended up in Iceland. In January of 2016, I was sitting at a restaurant in New York City at 2 in the morning with my friends Pooja and Vance. Pooja mentioned she was going to Iceland in a few months and invited us both to come. We said we’d love to go but I wrote it off in my mind because I did not think I would actually go.
Fast forward 1 month later, Pooja let’s me know she booked her tickets and wanted to know if I was coming. At the beginning of the year I had promised myself I would no longer make excuses on why I could not not travel. I am 21 and need to take advantage of the lack of responsibility I have in my life. I will not be in this position forever and I need to take advantage of it. With that being said, I was left with 2 choices:
So how was Iceland? It was the most beautiful country I have ever visited. It was like something out of a movie. We drove all around the country and at one point there would be rocks and moss everywhere, the next minute we were right in the middle of a snow storm, drive a little farther and we were on top of rushing waterfalls, drive a little past that and we were having snow ball fights on glaciers. Words are useless, pictures give a glimpse of it’s beauty. The only thing I can say is GO TO ICELAND. Trust me…you won’t regret it.
Now, on to what I learned from my trip to Iceland:
Too often, when we try something new we go into that situation with preconceived judgments based off people we talk to or things we see. I had never been to Iceland before so when I did research I heard everything from it’s the best country in the world to I should never go visit.
Before I left, I promised myself I would have no expectations for the country based on other’s opinions. This allowed me to not be disappointed if it did not live up to my expectations. It’s one of the first times I’ve done this on a trip and it made the trip 10 times better because I was able to enjoy each new experience.
There is only 1 person in your life that can make your life incredible. That person is you. During the trip I posted photos and videos on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. I received numerous messages of people saying, “Your trip looks incredible!” “I wish I could do that!” “I want to have your life!” Guys let me be clear. I am not rich, I am not staying in 5-star hotels, and I am not booking these adventures through some crazy expensive travel agency (Although Pooja and Connie did plan an awesome trip and could easily start their own agency!)
You can have these adventures too. You just have to go out and do it. Traveling to an unknown country is a scary thing to do but the pros will always outweigh the cons (if you have the right attitude). The only person that can change your life is you so get off your ass and start making your epic adventures happen. The way I approach life now is, “What are the stories I want to tell my grandchildren?” I want to inspire them to see the world, meet as many people as possible and make the most of what the world has to offer. If I want them to live life that way then I need to live life the same way. That’s the legacy I want to leave.
Many people know this but I broke up with my girlfriend of 5 year’s in January of 2016. It has been the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. We’ve been broken up for almost 3 months and have not spoken once. I could sit here and say that I am doing fine but that would be a lie. I’ve coped in extremely unhealthy ways, I’ve had countless sleepless nights and I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster that does not seem to end.
In fact, the week leading up to Iceland might have been one of the hardest weeks yet. However, there is something about throwing snow balls at your friends on top of a glacier in Iceland that gets your mind off of your struggles.
Whether you’ve lost someone in your life, having trouble in your relationship, lost your job or suffering from depression, I urge you to plan a trip somewhere and break up the monotony that many people find themselves in on a daily basis. You don’t have to go away for weeks; I was only in Iceland for 5 days. I do believe it should be somewhere you haven’t been before and make sure you are doing physical activity while you are out there. It’s good for you mentally, emotionally and physically. Keep in mind, going away did not get rid of the pain. I still thought about the break up many times on my trip but it’s the most I’ve been able to get it off my mind in a long time.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Not many people know this (other than my wonderful Mother) but I HATE trying new things and being away from home. Seriously, I hate it. When I find something I like, I sink my teeth into it and don’t try anything else. For example, I am terrified of ever moving out of Atlanta because I don’t want to start over (That will need to be another blog post). From a young age, I did not try new foods, I hated traveling and I hated being away from home for long periods of time.
However, the other side to my personality is that I am obsessed with facing and overcoming challenges. At age 16, I challenged myself to go to Beijing, China on a 2 week trip in order to push myself out of my comfort zone and experience the world. This was the catalyst for the mindset of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Was Iceland hard to be in? No way.
The people I stayed with are incredible, the Airbnb was gorgeous and the country is breathtaking. Regardless, I am a little baby inside and will always miss home. Even as I type this, I am headed to Boston for the evening to hang out with my friend and then I spend 3 days in Indiana celebrating my friend’s 21st birthday. What I want to do is take a direct flight to Atlanta and sleep for 36 hours but that would be doing what is comfortable. EVERY single time I do something uncomfortable; incredible, life changing experiences come out of it. Is this a coincidence? I think not. You get out of life what you put into it. Start putting some uncomfortable sauce into yours.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the wonderful people I went on this trip with:
Finally, my 3 questions to whoever is reading this is simple:
1. When is your next trip?
2. Where is your next trip?
3. Why haven’t you booked it?
I am a woman in the world—single and powerful and astonished at my ability to create my own security, “in brave and extraordinary search for my own shape.”-Mary Helen Washington
Self-esteem shatters to the floor like shards of glass, the weight of a lifetime of insecurities trampling down over a fragile identity. You feel defeated. You feel unworthy and alone. It’s no surprise you lose yourself.
I’ve been there, done that and I’m proud. Proud because hurting is what causes us to grow, to reevaluate our sense of self. To feel deeply, love deeply, and hurt deeply are the most tangible evidence we have of our humanness.
There are so many reasons why we often feel inadequate. Perhaps you struggle to overcome past circumstances or continually compare yourself to others’ unattainably high standards. Perhaps, no matter how hard you try, you fight an uphill battle for happiness. No matter where you turn, all roads lead deeper into a whirlpool of self-loathing.
You extend beyond any definition, label, or role that another assigns to you. Believe in your own strength and be proud of what you have accomplished. What is meant to be will be. What is not, will not. Hold things in your memory, untarnished and not bitter, to live there always. Trust in the ways of the world. Nothing truly matters except your happiness—go on a pilgrimage to find it. Just you and the world, spinning in space together, your own best friend and lover.
Be complete with that.
You don’t need anyone else in this world. With all your might reject the stigma that to be happy you must be in partnership with another. Those who discard you and hurt you are unworthy of your efforts and your time. Be okay with emptying the trash before it stinks, with washing the plates before they grow mold, stacking them cleanly on the shelf beside your memories.
Because at the end of the day, when all the cards have been played and all the people long gone, the only companion you are promised for life…is yourself.