Happy New Year, ATWGs! I hope you brought in 2014 with style and grace. While you were partying and enjoying the festivities, I was thinking up ways to make this blog and its content more valuable to you, my readers. So, I went back to the drawing board and started with the reason I began this blog in the first place. My goal was to “take an introspective (and sometimes funny) look at travel and the lessons we learn from those experiences.” I wanted this blog to go beyond the routine of travel (e.g. I ate at this restaurant and visited this historical place) and delve into those light bulb moments that occur when we’re faced with different cultures and new experiences and challenges. For the most part, I think I’ve done that and for 2014 and beyond, I will continue sharing my personal aha travel moments. In addition to my stories, I will also be scouring the Internet for stories to share from others about how their travel dreams, challenges, aspirations, and experiences have created a more fulfilling life for them. So, without further ado I present my first finding for the New Year from Amanda Blum.
As an avid reader of XOJane, I stumbled across Amanda’s story earlier this week while perusing the site on my phone, and I thought that her story would be such a great way to begin the year. Before jumping in, it’s probably worthwhile to begin with this question:
How do you justify your travel dreams and plans to yourself and others?
Or do you?
When I finally got the nerve to move forward with my decades long dream of going to Paris and London, I “sold” the idea to myself by describing it as a well deserved trip AND use of money for surviving and graduating from grad school. Would I have that experience under my belt if I hadn’t received the diploma? I can’t say for sure, but I’m leaning more towards probably not.
This kind of thinking isn’t only reserved for travelling. The question of whether we deserve something, for some of us, plays a large role in the decisions we make. I persuaded myself to buy a pair of beautiful black, patent leather pumps a few weeks ago not simply because I liked them but because “I may have an interview soon and black pumps are a definite interview necessity. Plus, I haven’t purchased any clothing items recently so I deserve a little something for being fiscally conservative.” Visa out. Case closed. This is also a pretty accurate scenario for my $400 Black Friday clothing buy out, which is why Amanda’s refreshing take on “doing nice things” for oneself especially when it comes to travelling, caught my attention.
“You deserve it! You work too hard!”
After consulting with a few friends on her plans for an impromptu trip to Florence to celebrate the New Year, Amanda had found the courage she needed to move forward with her plans. She had endured a very tough year of loss, hurt, and of being overworked. This trip would be her opportunity to refresh, begin anew, and most importantly it would be “something that honored” the things she experienced during the passing year. She brought in (what looked like) a fabulous new year in a beautiful country. During her time, she reflected on the year she had left behind, both the good and the bad, and she gave thanks for the people who had been a valuable part of her life. As the countdown to the New Year began, she made peace with the old and entered another year with happiness.
But what if she hadn’t deserved it? What if the hours she had put in at work weren’t enough to warrant something special? What if the pain and loss she had experienced didn’t surpass or even breakeven with the amount of money she would spend for the trip? She probably would’ve missed out on the “phenomenal pottery class in Tuscany,” eating pizza while in an airport in Rome, and all the other little things that combined allowed her to shake off the dirt of times past and enter into the future, dwelling in her happy place.
This is why justification is such a dangerous game to play, especially when it comes to our happiness. As Amanda did some months later when she booked another impromptu trip, this time to Ireland for a Valentine’s Day celebration, at what point do we simply say to ourselves, “I shouldn’t have to justify doing nice things for myself”?
Been waiting for a reason to visit Tokyo for a week all by yourself? Working over time at work to make your trip to a posh, expensive spa for the weekend more palatable? Stop it. You need no justification. Do it, simply because it feels good.
For Amanda’s full story and for some great pics from her New Year’s festivities in Florence visit XOJane.
Picture Attribution: By Rajwinder Singh from Sydney, Australia (Happy New Year !! Uploaded by berichard) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons