I was sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam working on job applications and my online TEFL course when a tiny adorable dog came in (with two owners who were also very nice but less exciting.) In the midst of cooing over this friendly little ball of joy, I ended up in conversation with the guy at the table next to mine. He was from South Korea. Naturally, we got to talking about what brought each of us so far away from our respective homes.
I’ve been asked this a lot since coming here, so my answer at this point is about as automatic as an out-of-office email response. “I was working in the States, got the travel bug, and really wanted to quit my job and move to Europe. So I did, and I came to work at a hostel for 6 months but now I want to stay a little longer, so I’m looking for work.” Concise, honest, and rolls off the tongue due to practice. The responses are normally congratulatory, or something about wanting to do the same thing, or an anecdote about a friend who did something similar. But this one was a first. He seemed really….impressed? He paused for a while, and then said slowly,
Wow. That is so brave.”
At first, I was taken aback. I’ve felt pretty spoiled since coming here because everyone in this city seems to speak English, and also I was having a day where I questioned all my life decisions (I think applying to jobs sucks no matter which country you do it in.) But then it struck this internal chord with me, and I was like, “Yeah, you know what? I am brave as hell!” (I didn’t say this to the guy though. I just thanked him.) Traveling involves so many new experiences and unknowns. Chasing adventure means embracing challenges and it got me thinking about how we, as a traveling community, are a remarkably courageous group of people. So I wanted to take this moment to tell you:
Shoutout to you, first-time solo traveler. You brave.
Shoutout to you, study-abroad student learning about and adjusting to a new foreign host family. You brave.
Shoutout to you lovers out there, traveling to see your international boo-thang (or even moving away for love!) You brave.
Shoutout to you, language learner, adjusting to a new place AND new words. You brave.
Shoutout to you, mover and shaker. crossing the globe for that career move. You brave.
Shoutout to you, frequent flyer/railer/sailor, on your 30th trip and following your wanderlust even if your friends and fam don’t 100% understand why. You brave.
Seriously guys, we should acknowledge and celebrate this more! Got any adventurous friends? Send this to them to remind them of how much you admire them for going out of their comfort zones. We are all brave and I’m proud of us.