Welcome back to We Fly High, the blog series where we share your stories, since we’re not the only interesting ones up in here. Since we can only speak about our two perspectives, we thought maybe one of these features is the inspiration that will directly connect to you at home, scrolling through your phone, laptop, or desktop right this minute. And plus, it’s an opportunity to remind you that we have cheap flights on our site to help you shut up and go!
So let’s meet this month’s feature:
An independent woman of color who might as well be my sister from another mister. She reached out to me months ago about being featured on We Fly High, and I flagged her email to share with you at the perfect moment. It just so happens that this traveler is also now someone who was personally affected by Hurricane Irma, positive vibes are needed; the moment is right!
When she first reached out, she had just gotten back from her first solo Eurotrip, the makings for the perfect storm to create some major life changes.
At the time I received the email, this is what she wrote us, “I’m sitting on a plane right now that’s going to London. Shortly thereafter, I’m going to be on another plane going to Marseille, then on a traincar to Paris, then another to Italy. I got into a car accident in November that resulted in total loss of my car and I was so stressed until I wasn’t. In December, I calmly quit both of my jobs and decided to take a semester off university with three credits left. In response to all of this, an older man, an authority figure of sorts in my life lectured me about how important it is to work. And work. And work. This is what he came from and I know that this was probably coming from a place of love, but all ll I heard was someone trying to convince me that I was put on this Earth, this big, beautiful earth that’s throbbing and brimming with places and people I can’t even see in my mind’s eye yet- to work and die.
This is my first time completely jobless since I was 14. At jobs, we exchange money for our time. That means that other people acknowledge that my time has value. I decided, just for this short stint of time that I’ll be spending in Europe, that I should act as my own appraiser and fully treat myself with the value I feel my life has. For the first time I’m allowing myself to experience what my life would be like if I could live exactly as I wanted to full time. I know that we are always changing whether we want to or not, but this is me – actively and consciously- rearranging the furniture in my life.”
Naturally, I had to know more. So this month, We Fly High with RaeJeana and all her splendor.
So where are you from, and how old are you?
I’m 24 and I’m from Jacksonville, Florida.
For some reason, Jacksonville, Florida doesn’t scream “global incubator that inspires it’s young people to travel the globe.” Please correct me if I’m wrong.
When was the first time you traveled?
I bought my first plane ticket for myself when I was 18 and have since been running around as much of the world as time permitted, between going to school full time and juggling multiple jobs of course.
Girl, I get that life. I had at least two paying jobs, and one internship throughout all four years of college just to do more than the ordinary.
And were you encouraged to travel as a youngster? If so, by who?
The thing is, aside from being surrounded by the spirit of dreamers, I wasn’t surrounded by people who traveled or who encouraged me to. I think I was just born to be worldly. I’ve always had the inspiration to leave as soon, and as often, as I could. I knew I would never grow in the ways I knew I needed to if I’d stayed in one place.
It sounds like it really came from within you. Exactly how it came for Damon and myself.
What made you shut up and go buy your first plane ticket?
I’ve always loved languages. At 11, I vowed to learn at least five romance languages. By 17, traveling was essentially my job. I was realizing at this time, in addition to how in love with the world I was, how accessible it was to me. I had been self-studying Spanish throughout high school and felt an increasing draw toward Mexico. So I went. Only for a few days, but I went, alone, and discovered how much interest I had in the global south’s Spanish-speaking countries. Now, as I knew I eventually would, I’ve crossed the threshold into languages spoken in Europe!
You sound more and more like me with every response! Similar to you, Mexico opened my interest for Spanish-speaking countries that prompted me to go to Cuba and other countries in Latin America.
You’re now more well traveled than before, give me one major life lesson you’ve learned because of it.
One of the most important things I learned was that there are always going to be a thousand reasons you can’t do something. I realized that, for things I want, I have to give myself the reasons it will work and trust myself to make it happen. If I can see something clearly in my mind, no one can tell me it won’t work.
This is enough to give someone chills through a damn screen. Good for you for getting it.
Now, the real question is, what’s next?
Next is exploring Oslo by bike! My short-term goal is to finish seeing all 50 US states (I’m 36 deep) and my long-term goal is to live abroad. Italy or Mexico would be ideal, but I’m willing to see where the winds take me. I’m also open to exploring whatever goals pop up along the way. 😉
Imagine we end up being roommates in Italy or something? I would thoroughly enjoy that, based on how cool you seem!
Any major last words you’d like to share?
Firstly, go places alone. Second, speak to people in their language. Finally, when you love travel, leaving feels like the solution to a lot of things, and it often is. But it’s a privilege and we can’t always leave when we want to. You need to harbor a place you can escape to within yourself. If you love art and/or make it, you have an escape. If you have the will to be kinder or a better listener or better at languages and you work at it, you have an escape. No matter where you are, don’t underestimate the power within you. Then, when you are able to go places, take time to notice how brave and capable you are because of that.
Her email closed out with thoughtful, clever, and motivating thoughts that genuinely makes us want to keep doing what we do.
Thanks for reading this and thanks for keeping me company in the mornings when you’re seeing how Parisian you are, and when I have my French book open feeling stuck. Thank you for being the rapping tour guides in the back of my head as I walked through Le Panier. Thank you for getting me over my fear of hostels, for saving my LIFE with that under 26 discount tip, and for showing me I’m not alone in being able to fall sleep absolutely anywhere. Ultimately, thanks for being you and for sharing that with all of us. Stay hydrated and choco-lated, friends. <3
Can we please all permanently engrain those words in our brains? Thank you again RaeJeana. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know you via We Fly High. I’m looking forward to see what you do next – write a self-help book maybe, you have the wisdom for it.
If you’d like to be featured on We Fly High, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “We Fly High,” and something clever so I can smile at my inbox.
Now, back to my chocolate.