“I am embarking on a journey around the world. I want to explore the globe and put meaning to names on the map. Wake up in a different country every week and explore with my own two feet. Make the world my classroom and its people my teachers. Get lost in foreign countries and find myself. I want to sail into new waters and make waves while doing it. Lose sight of the shore. I will be a traveler and not a tourist.”
Semester at Sea, traveler’s pledge.
A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions and motives of an individual, something that I think is necessarily important to travel the world. Something that is deeper than a bucket list, but shallower than a traveler’s guide. Here is the traveler’s manifesto, that me, a twenty year old college student, that I will choose to live by as I travel the world attempting to find myself while letting go of every comfort I have ever held on to.
- Release and disengage from the opinions of other people that are solely based on their own thoughts and fears.
From the moment I publicly announced that I was going to leave Indiana University for a semester, people would express their excitement and automatically follow it with, “I bet that is expensive, how are you going to afford that?”, “I bet you are going to be extremely behind in school, you know, living on a ship for five months.”, “And you’re going to law school? Good luck with that.” and then there is my personal favorite, “So it’s not actually school, it’s a vacation, right?” I began to find myself overwhelmed, anxious and questioning my decision to pursue my oversea studies all because other people could or would not open their minds to such an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I took numerous online courses throughout the summer to stay on track, I worked as much as I possibly could to save money to pay my way across the world and I learned to live humbly alone. If you know what you are capable of, there is no reason to live through other people’s opinions.
- Study and invasively research the work of others, and let it inspire you.
This is something I believe is the epitome of traveling. Whatever you believe in: God, energy, karma or whatever it is in between, their work is what causes us to go out of our comfort zone and travel the world. Ephesians 4:1 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” Gretchen Rubin, who authored The Happiness Project wrote, “I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change,” and Narcy Thayer said, “The universe is always speaking to us: sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around to believe in something else, something more.” Whether it be religion, karma or energy, each one of these passages say that we should spend every single day growing into the best version of ourselves with the constant belief that we are supporting by something more. When traveling the world, read scripture, books and passages, look around you and document how the things you read influence what was created. Whether you study medicine, law, business, art or psychology, travel to study the work done by others to encourage you to do good in the world. Let the things you see, learn, do and read inspire you to look beyond the surface, and to develop a deeper meaning for this world, your education, your experiences and your soul.
- Let go of all of the social competition.
In today’s society, the media has become a subconscious comparison model for every aspect in life. You’re not as skinny as the girl on your timeline, you aren’t as happy or successful in your job as your best friend, you don’t have the fulfilling, perfect relationship as your cousin or you haven’t been to the places that the people on your Instagram explore page spend their summer in. There is this constant social competition to have the perfect body, the envious love or the triumphant career as the person next to you. And as I believe that a little competition is a great motivator to push yourself to be the best you can be, but the ridiculously high social standard competition is simply a toxin in everyday life. In terms of traveling the world, letting go of social competition allows one to open their mind to everything around them: eating new foods, not worrying about the five-hundred-calorie limit that the Instagram bikini model recommends, taking pictures of every single beautiful thing you come across because you never want to forget the sight, not in attempt to hit a thousand likes and loving every individual you come across as hard as you can instead of looking for unfulfilling attention.
- Be a mess, make a mess and embrace the mess.
In life we do things, every single day we wake up and make decisions and do things. Some of these things we wish we had never done, and some things that we wish we could replay a million times in our heads, but no matter what we do, all of these decisions make us who we are and they shape every detail about us. What we eat for breakfast, the people we befriend and fall in love with and everything in between. You carry stories, sadness and victories and we do not understand how our days add up or what we are supposed to be understanding from all the silver linings and subtle clues because life is messy, being human is messy and to embrace this mess you must believe that the right things will come when your heart is ready to carry it, until then? You are traveling, you are learning and you are growing.
- Question everything and exercise your voice.
The majority of our generation was raised thinking that in order to live a happy life, we had to get above average grades, go to a prestigious university and study our young-adult lives away to earn our way to a highly paid, well-respected career, but who decided this? When traveling the world, question and compare, but respectfully. Question authority: who put this person in charge and do they deserve to be in charge? Are they doing good for the people, for the world, for me? From the President of the United States to your superior at work. Question the rules. Are these rules for my safety or my limitations? Question the facts, and build your own hypotheses. Aliens, reincarnation, God, afterlife? Have conversations about them. Question yourself, but in the most positive, yet principal manner. Question everything. Ask why, when, who, and how and seek the answers. Talk to those around you, write about the things you learn, analyze and converse about your findings and opinions and strive to have your voice heard. Prove to your education that you do not need only textbooks, professors and assignments to learn what you need to learn. Prove to your parents that you are passionate about expanding your knowledge. Prove to yourself that you will not settle for close mindedness.