It was January 15, 2017. I was sitting down, facing my gate, waiting for my flight from Montreal to Peru. I remember being excited and scared both at the same time. For the first time in my life, I did not have much of a plan about my foreseeable future.
My original plan was to travel for a full year. I remember looking ahead and being excited about coming back to Montreal, seeing all of my friends and talking about all the great stories from my travels.
But deep down, I knew that I did not want to call Montreal my home ever again.
So that initial year of travel turned into two, and now to three. I still cannot believe that it has been almost three years since I quit my job in Canada and left all my friends and my possessions behind, packed what I could in a backpack, and set out on my own to discover the world.
During the time since I left home, I have visited many countries and countless cities, and have met an innumerable amount of people from each corner of the world.
Each new day and new adventure has brought new realizations about my life and where I am now, and how life has changed since I left home 3 years ago:
NOT ALL FRIENDSHIPS MAKE IT…
As sad as this may sound, it is one of the biggest truths that being away from home has made me realize.
When I left Canada, I was of a mind to keep in touch with all of my friends as often as I could for as long as I could. And I did…. for a while.
Being away for a long time made it difficult for some of my friends and I to keep up with each other. We could no longer bond over a beer, go to the movies or take a trip together. Going through stuff together was no longer an option.
On top of that, life continued to happen for my friends and me, and thus, growing apart was inevitable.
As time went by, the time between each call, e-mail or message took longer and longer, until one day I realized we hadn’t heard from each other in a long time.
Ultimately, some of those friendships inevitably ended up dwindling away.
… BUT TRUE FRIENDSHIPS SURVIVE
As hard as it has been to keep all my friendships intact, I am glad to say that some of my friendships have grown even stronger.
The truth is that true friendships will survive no matter the amount of time you spend away and the distance that separates you. A true friend will make plans to meet you all the way across the world, no matter the cost. And a true friend will look for ways to keep in touch, even when you forget to do it yourself.
For me, even though it is not always easy, I now make sure that I connect with them from time to time. I have learned to send the odd message here and there to make sure my friends know that I’m alive. Even tagging each other on memes does the trick.
So even though I might have lost a few friends in the process, I am truly thankful for those true friends who have kept our friendships going strong despite the distance.
POSSESSIONS ARE NOT EVERYTHING, BUT MEMORIES ARE
If I think about my past life, I realize that I often obsessed with the things I didn’t have, until I bought them. Once I had them, I would find new things to obsess about and would eventually buy them too, and then find another set of things that I absolutely wanted to have and so on.
When I left home, I put some clothes, my laptop, my camera and my bank card in a backpack, and that’s all I owned for a long time. I left everything else behind, and I couldn’t have been happier that I did.
During these last three years, I have come to realize that having more possessions did not equal to being richer or even happier. In fact, I realize now that the more things I had, the more I used to surround myself with these things and less with the people close to me. In turn, the more I did that, the more bored I got about my life, and the more I wanted it to change.
The truth is that possessions do not last forever, but good memories do. Today, I cannot remember the brand of the expensive TV I bought a few years before I began to travel, but I certainly remember the trip I took to Tanzania or the time I went scuba diving in Ecuador.
EVERYONE IN THE WORLD HAS DIFFERENT GOALS, YET WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING
Travelling the world has allowed me to meet tons of awesome individuals from all walks of life. Teenagers, young adults, retirees, couples travelling with children, you name it.
While we all had different stories to tell about our previous and current lives, one thing always remained the same when we talked about our hopes and dreams: all we wanted was to have a happy life.
While the concept of “happy life” meant different things for many of us, it still remained the one thing we all wanted to achieve in our own way.
I recall that when I first moved to China, I had a little bit of a rough time finding a common ground with my Chinese colleagues. Their culture was so much different from mine, and finding things in common was not easy during our conversations. Until one time we started to talk about what we all wanted in life, and everyone opened up about what their desires were. And even though most of what we wanted was different from each other, we all realized that we were all connected by the same goal: to find happiness in our lives.
Many times, people tend to focus on what makes us different from one another rather than what makes us equal. But no matter who people are or what they want in the world, the ultimate goal always ends up being the same.
I HAVEN’T REALLY CHANGED THAT MUCH
One of the biggest realizations I’ve made during these last 3 years of my life since I left Canada is that, deep down, I haven’t really changed that much.
As travellers, we often say that “travel changes us” and that we’re never the same after a long trip away from home.
While that might be true for many people, I have come to realize that the life I live now is one that I have been yearning for, for as long as I can remember.
Ever since I was a kid, I used to move a lot. Living in a different city or a different country was always my reality growing up. I might have not always liked it, but moving around and not staying in one place was something that was embedded in me from an early age.
That’s where my love for travel began. And even though I didn’t take my first solo backpacking trip until I was 24 years old, I had always looked forward to the next time I would move.
So it isn’t that much of a surprise that today I still move around a lot. The only difference is that I now move around all over the world.