This week I turned 35 and I’d love to say that I had wisdom to pass on simply from being on the earth for three and a half decades but the truth is that I learned all of the significant things in the last 2-3 years while traveling in Latin America.
I have met some amazing people, some very kind and others not at all but I learned from each of them.
When I wrote the 25 things I learned from traveling in Central America, most of them were observations about the world but here I realize most of the observations are about me. Which is why this quote from Anais Nin is so true:
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.
1. I have seen many people argue they weren’t running away from life but toward something else. I was running away… from the stress of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life and the inability to figure it out in the confines of my life. I still have no clue but I don’t feel the stress to define I’m more comfortable not knowing.
2. Corporate life is not for me. I don’t mind being a visitor with contract work but I don’t have the ambition to rise the corporate ladder just because I can.
3. Maybe I’m not as unfriendly as I thought or maybe I learned to shed it on the road as excess baggage.
4. If you can’t decide if someone is awesome or obnoxious. Chances are they are a douche bag.
5. Mean people are unhappy. Happy people won’t try to make you feel bad about yourself. The next time someone is mean to you feel sorry for them because something is so wrong with them they need to make you feel bad about yourself.
6. Some skills are important but you won’t learn them in school – like how to pee without touching the toilet seat while wearing a 45L backpack.
7. I thought I’d be happier on the road but while I was there I longed for my old relationship and job. Changing your location doesn’t change the issues. Just as you can be happy anywhere you can also be unhappy in paradise.
8. Art is important.
9. We eat far too much meat and the Earth is suffering because of our gluttony.
10. I need to talk less listen more.
11. Sometimes love lasts a lifetime, sometimes only a night. Cherish whatever you have at that moment.
12. We take clean water for granted. Being able to drink from the tap is a privilege.
13. Do not drink the water in Mexico. You will get sick.
14. iPhones are great. iPhones at the dinner table are not. Just because there is a lull in conversation doesn’t mean you need to check your emails – everyone you need is in front of you.
15. Being heartbroken is okay and you shouldn’t have to hide it. It’s better to hurt than never taking a chance.
16. Crying is okay. Crying in public is okay. Crying on a bus is also okay even if you do it all the time.
17. Age really doesn’t matter. It’s better to have friends with a common interest than a common age.
18. You can’t have everything. There is always a sacrifice and not everyone will understand you had to give up something to get what you wanted.
19. I can live with less.
20. I need to work harder at not interrupting people, especially when I’m so excited about what they are saying that I need to add to it.
21. If I don’t step outside my comfort zone in some manner I get bored.
22. We are poisoning the world with cheap, processed food.
23. Taking risks always pays off but not always in ways that you expect.
24. Even people who are mean to you leave you better off because you will be kinder to others.
25. A genuine smile can change someone’s day.
26. We think science will help us cure everything but if we listened more to the indigenous people we would find some things don’t need to be invented, they are already there.
27. Mindset is everything! Being on a crowded chicken bus in Guatemala is amusing as a memory but a crowded bus in Toronto is annoying.
28. I am addicted to the internet.
29. If you want to make a good impression on someone stop talking about what makes you so great and listen to the person like they are the most fascinating you have met. That person will only have good things to say about you.
30. My way may be right, but it isn’t the only right way.
31. The best meal you’ve ever eaten will always pale in comparison to mediocre food with people you care about.
32. Friendships change; instead of being resentful or wishing for the old days try to embrace the new ones.
33. It’s better to be alone than feel lonely while with someone.
34. You cannot change to make someone love you.
35. Everyone feels lonely and unhappy and wonder why no one else feels the way. If everyone were more honest about their insecurities everyone would feel less lonely.
I’m still learning, tell me your best piece of advice.