Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The World at My Fingertips

On May 29, 2013, I crossed yet another ‘first’ on my imaginary bucket list - I flew alone.

No, I don’t mean Supergirl flying (I wish!), I meant lounging at the skies at the comfort of an Airbus.

I went to Iloilo for work. Was supposed to go with my boss, but since he had an emergency, I had to proceed without him.  

The details are unimportant, but on that day, I remember learning 2 things: 1.) that you have to always be ready to step up at any given time, and 2.) flying alone feels so liberating I couldn’t stop myself from imagining that I was at my own coming-of-age movie.

Lesson #1 probably deserves its own blog entry, cause that first solo business trip must’ve had its own tape if I were Hannah Baker - except my tapes would be of events that helped me achieve my 2015 goal. We can maybe call that, 13 Reasons How? (Sorry can’t help it!) I digress.. that isn’t today’s story.

Today, I’ll talk about that coming-of age-movie feel.

I wasn’t used to flying before 2014. Sure, I had trips here and there, but it wasn’t something I did regularly. I flew so seldom that for previous trips, I always went to the airport unreasonably early it put the worm’s early bird to shame. I was always paranoid and imagined I’d get left by the plane, or that my taxi would be flagged for some traffic violation. Or maybe I’ll trip from walking and my luggage would fly and it’ll take me an hour to re-pack my bag. My imagination’s got to chill, I know.

All these started to change though when I first flew alone. You know that music video vibe that you just suddenly do when alone, feeling your every movement as if magnified by a camera - unknowingly magnifying your thoughts too - making you feel and listen to them more intently? Yes. That one.

Some people get that moment in the car, some by their office window, some by their bedroom. Mine was at some thousands of feet up high, with the beautiful blue skies as backdrop.

It didn’t stop on that plane. As my solo work flights grew more frequent, opportunities for self-reflection became just about all the time: i.e. I didn’t realize that pizza vs cinnamon roll was an unbelievably hard choice to make when you have limited airport options. Or that I had so much free time on my hands that I learned I had a barely noticeable mole on my arm. 

Yep, travel changed me in a 2-step function.

First, it made me self-aware. 

Both solo traveling for work and vacation trips with family and friends have helped me discover more myself. 

For example, traveling confirmed that I’m pretty useless with directions. Made me realize too that my favorite type of ~chill~ is to sit by the beach and listen to the sound of the waves. And that despite the fact that I love the beach, I really couldn’t learn how to swim. But that’s because it’s not the swimming that I like, it’s the peace that I get from the sea breeze that I breathe, the relaxing feeling of my toes digging the sand, the calming of my senses as I listen to the beach waves.

Helped me discover people’s moods and my reception to them too, my pet peeves and my soft spots, my shortcomings and people’s kindness.

This step is a long, fulfilling, beautiful ride. It still is ongoing. Coming off a long term relationship from college, these trips have helped me recognize the real me, not co-defined by another person. I was so used to being with someone that decisions, preferences, and priorities have all been influenced greatly. This is not to say that that was bad - it’s just that during those formative days, I grew to be someone that wasn’t just all me.

To finally get to know myself, at my own pace and style, filled my tank so much that I just knew I was always going to be okay.

You know what I mean? Like that switch of self-assurance was turned on, and there’s thankfully no going back. I was going to be okay. I know myself, I will handle myself no matter what.

I got to enjoy life better because of this; I travelled more, bonded with friends more, and got to appreciate the world better. And this was when I was able to catch my second realization.

That I, with my whole self-assured self, am nothing but a dot in this universe.

I mean, right? A dot.

I get so consumed with work at times that I look back at moments where I stare at a beautiful beach sunset, and realize that life is so much more than just a presentation.

I see kids playing by the local streets and know that life has stages and we all just have to enjoy each one of them.

I stare at the vast seas and realize that I am nothing but a small speck of life, trying to make a difference, living the best way I can.

Or at least I try to. 


We can all just try. 

Traveling has enabled me to look at life at a different perspective; knowing that beauty comes in all forms, and that appreciation is a noun that needs to be turned into a verb more.

I’m excited to continuously discover how my travels will further shape me and my view of the world. It has so far not disappointed, and I am positive it will continue to impress. 


Thank you Traveloka for this challenge to reflect!

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