This might read like a love letter to travel, but it’s really a love letter to new experiences that shape us in ways that may be unexpected. This is more personal than anything I’ve written here thus far, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to write. So here it is.

Traveling is a part of me, and it’s also a part of me. Yes, you read that right. What I mean by this is that traveling is one of my passions, it’s something I love to read and dream about and research and do. But I can also credit a significant part of who I am to travel because it has helped shape me, and it has shaped my view of the world and my everyday life. I talk about my travel experiences often, not necessarily because I want to talk about the places I’ve seen, but because each return flight has brought home a slightly different me.

Four years ago I took my first domestic trip to British Columbia. Alex’s aunt and uncle live in Victoria, and we were going to visit them for a few days before heading to Vancouver and Whistler. I won’t go into the details of this trip, but it impacted me so significantly that when I came home, I was struggling to understand it. This was not my first time traveling, nor was it the furthest place from home that I’ve gone, but there was something about this particular trip that fundamentally changed me.

I remember a couple weeks after coming home, worrying to my mum that I felt like I couldn’t connect the same with the people around me, worried that they would sense a shift in me. It sounds dramatic to think this, and even more so to write it down, but it had clearly become an experience that seemed vital to my growth when I honestly hadn’t expected it to.

I hold close the things I learned about myself on that first trip to British Columbia. All these years later, I still feel that shift. It continues to bring peace and perspective and restlessness into my life. It’s something I think about often.

Life is full of these change-inducing experiences. Some of them are happy like this one, and some of them hurt. Big or small, for whatever reason, they are experiences that stick to us like glue. They make us better understand our priorities, our worldview, our strength, our wants and needs. I’m not sure if it was the travel that changed me or the space that that travel provided to open myself up to newness and growth. Maybe it was a combination of both. But I am a different me because of it, and I am so grateful.

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