In April 2010 Lily Leung, a 29-year-old Toronto native, quit her full-time 9-5 job, ended her long-term relationship, and set out to learn what it would feel like to travel solo for the first time. She ventured around the globe for 13 months learning how to survive, support herself, and be her own companion as she learned more about herself than she ever expected to. “I feel like I’ve had an emotional growth spurt,” she writes on her blog about her travels, Explore For A Year. Check it out for tips on getting to know yourself, breaking the status quo, and making positive change.
Now home for the holidays in Toronto, we caught up with Lily. Below, she shares the three biggest lessons she learned from her year exploring:
- When in doubt, choose change. It’s easy to stay with status quo instead of following what your gut tells you. Maybe its seems too risky, unconventional or just plain scary, but each time you push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of, you grow more into the person you’re meant to be.
- Anticipation of pain is more painful than the event itself. We spend a lot of emotional worrying about what might happen, imagining what-if scenarios, building contingency plans for worse case outcomes. In my case, worrying about people’s disapprovals or about feeling lonely, homesick. When then the actual event started happening, things weren’t nearly as bad, in fact they turned out quite great! If you find yourself worrying, rehearse the best case scenario instead and know that whatever difficulties you imagine or experience, they will all pass in the long run.
- Things will work out and you’ll have help on your journey. When we start going off the conventional path, you might feel alone or wonder if you’ll end up worse off than you were before. Have faith things will be fine. If you pursue your dreams and open up, you may be surprised by the amount of help you’ll get for your journey. Just through selling my belongings, I made a friend who helped me plan my entire trip to Thailand, and a scriptwriter who gave my plants a good home and guide me on how to be a more productive writer (which I’m still practicing).
Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing with you’re life that you’re acting on? Or any big lessons you’ve learned from times you have challenged yourself? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.