Traveling has been integral to my life since I was young.
As a middle schooler, I used to read and transport myself into diverse worlds. I even used to sit on the living room floor for hours poring through encyclopedias. I wanted to learn about all the places and people I encountered in my books.
As a teenager, I hung destination posters all over my bedroom: Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, Rabat, Boston, Honolulu, San Francisco, and Oslo. When my best friend from high school moved to the former Yugoslavia, all I wanted to do was visit him.
I envisioned going to college in Washington and grad school in Boston, but my social conditioning ruled my decisions in that season of life. I did not think that dream was available to me, and I was not willing to follow my heart because the cost of disrupting the expectations seemed too high. Today, it is one of my biggest lessons for which I am grateful. My life is a compass.
When I was in graduate school, I studied digital nomads because they appealed to me. I already had a family of my own at that time and imagined parenting with freedom outside the structures I had been following. I had a knowing, but I also had a fear of failing my children.
Stick with me while I mix metaphors for a bit.
Have you ever read Marilyn Frye’s metaphor of the birdcage in her trailblazing essay, Oppression? She gifted us with a way to take a wider view of what’s possible. I saw my life close up through the bars of the gilded cage. I thought the parameters were my freedom because I could not see the barriers. I was simply too close.
However, when I learned the skill of stepping back and traveling in my own skin, I began to imagine new possibilities. That did not mean that it was easy or that I knew where to begin because I didn’t. Seeing the obstacles and limiting beliefs meant that they were not inevitable. It meant that I could look inward to ask what I wanted and then strategize about ways to live according to my values. I (almost) daily feel the confirmation that I am here on this planet, at this time, for this very reason. I credit my wanderlust for that journey to myself.
I embrace all of it, even the parts that feel painful because my life is a compass.
Over the years, I met many of my travel goals, but I also travel in other ways.
Trailblazers travel across expectations. When we are willing to prioritize courageous action to develop confidence, we learn to lean on our self-trust to find out what is right for us.
Trailblazers travel for impact. We know that life isn’t all about us. We see the change we want to make in this world and we are not willing to wait for someone else to take the lead.
Trailblazers travel to possibility. We entertain new ideas and don’t want to see them before we believe them.
Trailblazers travel through their own fear to get the damn thing done.
Trailblazers also travel in their relationships, loosening some and developing new ones. We cultivate our communities and know that we are stronger together. Trailblazers don’t go it alone.