I have spent a lot of time trying to find my place in the world, my purpose, my “thing”. It used to be my goal to win an Oscar for costume design. For me, that would have been the defining moment that meant I’d made it, a a true sign of success and glory. I thought that in order to be considered a successful person, I would need to have some degree of fame and prestige. In addition, I would have money, composure, grace, all my shit together and all my ducks in a row. It strikes me now that my idea of success was rather 2-dimensional.
Now it seems to me that there is not one simple way to define myself, or indeed any person. I am many things: a writer, traveler, teacher, artist and photographer, casual anthropologist, lover of BBC miniseries, budding guitarist, closet romantic, loyal friend, lover, sister and daughter. I am a three-dimensional human being with different chapters to my life, the fleshed-out protagonist of my own story. And in this latest chapter (Chapter 27: My Life Abroad), I have become a citizen of the world.
The thing I really like about travel, the thing that really gets me, is the stories I collect. I create my own stories from the adventures I have and things I see, but I also gather stories from the people that I meet. I relish this human aspect of travel, this connection. Seeing how people live in other parts of the word and hearing their unique stories is one of those things that makes me feel so alive, so human. That’s also why I like anthropology: in studying the perceived “other” we actually reflect back upon ourselves and can see more clearly not what makes us different, but what makes us the same.
In a way, I am a collector of souls. Of stories. If I were to plot on a map the connections I’ve made through my travels, the diversity of the map pins would surely be impressive. I have a friend in every port, someone to visit in diverse corners of the world where together we can have more adventures, make more memories, tell more stories.
I turn 30 in a few months. I used to think that this would mean I would feel like a real adult, and have my shit figured out. I told myself that my 20’s were for fucking up and figuring it out, but my 30’s would be better. My 30’s would be when I felt grown-up, had a career, made more money, put down roots. But as 30 approaches I definitely don’t feel like a real adult, and I’m still fucking up and figuring my shit out. Some days this really bothers me, some days it’s quite alright. These days, I’m more comfortable with the fact that I don’t have a plan and am open to learning and experiencing.
Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the point of life is not in winning awards and making money and being successful. Maybe the point is the experiences we have, the connections we make, the stories we tell.