After eight weeks living, interning, and traveling Europe, Dublin intern Sarah Wagner has gathered up her defeated fears, international accomplishments, and hopes for her future, to share advice in this blog.
I vividly remember marching in my first parade as a child— the loud thudding of the drums, the cheering crowds, high-pitched whistles, and the precise steps that my little feet could hardly keep up with. And then I remember thinking to myself, “just keep moving forward, and you can’t go wrong.” It’s no secret that the world can seem like an extremely big place, and that can often be a reason for fearfulness when it comes to doing something scary, like marching in a big parade, or traveling very far away from home. And then the questions arise…
“What if I can’t speak the language?”
“What if I get lost?”
“What if I get homesick?”
To which my answers simply are, “yes you may not be able to communicate effectively sometimes. Getting lost is unavoidable, and homesickness is often more temporary than you think- kind of like a head cold that passes with time.”
Or maybe you’ll hear something like, “I’m too young,” “It’s too expensive,” or the classic, “Why would I leave when I’m perfectly happy here?” To which I believe the best response is greatly summed up in Babe Ruth’s famous saying, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Or, in this case, don’t let the fear of the big things around you keep you from marching in the parade. Because at the end of the day, no one wants to wonder what could have happened. We want the memories. We want the stories. We want the photographs in hand. And it all starts with the first step…
Now, you will undoubtedly encounter things, people, and places around the world that are bigger than you. Maybe they speak more languages. Maybe they’ve mastered this whole “world-traveler,” thing. However, that should give you all the more reason to get out there yourself. It’s incredibly common, if not natural, to feel initial discomfort while abroad… the road signs are different, the rooms are likely smaller, and each way you look, you don’t recognize a thing.
Traveling is like learning to walk again. Mistakes have to be made in order to get it right the next time. But when you do finally get it right…
Not only will you find yourself surviving, but thriving.
And when you do become accustomed to travel, ideas start flowing through you the same way water tumbles through rivers. Endless…free flowing…without any particular pattern. And that’s the beauty of seeing the world, everyone. That’s the beauty of marching in the parade. Your mysteries become realities, and all you can think about is growing more and more as a person. See, there’s a great truth in the law of momentum. The more you build up, the faster and stronger you become. Apply that logic to travel, and you will constantly be asking yourself, “So, where to next?”
All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore that you’ve been living out of a suitcase for months. Or that you’ve gained 5 pounds. Or that you ran out of clean laundry two days ago. Think journey, not destination. Wake up each morning with the expectation that you will live a long and happy life, keeping in mind that the number of days we have to spend is out of our control. What we can control, though, is the way we spend them.
And you certainly don’t have to go at it alone. I’ve found that so many other people in the world who are just as curious as I am, and I am so grateful for having the opportunity to experience these new things with new people, many of whom I consider to be my closest friends. They will help you just about every step of the way.Because in all honesty, some opportunities don’t come twice in a lifetime, and we have a responsibility to decide upon which ones are worth taking. Now, I’m not saying to pick up the phone right now and book a spontaneous trip to Europe, but I am asking everyone reading this story to start doing some research on what kind of travel would suit you best. Better yet, make a list of all the places you would like to go someday, and then make a second list of all the things you could do to help get you there. Make a game plan and then prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime.
Before you know it, you won’t feel so small anymore. You can finally talk about other places and cultures because you’ve been there. Not only have you seen the water, but you’ve been swimming in the pool! And so begins the evolution of the small man in the big parade.
It all starts by putting one foot in front of the other. Heel to toe. Ask questions, get answers, and just keep going!
Picture the endless crowds of people cheering you on — making your own beats, waving your own flags, leading your own march.
The parade is waiting for you, soldier.
Remember, don’t fear the bigger men around you. Learn about all the world has to offer at your fingertips, and don’t be afraid to grasp it. Immerse, adapt, and march on.
All the best,