Remember when you always wanted everything you now have?
I read that somewhere once (refrigerator magnet or Instagram caption, can’t remember, doesn’t matter) and I can’t help but repeat that to myself as I bask in my own contentment today.
I wanted to travel to 50 countries before I turned 25. And I did that. About 25 days shy of my 25th birthday.
Poetic isn’t it?
And pretty fucking cool.
When I first sat down to write this piece, the word fifty autocorrected to “gift”, and I have to acknowledge how fitting that was.
What a privilege to have seen 50 incredible and unique countries across 6 continents, and too many cities and towns along the way to even count.
I have eaten sushi in Japan, pho in Vietnam, gelato in Italy, shark in Iceland, guinea pig in Peru, and dhal bat in Nepal.
I learned how to surf in Australia, how to tango in Argentina, and how to white water raft in Costa Rica.
I rode camels in Morocco, swam with whale sharks in Mexico, rode elephants in Laos, and fed the monkeys in Indonesia.
I drank Tokai in Hungary, Soju in South Korea, Sangria in Spain, and Caipirinhas in Brazil.
I could sit here and write something about the 33 other countries- but you get the gist: I’ve done a lot of really cool things in a lot of really cool places.
No really, if you look up “things to do around the world” I’ve done most of the major ones.
Which leads me to the question…what happens when you get what you’ve always wanted?
I’ll admit this is something that use to give me a lot of anxiety. I like the idea of always having something to work for. A goal, a North Star, a light at the end of the tunnel, whatever you want to call it.
Yet, today all I felt is a quiet and calm sense of accomplishment. (Perhaps because I was day drinking in Uruguay and they make really fantastic wines- who knew?!)
Jokes aside, my sense of calm came from the fact that I already know the answer to my own question. When you get whatever it is you wanted or achieve whatever it is that you wanted to accomplish, you just go and figure out the next great thing.
(You’re probably thinking, “no shit, Sherlock,” but sometimes simple things have to be verbalized as a reminder that there is no need to to over complicate things.)
And in my case, my next big thing is just to keep on keeping on. There are still many more countries to visit; my 50 isn’t even a full third!
And while I don’t have a numeric target in mind anymore, I do have a goal in mind for myself: to venture into the unknown, the unpopular, the inconvenient. The places that are far away, the ones that scare people just a little bit. Perhaps the places you can’t pronounce, and couldn’t find on a map either.
Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, Moldova…just a start.
There’s a whole beautiful world out there to fly away to.
Heck, my next trip is already booked!
PS: For the record (not that any of you are keeping a record anyhow), I do not count territories that are not independent countries, nor do I count countries I have travelled through but haven’t left the airport in – I earned my milestone fair and square and I’m pretty damn proud of it.