The world is a big place. Having spent my formative years living in San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Ojai and Barcelona my passion for global adventure is hardwired. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to continue on that path and experience the mental and physical transformative powers. The world is a big place, and exactly a year ago, mine began to feel very small.
In January of 2015, ten years after graduating from college and several start-up jobs later, I began to feel like I was surviving, but not thriving. I had been working long hours to make other people’s dream a reality and it terrified me to think I could still be sitting at a desk twenty years from now not having realized my own dream - to see, smell, taste and photograph the incredible people and places in this world. Feeling stuck, uninspired and without direction, I knew it was time to go someplace that I’ve never been. This deep-seated longing is from the incredible #changedbytravel moments that I have stored in my memory bank over the years. Now, my wanderlust was back in full force - impossible to ignore.
The desire to fully experience the world comes with blessings and drawbacks. The blessings are easy to count: my first heavenly slurp of noodles in a tiny Tokyo ramen shop, the captivating endless expanse of Bolivia’s salt flats, losing my breathe climbing to the top of Machu Picchu and feeling that peaceful awe as I looked out with the sun rising in front of me. But blessings can be hard to recognize without the drawbacks. Contending with horrific bout of Dengue Fever while on a long windy drive in a chicken bus or having my money and passport swiped in Barcelona are experiences I’d rather not have again. While not all of my travel memories are fond ones, I cherish each and every one of them and know they are an important part of the fabric of my life.
I knew a quick trip wasn’t going to scratch my wanderlust itch. In fact, it felt like so much more was calling me. I needed to get back in touch with my passion and purpose. I felt moved to give up the stability of my life and head back out to explore. While the next steps were crystal clear in my mind, over the next few weeks I still faced self-doubt and shouldered the concern from others about my seemingly impulsive decision. “Running away isn’t going to solve your problems!", "What are you searching for that you can’t find here?”, my friends pleaded. I didn’t know. Yet I knew I had to find out. I needed the freedom and the space the world offered. I truly felt like I was about to jump off a ledge, but my faith in uncertainty allowed me to take the leap.
I chose exhilaration and magic over comfort and predictability and despite the anxiety and fear I trusted a net would appear. Within a few days, I resigned from my job, sublet my cozy apartment and bought a one way plane ticket to Colombia. An open-ended itinerary and long South America bucket list filled me with an intoxicating sense of hope, curiosity and excitement. I hadn’t left San Francisco yet but knew I was already heading in the right direction, mostly because I had no specific goal or destination. One year and eighteen countries later, the world is big but mine now feels more wondrous and expansive. Through it all, I have again been #changedbytravel. - Sarah Morrow