By Ali Buckley
Last year did a number on me. In the wake of certain life events, I found myself in a place of self-doubt, confusion, and feeling overwhelmingly mediocre. As I’m sure many 20-somethings can relate, I was seeing the people around me crushing, achieving and constantly propelling forward in life and I myself felt stagnant – a word I loathe in every sense. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was the sole reason for that feeling. I am the type of person in constant search of my ideal self and somewhere along the way in 2015, I got tired of searching and settled down, getting nice and cozy within the constraints of my comfort zone. Then my friend mentioned a trip to Iceland.
Iceland, why would you want to go there? (I’ve heard that a lot in the past 6 months) but for some reason Iceland to me was a light, a window, a reason to wake up form the hibernation I had been allowing. I’ve had the desire to explore different places since I was very young, but for some reason I hadn’t jumped at opportunities like I should’ve – providing myself with constant excuses. Here I was 24, never having left the country but claiming to have a passion for travel.
So, I said “yes.” Not to a proposal, as one would expect with that phrase at this time in my life; I said “yes” to myself, adventure, and experience. I said, “yes,” to Iceland. I said, “yes,” to a trip outside the country with one friend, but 11 strangers. I said, “yes,” to spending significant money on experience. I said, “yes,” to the unknown and unexpected that came with this trip. I said, “yes,” and didn’t look back and it jumpstarted me towards saying, “yes,” to other opportunities that started presenting themselves along the way; Situations I normally would shy away from or claim other people were better at.
Well I went to Iceland and let me tell you, the beauty itself out there is enough to make you stop and reevaluate your life. I kid you not; every turn down every road was like a scene from a preset screensaver. The kicker is that for the people of Iceland, that is their commute to work, their trip to the grocery store, their backyard, their normal. What a normal to have! It still blows my mind, You look out into these snow covered mountains and landscapes untouched by mankind, the natural beauty that comes with a freezing waterfall, the colors of the skies sans-Instagram filters and you can’t help but give thanks to a higher power who strategically orchestrated a picture perfect landscape. A complete sense of appreciation for nature in its purest form develops as well as a deep desire to be entirely present in the moment; just soaking in all Iceland had to offer.
My Instagram is flooded with traveling photographers, self proclaimed adventurers, and for once instead of liking or talking about how much I admired their life, I was living that life – a life I thought I was incapable of attempting. I allowed my self to take action, I got out of my super comfy new mattress I got off Amazon, stepped away from my phone and computer, and I said, “hey, I’m here, I’m capable, and I want to give this a try.” And guess what, I was there, I was capable, and I loved every minute of it.
The best part of the trip: I went abroad with 10 people I didn’t know and 1 I did. All of us were mutual friends of one or two people involved putting each of us pretty much in a similar boat. We spent countless hours in the car together discussing our life stories, love, relationships, God, things we like, things we hate, our current struggles, our passions, our goals, and simply experiencing this amazing country together. You learn a lot about a person traveling with them and luckily, I was able to gain something from every conversation, every laugh, every stop along our filled itinerary. We were tired, we were hungry, we were cold, we drove a lot, but watching each other take in the sights, overcome fears, and find genuine, authentic happiness from the experiences we were having in Iceland made the struggle less important. I created a special, very unique bond with 11 people I’m not sure I would’ve otherwise crossed paths with and gained a deeper understanding of others and myself along the way. I was also able to feed and strengthen an already strong friendship. She has known me for years and on day one commented about how amazing it was to see me so happy. Maintain the friendships with those who bring out the best in you, accept your downfalls, and push you towards growth.
I left Iceland with a hunger for more, a deeper passion for making connections with others, and a desire to continue allowing myself to let experiences mold and better me. Being in our twenties to thirties, we are constantly looking for stability in the future as opposed to embracing our current situation and letting it construct our path. Having a plan is great but you have to keep moving when life throws you detours and timelines become more drawn out. Don’t become stagnant. Find beauty in the unknown and the unplanned. Say, “yes.” As Tyler Knott so poetically put it, “For us there is only one wish, to be adventurous pioneers and find ourselves at the end.”
So my friends, here’s to more “yes,” less fear, more adventures, and the beauty that comes from life’s detours.