I was not born a traveler.
My parents moved to Chicago from Pakistan after getting married, and my sister and I
were born into the American dream. Over the years, our parents provided everything they could for us and more in the way of community, culture and education. They love this country and so do we. Living here, despite the current political climate, is a blessing. It should have been enough and it was, for a long while.
Try as I might, I can’t quite pinpoint when the wanderlust struck. For years on years, I was content. I saw a simple life laid out before me. Chicago was home and that it would remain. It’s tough now to imagine how narrow my outlook once was. I even chose to attend a local-ish college because the thought of moving an hours-long plane ride away was ludicrous and so “not me.” It’s bizarre, all the people we manage to be in one lifetime, isn’t it?
The first time I lived away from home — really away, in a different state — was when I was placed in Houston as a Teach For America corps member. Who saw that coming? I had strongly expressed my choice to stay in Chicago, and nearly turned the job down for fear of the move. My life could have been so frighteningly different if I had.
Transitioning out of college into a new city for a very demanding job was no picnic. That first year was tough, both professionally and personally. Something needed to change. I needed to broaden my perspective. I needed to do the things I’d always told myself I couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I went skydiving. I took a trip to Marseilles, France. I dreamt of visiting Italy, and so I went.
Travel makes me feel grateful like nothing else can. It makes me feel alive and inspired. It makes me feel, at the same time, both bigger and smaller than I am. It dissolves my anxieties (of which there many) and frees me from the constraints I’m prone to burden myself with.
As my two year commitment with Teach For America came to a close, I took a chance on myself and applied for a Fulbright grant I never really believed I would receive. I still remember sitting in my classroom during a passing period toward the end of the school year, fretting about what the next year of my life would bring. I remember the elation that flooded me as I read the congratulatory email that welcomed me to spend a year living and working in Madrid.
I called my dad with trepidation, hating to break the news that I’d be far from home once again. Far from the city he’d labored away in for us, from the country he’d come to and stuck with for us. Knowing, all the same, he was the first person I wanted to tell (he took it mostly well, having an adventurous spirit himself).
The year I spent living in Spain remains the best one yet, a year I’m pleasantly surprised managed to weave itself into the tapestry of my life because who knew?
There’s so much more to see, so many more places to visit. Yes, for the sights, the foods, the photographs, the sounds. Yes, for the experiences. But mostly, I travel to better know myself. I relish in observing what different aspects of travel awaken within me. Traveling reminds me to connect with the core of my being, it’s meditative.
And so, here’s to a life of frequent meditation and constant awe.
What’s a Globe Gazer?
It’s you, it’s me, it’s anyone who is aware and observant of the world around us and within us.
- I’ve traveled to nearly 20 countries, mostly in Europe (chump change in the world of travel bloggers, I know).
- I check my horoscope (Libra) pretty regularly.
- Most of my photos are snapped with my iPhone6, some with my boyfriend’s fancy DSLR as I learn to use it.
- My social media of choice is Instagram.
- In my professional life I have been: a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher (Houston), an English Teaching Assistant for IE University students (Madrid/Segovia), a PR professional (Chicago) and a corporate L&D professional (Chicago, currently). No, I can’t sit still.
- My favorite workouts are spinning, yoga and zumba classes — in that order.
- I love: dad jokes, coffee, chocolate with almonds in it, magic, airports, deep dish pizza, bridges, photography, peppermint, spring and summer, podcasts, Netflix, Anthony Bourdain, House Hunters International…
- I don’t love: horror movies, spicy foods, pickles, cashews, winterfresh, snow and cold, reality TV…
Did you get through all of that? Leave a comment to say hello, or shoot me a note if you have questions or opinions to share. Of course, follow me on social media because it’s 2017 and that’s life. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Welcome, Globe Gazer <3