So before we go any further, let me explain what I mean by the “unknown” a little bit more. It’s everything that is on the other side of that plane, train, bus or boat. When you’re on the side that’s getting on that plane, the unknown can seem intimidating, worrisome and even scary. But when you get to the other side…well, that’s when the unknown becomes something unbelievably exciting. For me, the unknown has become the people I’ve met, the adventures I’ve experienced, the different cultures and country histories I’ve learned about, and the best one of all, the unknown is full of things about yourself that you have no idea exist…yet.
Though that one might be my favorite mystery of the unknown, I can’t undervalue the incredible and enlightening cultures I’ve learned about. Though unintentional, we all live in a sort of bubble within our own countries and cultures. It’s not a bad thing, but in my experience, the way people from other countries live – the how, the why, the history, everything – is not something that we can truly understand until we get to experience it firsthand. I learned this very early on during my time in Europe. In my first country in fact.
There was no amount of world history in my classrooms that could teach me about WWII, and Germany’s role in it, like the walking tours of Berlin that showed us the remnants of the Berlin Wall and where Hitler’s underground bunker was. And in my classrooms there was certainly no education about how German’s represent it now, decades later. I learned that as a country and a culture they don’t try and pretend it didn’t happen, they don’t act ashamed and hide it under the rug, instead they own that past, educate people on it and ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. I learned more about WWII in 2 weeks in Germany than I ever could have back home, simply because I was there, immersed in their history, no longer just my own. And that was in just one country. I could tell you a story for all 28 countries that started out as the “unknown” and became a fascinating learning opportunity that opened my eyes to parts of the world I had once thought intimidating, worrisome and even scary.
The unknown is full of things just waiting for us to find. It could be an adventure through an abandoned old war hospital turned graffiti hub, a scuba dive down to see The Great Barrier Reef, or a visit to a Buddhist temple turned monkey sanctuary (where against your better judgement you let a guide talk you into having a monkey sit on your shoulders while you feed it out of your hands…). But no matter what it is, every adventure is there waiting to teach something about yourself (like you’re terrified of having live animals climb on you!). Sometimes they will be silly and small things like that and sometimes they will be revelations about yourself that change the way you view the world, and maybe even the person you are going to become and the path your life is going to take. But I promise you no matter the personal take away from each experience, with each discovery you get closer and closer to finding who you truly want to be in life.
These aspects of finding the unknown all have some important things in common. One, you have to start by taking that leap of faith and going on this new adventure. Two, you have to be open to learning, both about yourself and about the amazing new places you’re visiting. And three, as I keep seeming to find in each post, they all relate back to the people to you meet. The people you meet, those once unknown strangers turned country companions or life-long friends, all play a role in these “unknowns” going from intimidating and scary to exciting and life-changing. Take a look at my blog, Finding Community, and see why these people become so important.