There are lots of things that motivate me to travel: a desire to experience beauty, the chance to unplug from work, a love of learning, trying out new food, and meeting new people. But another – perhaps not so obvious – reason is the confidence it gives me. Every time I get back from a trip, the experience makes me feel more sure of my decisions and the person that I'm becoming.
During my recent trip to Stockholm, the exhibits at Fotografiska (a must-see photo museum if you ever visit the city) felt particularly meaningful to this peculiar process of coming of age. From Herb Ritts's studies on Africa and celebrity, Adi Nes's portraits of Israeli soldiers, Jimmy Nelson's directive photos of remote indigenous people, and (most especially) Lisen Stibeck's Daughters, each exhibit explored the theme of how our unique experiences shape our identity.
It's easy to get sucked into the vacuum of where you live. But it's so important to push yourself outside of your little bubble – even if it's a matter of exploring a nearby neighborhood that you'd otherwise not find yourself in. Your self-awareness immediately kicks into high gear when you're in an unfamiliar place.
Not only do experiences fuel intellect and cultural discovery, but they also reveal the importance of one's own personal freedom. As someone who's struggled with confidence issues and found herself in toxically codependent relationships (both romantic and platonic) in the past, I realize that there's nothing more valuable than my independence. Travel has granted me the assuredness to identify the importance of my independence...and inspires an unwillingness to sacrifice it for the wrong reasons or people.