Traveling gives plenty opportunity to step outside our comfort zone, to broaden our horizon, to grow—oftentimes whether you want to or not. And that is part of why I love traveling—it challenges you as a person and the way you see the world, cultures, people. But that doesn’t mean you have to be outside your comfort zone 24/7. I believe traveling is more about learning to understand your comfort zone, both what falls within as well as outside of it. And only then can we really start pushing our limits and boundaries without being completely thrown off balance.
Over the years I learned that I am a hardcore introvert. I don’t talk to other people unless I have to. I don’t leave my apartment unless I have to. Social gatherings? It’s a no.
In fact, a personality test at work showed 98% introversion. 98%. That’s a lot. Even HR looked at me funny when we discussed my results.
Being introverted but deeply passionate about exploring the world can be challenging at times. The traveler community is an amazing group of people—welcoming, inclusive, curious, and always open to listen and share stories about the most amazing places in this world. But even with an open-minded group of individuals, you still need to start a conversation somehow. I want to be that laid-back person who just walks up to a group of strangers and—boom!—instant friends.
Instead, I’m that awkward person who prefers to listen to other people talk and only throws in a comment here and there, always after careful consideration of whether or not it is funny or interesting enough to be said out loud (thereby missing the window of opportunity in 3 out of 4 times).
In fact, I’m the person who starts telling a story, gets interrupted by someone else, and then apologizes—I actually apologize for someone else’s ignorance—saying “no, that’s ok, that was pretty much it”. Even though it wasn’t it. There was an entire—amazing, funny, insightful—story waiting to be told. Chances are, I thought about how to tell it and to whom for a long time, psyching myself out over it. But sure, talk right over me. Don’t mind me.
And my introversion also plays into what I enjoy when traveling. I’m not a thrill-seeker. I prefer the quiet wonders—watching sunsets and sunrises, sitting on beaches, watching the countryside fly by while on a train. I push my limits but not on a daily basis. I’ve gone canyoning (absolutely terrifying), swam with sharks (amazing), got lost in Hanoi (okay, that one wasn’t intentional), explored a flooded village (I still think there were snakes in the water), and many other things. But usually my adventures are more quiet-exciting. And that’s okay. I’m glad that I understand who I am as a traveler and know whether or not I’ll enjoy a certain activity before spending lots of money on it. I’m done with doing stuff just for the sake of being able to say “I’ve done that”.
And chances are, by picking places and activities that fit you, you will meet people that are much more like-minded. Sure, that ride up to the volcano on horse in Ecuador was not exactly exciting, but—surprise, surprise—I was with the people I got along best during my time in Ecuador and that made all the difference.
I hope my future holds many quiet wonders for me to experience, and some louder ones here and there. Balance is key—deep breaths and excited screaming; happy giggling and loud laughter; dancing in the rain and watching a downpour through the window of a diner. After all, pushing yourself is important but where is the point in turning your passion for traveling into constant stress?
How does your personality affect how you pursue your passion?
What’s your perfect balance? More quiet wonder or excited adventure? Let me know in the comments!
PS: I’m writing this from my couch and haven’t talked to anyone all day. Happy times.