I am not an adventurous person. Usually the words “sensitive” and “quiet” come to mind but never adventurous. So it’s hard to explain to someone new that so far I have traveled to 16 different countries. When I get to the part where I tell them it’s not for work, I can feel the other person look at me with disbelief, wonder, or envy. Their stares make me squirm but I understand. It’s not common for someone to have traveled to so many places before the age of 30 unless you do this for a living. Regardless, it makes me less inclined to talk about the places I’ve visited. It’s a shame that in those uncomfortable situations I can’t find the words to tell them that even I find my situation unbelievable at times because 7 years ago I didn’t want to leave my house.
In those days I was barely getting used to attending a public university with 40,000 students. I kept to myself and the only adventures I experienced were found in the pages of a book. Essentially it was dating repellant. Thank God my best friend noticed and told me she wanted to introduce me to a guy I might like. I think at the time she saw in me something more than just my quietness and cared enough to want to see me connect with someone. I whined at first but I’m glad she insisted because that person turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
During our first few dates I knew I would fall in love with this person. It’s a part of my story I don’t tell because it sounds cheesy, though I promise I’m being honest. At the time it must have been my freaky INFJ premonition at work. Anyway, our chemistry was instant and I admired his ambition. My future husband had big dreams. He wanted to travel the world and experience as many things as possible.
We clicked on every level except for traveling. I wasn’t one to seek out new adventures so it was difficult for me to understand his passion for it. It also scared me and made me feel insecure about our relationship. I wanted him so much. Yet I would never deny him this part of his life because I knew he would end up hating me. Most of all I didn’t want to be strung along and try to maintain a long distance relationship. If he decided to travel then I couldn’t promise him I would be waiting. The last part about me not waiting gave him pause. He didn’t want to lose me either. Then he had an idea and suggested I travel with him after graduating from college.
It was a great solution. Only this time I was filled with more anxiety than before. I don’t think he realized how socially anxious I was and that I would have to rely on him most of the time while we traveled. Our relationship could end terribly…but like most situations my feelings of devotion won over my anxiety. Deep down I knew wherever he was I wanted to be there too.
After I graduated we took our first big trip. Interacting with strangers in different languages and dealing with unexpected situations triggered my social anxiety. It slowed us down and caused us to argue some times. Yet overall it was just a small blip compared to how much fun we had. Each shared adventure helped us grow individually as people and together as a couple. For this reason I didn’t want to experience anything else without him.
Truthfully I still don’t consider myself adventurous. I got lucky and life dealt me an amazing, unexpected card. I’m happy that traveling made me a capable person and more open to new things. However after all those trips I prefer to be left alone reading quietly with my cat.
He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
-J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring