Paths Less Traveled

When promises are not upheld, expectations aren’t met, and you’re feeling lost, the only option left is to take back control and push ahead.  I’ll admit, I had my days curled up in my apartment full of regret and anger.  I felt betrayed, hopeless, and exhausted from the stress.  Reality hit a lot harder than I would have liked.  But after the letdown subsided, I realized that I could still make the most of this roundtrip ticket to China.  It was perhaps a blessing in (a really intricate) disguise; another chance to forge my own path and achieve my goals with nothing but sheer determination and a little bit of careful planning.

So I have decided to embark on my own adventure through Asia.

Just over a month ago I wrote about expectations and how destructive they can be, especially if we set them too high.  But I want to follow up with this…  You have every right to be upset when expectations are formed based on guarantees from others.  A friend promises to show up with freshly baked cookies and instead arrives empty handed?  Valid.  Your coworker guarantees they’ll finish their part of the assignment but misses the deadline by a week?  Valid.  Your significant other insists they’ll be at your big premiere but then stays home and eats your leftover pizza?  Valid.  And they’d better be ordering you a new pizza…

22228250_283723578799512_2813599825860262040_nI came to Asia with the expectation of networking, opportunities to tell the human story, and international travel.  These expectations were fairly established based on written promises and personal trust.  My excitement grew exponentially as the reality of traveling through Asia and telling the stories of ambassadors from all over the world seemed to be a reality.  Within two weeks of arriving, however, I realized that this epic adventure may not be as I was led to believe.  But I stuck around waiting, merely hoping that things might change for the better…

After a particularly low moment, my sweet friend Jenny asked me to consider the only three things this job affects:

  1. My Career
  2. My Finances
  3. My Personal Well-Being

At this point in my life, I know that my work is a learning tool.  I’m not supposed to have it all figured out yet and my career will take time to develop; one job lost is not the end of my career.  Recognizing that my intent was to leave Asia with the same amount of money with which I arrived, and understanding that student loan payments are coming up quickly, I know a lack of stable income is not the best move.  But first and foremost, my personal well-being had been set aside for high work output and cheap, replaceable labor.  I was told repeatedly that I could be replaced.  And that is when I realized that something had to change.

So I’m devoting the rest of my trip to seeing the places I came for and then some…

In the next two months my goal is to visit Western China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.  Ambitious?  Maybe.  But they’re #OnMyList

img_6294I intend to accomplish this with 3 trips; 2 before Thanksgiving and 1 right before I head back to the States.  Since there’s no time like the present, I’m crossing my fingers, booking hostels, budgeting out the remainder of my savings, and heading out ASAP.  So after an unforgettable October holiday spent gallivanting around the city with Josh and treating myself to way too much Papa Johns Pizza, I’m packing my own bags and heading for Western China…  in less than two days.

So without further ado, I present…

Itinerary #1: (October 13-19) Xi’an, Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Chengdu and Leshan.

trip one-01

Soon I’ll be train-riding, hostel-dwelling, and cliff-bar snacking my way through my first true backpacking experience to the Gobi desert.  Unfortunately after four months I still can’t speak Mandarin (shocking, I know), so I’m relying on my countless experiences with public transportation and basic communication skills to bring me back from the west in one piece.  The first leg of the itinerary is entirely by train; several day trips and one lengthy overnight adventure.  The second part, after realizing that flying would cost the same (if not less) as sitting on a train for 14 hours, will be by plane.

triponecollage.png

By the end of this trip I hope to have seen the Terracotta warriors, climbed Huashan mountain’s “death planks”, visited the Mogao caves and crescent lake, interacted with some giant pandas, discovered another giant Buddha, and spent some time exploring the local city life.  But most of all I hope to return having met cool people, immersed myself in new places, and become more confident in my ability to travel alone.

The only person truly capable of influencing your decisions and impacting your life experiences, is you.  If the path you’re on isn’t the path you sought, then don’t be afraid to change directions…

eko

BONUS: Thanks to my phenomenal boyfriend, my GoPro has been updated with all the gear one needs for quality vlogs.  So you can expect even more sneak peeks into my life abroad coming soon (and this time with audio you can actually hear).  Thank you, Josh, for supporting me and all my crazy adventures ❤

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