The #10yearchallenge – Has travel changed me?

Over the past few weeks, the #10yearchallenge has bombarded every social media platform. I have seen adorable photos of my friends from 10 years ago, many of which bring back wonderful memories. It has been a social media ‘challenge’ which I have actually enjoyed seeing, as for the most part, in the present photo you can also see how much the person has grown in confidence over the years.

A nice realisation that we do not stop growing as a person as soon as we hit adulthood, most of our personal growth and with that self-confidence continues throughout our entire lives. The wonderful Sophie Cliff sums it up very nicely over on her blog with her version of the Ten Year Challenge which leads to me thinking how much I have changed over the past ten years.

Ten years ago I had just turned twenty and looking back, I was a completely different person to who I am today.

Ten years ago I had not begun what is now my career and I am pretty sure one of my main focuses in life was ensuring I made it to the Black Sheep Bar in Croydon every Friday AND Saturday night. Life was simple in the form that everything was inside this small bubble and anything outside of it was not of that much interest to me.

It was not until I was around 21 that started to step outside of my comfort zone and push my boundaries. At 21 I started volunteering at a wildlife centre and discovered my vocation for working with animals, from that point on I fought tirelessly to make it my profession.

At the age of 22, I started to discover my love of travel, finally realising there was a whole world around me that I wanted to know everything about. Twenty-two is pretty late considering a huge majority of backpackers are between the age of 18-21, but before then it was just not on my radar.

At the age of 20, just 10 years ago, I had only been to 5 countries, at present I have now been to 30.

Growing up my experience of other countries was all-inclusive holidays in Europe or incredible family holidays to Florida, of which I am so incredibly grateful to my parents for. I have fantastic memories from them and they were opportunities I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have while growing up but for one reason or another they didn’t ignite the travel bug in me.

So, what changed?

Just before I turned 22 I met DJ, the person I have travelled the world with over the past 9 years, the person I am lucky enough to call my partner as well as my best friend. We went to Thailand together and all of a sudden it was like someone turned a light on to a whole new world for me. Straight away I knew I needed to see more. I wanted to see countries the polar opposite of what I have been used to my whole life and I wanted to know everything about the people who lived there.

An example of a photo taken with the GoPro Hero Session which is also waterproof

Ever since I have pushed my boundaries further, I learnt to scuba dive, I’ve travelled solo, I have seen wonders of the world and stared in wonder at wild animals I had only ever seen in books or on TV before. I’ve even combined my two passions by volunteering at Wildlife Vet centres in Africa and  Asia.

In the past 10 years, I have grown more as a person.

I am more conscientious and extremely open-minded.

I am braver, more confident and a ton more independent.

I am more aware of our world and fell head over hills in love with its beauty. I have seen first hand the destruction we are doing to it and to the animals we share it with. Little by little I have made changes to my everyday life to help try to preserve it.

I honestly believe a vast amount of this is due to the places I have travelled to over the past 10 years. Travel has shaped the closed minded 20-year old into the open 30-year old I am today. For that, I am grateful and even more so to my boyfriend, for encouraging us to go that trip to Thailand.

I am by no means perfect now, but it is amazing to see what the past 10 years have done for me, and in a way, I cannot wait to see what type of person I will grow into in another 10 years time.

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