By: Rachel Benbrook, Guest Blogger
“In order to know what is good you must travel.” Recently, I got a desire to see the world (I blame Eat Pray Love for creating my wanderlust).
Before I became a world traveler I grew up in a small town in western Oklahoma surrounded by the most incredible loving and supportive family and friends anyone could ask for. I graduated from college and made friends and experiences to last a lifetime.
I never thought of living anywhere else until one day I stumbled across an advertisement for an English teaching position in Beijing, China. Being a wide-eyed college senior who was vastly unsure of the future and two months away from graduation I took the flier.
I don't know what possessed me to take such a risk, but I am so glad I did.
My summer in Beijing was incredible. I fell in love with my students, the culture, and the experience. Each day was a unique adventure as I taught my students, volunteered with orphanages, and explored the sites around me. I grew in ways I can't even begin to describe. I then came to England to complete my master’s degree. I found my new love of teacakes and scones (as well as a real life romance).
Living in two foreign countries has given me an extreme sense of gratitude for my upbringing. I have never been more appreciative of where I come from, and at the same time I have never been more thankful that I took the chance to expand my horizons. I constantly have my views and perceptions challenged, and now when I encounter differences in others, I am able to embrace them with a broad mind and a full heart.
Living abroad isn't the only way to challenge yourself. Anytime you join a new organization, meet a new friend, or try a new hobby, you are expanding your world. I think everyone should surround themselves with people who can challenge their perspectives of the world.
Whether it is volunteering with a new charity, having a conversation with a friend who practices a different religion, or taking a new dance class you never thought you would try, these seemingly small steps can have a great impact on your personal development, and your worldviews.
To quote the famous author and world traveler Elizabeth Gilbert “If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”
We grow when we regard all those we meet on our journeys as teachers. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Try new things, get to know new people, and challenge yourself to expand your own horizons. You may find that when you do so, you have a greater appreciation for the world around you, as well as everything else in your life. Expanding your horizons not only makes you more tolerant of others, it makes you love yourself along the way.
Don’t wait. Start exploring, loving and growing today. Try new things, and never be afraid to challenge yourself in whatever way you choose!
Let's Chat! Whether your growth comes from an overseas adventure or trying out a new hobby, what matters most is the experience! Tell us about yours here!
Rachel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and the University of Leeds where she studied Political Communications. She is a passionate advocate of strong friendships, caffeine, social justice, current events, travels and adventures, as well as all things peanut butter. She enjoys watching Parks and Recreation, as well as teaching English to new language learners.