Portraits of travelers
Is this it in life?! A question a lot of people my age are asking themselves. Me too. Since my graduation in the summer of 2014 I even ask myself this question daily.
The vision of the Western world of ‘picture perfect’ of being succesful and being happy, in my view, is making a big career, buying a house, having kids between the age of 30-35 years old and go on a holiday twice a year. But what is the vision of other people globally about what being succesfull and being happy includes?
Due to this trip I want to get to know other frames of references through discussing this with people from all over the world. Locals of the countries I’m visiting and other travelers I meet on my journey. What is their vision of life and what can we learn of them?
Venla Maki-Ikola (23) - Finland
One of the most die hard travelers I’ve ever met. Venla is traveling on quite a young age to different countries where most of us will never come. Countries like Somalia and Sudan, which are which are unsafe to visit as far as we should believe the media. But in how far do we need to trust our media and them telling us about the conditions of other countries? Venla wanted to create her own vision of the world and decided to create her own path by seeing it herself.
''I started traveling to broaden my horizons and change my worldview. I wanted to see the world differently. And there is a saying: ‘In order to see near you need to go far’.
In Western cultures success is mainly often measured by the amount of money you have, being married, having your own house, a permanent job and children. It’s a kind of a social norm. I believe it can make some truly happy, but this doesn’t apply to everyone. When looking deeper we can see that many people are missing something in their life. They’re not sure if this is what they want, but are too scared to step out of their comfort zone. I was one of them, but I won my fear and now I have created my own path.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and being able to be who you truly are is being succesful to me. I stepped out of my comfort zone because I love the feeling of adrenaline and overcoming fears. My first time I stepped out of my comfort zone was living in America and being in a dance team performing in front of thousands of people. I never thought I would have the courage to do that, but every performance made me trust in myself more and more and I became really confident and fearless. After that nothing has scared me in my life anymore.
You can find courage in stepping out of your comfort zone. When you overcome your fears, you’ll get stronger and have less anxiety for future events. I like fear, because it makes me stronger.
25% of my life I’ve been spending abroad and started traveling with my parents when I was a baby. I graduated in 2015 and I gained one year of work experience from my own field as a nurse during the summers. I try to work for four months a year, when in my home country Finland during the summer. After that I go back traveling for the rest of the year.
During my travels I volunteer to help other people and give as much to the vulnerable as I can. I have had a good life and I have been very lucky. When traveling I have also been treated really well. I feel like I need to give something back to the world and do something good. In the future I want to keep on traveling and in my late thirties I want to give home to an adopted baby from Africa, who might otherwise not have a good future.
I like to travel to places where there are not many tourists. Tourists have an effect on the culture and that way it is hard to find authentic experiences in touristic places. The best travel experience I have had was in Sudan. Sudan is like a whole different world. I have never been so welcomed to any place before. People skip their work, to help me finding the way and they even brought me to my final destination. Random people I met on the way wanted to pay my taxi, food or hostel. I have never experienced such a hospitable country before.
Everyone wants happiness in their life, it’s our essence and the reason to be alive. To me is the key to happiness love and freedom. Love makes you feel connected, which we need as human being. And being connected makes it easily to love everything surrounded by you.
Having good friends, being close to my family, the feeling of not being alone in this world and being able to do things I enjoy are examples how love appears to me.
Happiness doesn’t come when forced to do something. Endorphin, the happiness hormone, will be turned on by listening to music, hanging out with friends or doing sports. But there is a lot more than that. Happiness is the combination of many substances and the only way to find out the correct mixture of these substances is stepping out of your comfort zone. By stepping out of your comfort zone you are stepping out of the once created paths that might not have had the correct dough for your happiness.
We are all unique and special kinds of our own which is why I believe there is a different path for each of us. The only thing you need is a little courage to be able to find your own path to happiness. Create your own path.''