“Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you
ever wanted in one moment, would you capture or just let it slip?”
When I was in college and regularly eating cheap Chinese food, I once got the same fortune in my fortune cookie twice in the span of a month. Typically, I wouldn’t mind this if the fortune said something like “Great success is coming in your future” but the fortune was borderline insulting. Now I’m not really a religious person but I took it as a sign from… somewhere. It said: “You constantly struggle for self-improvement … and it shows.” For some strange reason, I always remembered these fortune cookies and I’m forever determined to prove them wrong.
So if you’ve read the blog before, you know that I’m going on my first sabbatical this year. Sabbaticals, by their very nature, are designed for professional and personal development. Professionally, I’m excited to work on the research that was the basis for getting this sabbatical approved, but I don’t want to overlook the opportunity for personal development as well. So like anyone else would do, I checked Google for how to accomplish this and the one theme I’ve read from people who have gone on sabbaticals before me is to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable…
But as the NY Times and those stupid fortune cookies pointed out, change and self-improvement are tough! Despite that, I’ve committed to taking this trip and to blogging about the experience. I’m an introvert and I’m also without a wife and kids which means I travel solo often… but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to talk about. In fact, as a professor and an INTJ, I am constantly processing all of the things that I see when I’m traveling… it’s just that to date most of those thoughts have been happening in my own head. But I feel like I want to reconnect with the world. It’s my path to self-improvement.
Again, I consider myself to be more of an introvert, maybe a 3 out of 10 on the introvert-extrovert scale, so solo travel generally isn’t that big a deal for me. However, six months of solo travel is a different story and I imagine I’ll have to try tip the introvert-extrovert scale in the other direction if I’m going to avoid loneliness and boredom. Consider this self-improvement goal #1. Fortunately for me, I often find meeting people abroad easier than meeting people at home so I’m optimistic I can accomplish this goal.
The experience of blogging is what I imagine will be a bit more uncomfortable for me. At the beginning of all of this, I had only posted a handful of times on either Facebook or Instagram and my only Twitter activity was entering contests… which I never won. So what can I say? I guess I don’t really like to put myself out there. Posting on social media (Instagram and Facebook) and on this website in an effort to create new connections or revitalize existing ones is self-improvement goal #2.
Yesterday, my 6-month journey began and I don’t really know where the entire experience will take me… but I’m excited to find out and I’m excited to share my thoughts along the way. I’m a super-organized person but when I travel I try not to go into a trip with preconceived notions of what my experience will be. I’d rather let the moment dictate how I think and feel. This trip is different than anything I’ve done before based on its length and my commitment to blogging but I’m trying to take that same approach anyway. So besides planning flights and lodging, the only thing I’m preparing for is to feel something that I’ve never felt before… and I think I’ll be better for it!