Have you ever had a travel experience that taught you something about yourself?
For me, that trip was Belize in June of 2015. I traveled there as part of a group of 7 women, all of them family. While on the surface it was sunshine, laughter, adventure, and good eats, on a deeper level it was a beginning.
I’d been feeling lost and stuck for months prior (blame it on being in my twenties) and didn’t know what to do with myself. So, I threw myself into getting ready for and planning the entire trip. It was a blast reading about other people’s experiences, scouring TripAdvisor reviews, and reading guidebooks. What can I say? I’m a planner through and through. It took my mind off of the stress, uncertainty and disappointment in myself that I was feeling.
A little background: for most of high school I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life after graduation..until I found my way to a darkroom junior year. I had a natural eye for photography, although I kind of scoff at my stereotypical railroad track pictures now. My incredibly supportive parents drove me around to photo locations and patiently waited while I “got the shot.” For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I’d found something. I soon enrolled in art school and received my degree in photography.
In school, I created constantly and was surrounded by like-minded people who gave me sometimes harsh, but necessary, critiques of my work. Even when I thought I was burnt out, I could still create and improve. Yet when I graduated, I just kind of…quit. I can’t say what it was really. Too much pressure on myself to succeed? Laziness? Creative burnout? I think it was complete and utter lack of confidence. I was afraid, so I did what I always do when I am afraid…retreated to my safety bubble and stopped trying.
Over the years, my passion faded. I didn’t carry my camera everywhere with me and I let my fear of not being good enough overwhelm me. Belize changed that. I was excited to take my camera. I even got my camera CLEANED for the occasion. (Big deal. My poor camera.) And when I got there, I took a ton of pictures. More importantly, I was excited about them and having fun again. When I got home, I felt relieved. I’d been doubting my creativity and whether or not I was meant to pursue any form of photography at all, but this was the affirmation I needed to get over myself and start trying.
I came home and edited photos, but I also wanted to write. I didn’t want to be stuck. I reached out to a friend who has since turned into a mentor, and I wrote about my trip, my fingers not always able to keep up with my mind.
Looking back now, I truly appreciate that trip for the lesson it was. I learned that I can do things that scare me and overcome those fears. I learned how good it feels to push myself when things are scary and uncertain and then come out on the other side alive and well. I learned that creativity is my passion, along with helping others and using my creative talents to do so.
It was the food, the experiences, and the feeling of being present that made me feel so happy and alive in Belize. And upon coming home, I realized those are the things I love about living in Orlando too.
It’s the satisfaction of finding a new local restaurant around the corner, or laughing with complete strangers at a local brewery over a couple beers. It’s feeling exhilarated after spending 3 hours inside of a dark cave full of Mayan pottery and human remains climbing slippery rocks (and scary ladders – more on that later). Or the simple joy of finding a coconut stand at the downtown farmer’s market and sipping fresh coconut juice with someone you love, sitting by a lake while a stranger plays guitar in the background. These are the moments I live for and seek out. The great eats, the challenging and exciting experiences, and the simple moments. And through it all, photographing and writing about those things to preserve them as best I can.
Life, unfortunately, cannot be an endless vacation. But if we’re open to it, there are wonderful experiences to be had, foods to be discovered, and simple moments to be relished and celebrated no matter where in the world we are.
These are the things you’ll find here. Welcome to travel taste click!