I grew up a complete tomboy and girl jock. I also grew up the youngest of 3 children, so I was always trying to prove myself to my older siblings. If they were in the backyard throwing a football or shooting baskets, I wanted to be just as good as them. This competitive side of me was mostly driven by the fact that I was dying to fit in with them.
I’m a competitive person by nature. I was a 3 sport varsity athlete in high school, and most of the reasons why I was successful as an athlete was because I never wanted to lose. It could be the state championship or a game of checkers; if there was anyway to keep score I was in it to win it.
In the sports world, the currency is points. You score more points, you win the game. In the social media world the currency is likes, shares, and followers. You post pretty pictures, or trendy quotes and words, people like your stuff, share it, and follow you. This is just the way our world works. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media! But I also know that the currency of social media isn’t necessarily the currency we should be using in other aspects of our lives.
Travel is one of my favorite things in the entire world. Being able to get to know different parts of the US and even different parts of this world has truly changed my life for the better. I see so many other people, who like me, are so thankful for all that travel has done for them. At the same time, I notice sometimes travel being used as a method of competition.
Jealously and competition are completely normal parts of life, and I am just as guilty as the next person. I see travel blogger so-and-so has been to 25 countries and a digital nomad for 3 years. The competitive side of me thinks, “man I’ve only been to 13 countries, and I’m not a digital nomad at all. I need to catch up!”
But when I sit back and think about it, I know the truth. I have no desire to be a digital nomad. The 13 countries I have been to, have each been remarkable. I’ve meet people, learned about new cultures, drank local beer, and ate local food from all over the world. How dare I try to degrade all those people and cultures I’ve gotten to know to just by thinking of them as a stamp in a passport or as a way to keep up in the travel blogging world.
I’m not saying visiting dozens of countries isn’t super cool, but for me personally I don’t ever want my travels to be turned into something I’m competitive over. When I think about all of my travel experiences. I don’t think about crossing something off a list, or about a new stamp on my passport. Even though I love both of those aspects of travel, they’re not the reason I travel. I travel to meet people who are different than me, to get to know new cultures, to experience climates and terrains that are totally different from anything I’ve ever seen.
Travel has helped me do so many things. A lot of them are things I can’t cross off a list or really even describe. In fact, most of them aren’t things at all — they’re memories and moments that will stay with me forever. Travel has ruined me, saved me, opened my mind, made me scared, confused, lost, hopeful, tolerant, the list is endless. I don’t ever want to get to the point where travel doesn’t hit me right in my heart; where I’m using travel as a bragging right, or as a way to compete with other people, or especially other bloggers.
I don’t write this with anyone in mind or to call anyone out. In fact, I’m mostly writing it for myself. Because I know the measurements of success our world lives by, and I know my tendency to be competitive. Being inspired by other people and their travels is amazing. It’s what I hope to do for all my readers and social media followers. But I also know for myself, personally, there is a fine line between being inspired and trying to keep up with others.
I don’t want to travel to 150 countries just to say I did it, or just to fill up a passport. What I want more than having “traveled to 35 countries” written across my social media bio, is to be able to look at the stamps in my passport and have 100 memories and moments that take me right back to that place.