2013 was a year of travel and adventure. I lived in three different places, visited eleven countries and twenty cities, took over 10,000 photos, and wrote about as many words in blog entries, emails, and postcards home.
Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
Now I begin the new year facing the unknown. A few short months and I step outside the safety blanket of education and into the real world. And for the first time, I don’t have a clue where I will be or what my life will be like come May.
But I’m not scared. Because if I could sum up everything I have learned in the past twelve months, taking in everything I have done, all the things I’ve seen, all the incredible people I have met… Well, I would be able to give you a simple piece of advice to last you a lifetime:
Treat every day like a tourist.
I’ve lived in Boston for a while now. And I’m constantly amazed at all the things I have yet to do. And why? Because “real” residents don’t book Duck Tours? Well not anymore. This semester, Boston will be the best yet. Duck Tours, Freedom Trail, Swan Boats in the Common, hell what about a spontaneous road trip to Canada or Six Flags or New York. The most important thing I have learned is to stop holding myself back. Yeah this is my time to work hard and finish strong. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be having the time of my life crossing the finish line.
Even if my “Boston Bucket List” ends up being futile because I get a job and decide to stay forever. Even if I decide to move across the country and make it in Hollywood. Even if I’m home for a few days in the same suburb where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Even if I decide to forget the real world and travel around Asia after graduation.
Treat every day like a tourist. Push yourself every week to do something in your city you have always thought about doing but kept putting it off. Take your camera out to dinner and ask the waiter to take a picture of everyone at the table. Hop on the open-air bus and make your tour guide tell you every fun fact he knows. Go to a sporting event. Catch a Broadway show.
Because it’s funny how you can live somewhere and never visit it.
You take it for granted. You live there right? You can go to a game or show whenever you like. The city will always be there when you finally get the time to go out and enjoy it.
Nah. You live there now. Make the time now. Get to know it in a way that most people miss out on. As a local and a tourist. The surface and the deep end. The bright lights and the hidden corners.
That is about as simple as enjoying life gets. No matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, no matter anything else you have going on, make time and let yourself be a tourist. Learn to see your world through a pair of eyes that has never seen it before. Get your camera dirty with smudges of sunscreen. Collect shot glasses or magnets. Buy postcards in bulk and send them to anyone who has ever meant something to you.
Wake up in the morning with the determination to fall in love with your city all over again.
I hope everyone has a lovely 2014.