27 Lessons Learned Since Announcing the Big CYOP Road Trip // creatingyourownpath.com

A year ago this week, I was officially committing to driving across the country for my longest CYOP road trip to date. What an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, difficult, wondrous, magical, fulfilling 52 weeks it's been, my friends.

Since deciding to make that road trip dream a reality, I've said yes to things that scare the daylights out of me. I've found peace in my own company. I've done my best to show up for those who needed me to show up. I've cried and cried and cried. I've smiled and smiled and smiled. I've met dozens of incredible artists, makers, writers, builders, creators, designers and collaborators who have altered the way I look at the world.

I know. It sounds dramatic, but taking big steps toward the unknown taught me things. Big things. Little things. Things I cannot (will not, should not) unlearn.

In no particular order:

  1. I've learned that it's okay to put work first and that it's equally okay to put work second (or third or fourth).
  2. I've learned that things will not always be as they are right now and that's something to be celebrated.
  3. I've learned that if you genuinely approach people with curiosity and mutual interest, they will almost always be willing to lend a hand. 
  4. I've (re)learned that we all come from different backgrounds and that, even though we might see things differently, we're all working with the same handful of emotions and we often strive for many of the same things in life.
  5. I've (re)learned how to be gracious and forgiving and kind.
  6. I've learned that not everyone is going to give me the same level of graciousness, forgiveness and kindness, but that's their path to walk — not mine.
  7. I've learned that science cannot cure all things (I'm looking at you, cancer), but that love can be given without restraint. It may not heal all things, but it's worth giving nonetheless.
  8. I've learned that mindset is EVERYTHING and that doing hard, scary, big things in life requires a level of fortitude I didn't even realize I possessed.
  9. I've learned that it's okay to push through resistance.
  10. I've also learned that it's okay to press pause, take a break and reassess.
  11. I've learned that it's okay to ask for help.
  12. I've (re)learned that life can change in an instant and that anything worth doing is worth doing now, if possible.
  13. I've learned that we tend to put people on pedestals in this world and that those people are just like you and me. They're no better, no worse — just human.
  14. I've learned to share some things publicly and deal with other things privately.
  15. I've learned that some people will pass judgement when they don't understand or have access to the full story — and that sometimes the full story is none of their business, anyway.
  16. I've (re)learned that everyone is fighting a battle I may not fully understand and I need to be better at reserving my own judgement.
  17. I've learned that if I tell jokes while speaking in front of a crowd it calms my nerves a bit.
  18. I've also learned that I will never NOT be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd.
  19. I've learned that I'm pretty okay with my social awkwardness. Turns out, some people will find it charming (who knew?) while others will be embarrassed on my behalf. As long as I'm cool with it, all is well. 
  20. I've learned that it feels awesome to be the connector in a situation, rather than always being the person doing the thing. We don't always have to be the person doing the thing.
  21. I've learned that, while I live in a great big country, nothing is all that far away if I've got the time and means to get to where I'm going.
  22. I've learned that prioritizing my time and my means is the best way to pursue my dreams.
  23. I've learned that others will question those priorities because they don't understand why my priorities are different from their priorities. I've also learned that those discussions are less about offering justification for my choices and more about offering a different point of view.
  24. I've learned that those who I've met along the way are some of the most resilient and wise people I know.
  25. I've learned that I have preferences in how I work, but that, if I must, I can accomplish big things from anywhere in the world. 
  26. I've learned how much doing the big scary thing can change a person and that it's what I do with all of that new self-knowledge that really matters.
  27. I've learned that I am (and, by extension, you are) not alone.

I've learned a lot over the last year and I have that beast of a road trip to thank for most of it. Obviously, I think it's important to reflect on what we've learned, but I also think it's important to stop thinking and start doing. It's in the doing of the thing where all of the difficult, wondrous, terrifying, amazing magic happens. We just get to hang on, enjoy the wild ride and keep learning the lessons over and over again.

Onward, my friends. I hope you're pondering, doing, thinking and then jumping in and doing some more. When's the last time you did something that felt HUGE and learned something from it? Tell me what you're up to in the comment section!