Imagine you’re free from judgement, expectations, and responsibilities, then strip away every view ever forced on you. Don’t even think about how well you “fit in”, and forget about figuring out where you sit on the popularity scale.
What kind of a person exists after all that stuff is gone? Your authentic self, that’s who. Your authentic self is the “you” that’s confident, honest, and true to your values. According to Psychology Today, authenticity is also a “cornerstone of mental health”. It strengthens your vitality, self-esteem, and coping skills1.
Unfortunately, you can’t be authentic all the time. The authentic you can sometimes be an insensitive jerk, making it tough to get along with people. Instead of speaking your mind all the time, you need to bury the authentic you underneath a socially acceptable you. The problem is, it’s possible to get wrapped up in the person you’re supposed to be, instead of the person you want to be.
If you’ve lost touch with your authentic self, there’s a way to reconnect: travel. Getting out of your regular routine and pushing back on your comfort zone – not to mention freeing yourself from responsibility and prioritizing what you want – strengthen your inner voice.
Here are 5 ways you can use travel to help you discover your authentic self.
Get Away From Your Normal
Having a regular routine makes your life stable and comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. The more you pretend to be a different person, the more your authenticity disappears. Here’s how travel gets you away from the “normal” you.
- Ditch Your Responsibilities. People won’t be depending on you at work or at home, and you can do what you want to do, rather than what you have to do.
- Get a New Perspective. Ask yourself what parts of your life you actually like, and what parts have been running on autopilot.
- Get Uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable you become, the more you’ll discover what kind of a person you really are.
- Challenge Your “Normal”. Travel gives you a chance to think about your own “normal” critically. Notice which things in your life you’ve accepted without question and which truly resonate with you.
Start With a Clean Slate
It’s easy to keep doing what you’ve always done, but you get so used to it that you can’t recognize when you should be changing. Travel gives you a chance to try out changes and be the person you want to be instead of the person you’re used to being. Here are some ways to clean your slate.
- Don’t Fear Judgement. When you travel you have a chance to be your authentic self without fear of judgement – nobody knows your past, and you’re not likely to run into people you know.
- Try Something New. The more new experiences you have, the more you’ll discover about your interests and who you really are. Travel is a time for new foods, new places, and new experiences.
- Leave Negativity Behind. Dodging bad feelings sucks up time and energy, and getting away gives you a chance to act without worrying about haters. Taking a vacation can help you discover your authentic self by freeing you from the dark cloud of negativity.
Put Yourself First
As you’re burdened by more and more responsibility in your life, you can get so wrapped up in taking care of others that you stop taking care of yourself. Travel gives you time to focus on what makes you “you” so you can discover your authentic self.
- Do What You Don’t worry about what you’re supposed to do. Every moment of every day on your trip, your authentic self can be in charge of what you do.
- No More Guilt. When you feel guilty for not doing more for others, remember: you matter. Travel helps you visualize literally leaving your guilt behind. Sometimes you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
- Accept Yourself No Matter What. As you discover your authentic self, you may not like what you find. Away from a place where you feel obligated to fit in can help you come to terms with who you really are, and learn to love that person.
“Respect and value who you are. When you do, you set the standard for how others treat you.”2
Take Advantage of Time Out to Think
Daily life may not be full of downtime where you can stop and think deeply about your life and the person you’ve become. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to get the benefits of taking some time out to ask yourself some hard questions. A weekend getaway, or just spending time in a new place near your home can help.
- Make Sure You Have Some Downtime. At the beach, a restaurant, in a park, or just in a hotel room you can focus on yourself and your thoughts. This is time you can use to think about things that you’ve been putting off: what your future goals are, which of your friends you really don’t want to be friends with, or whether you’re ready for a career change.
- Visualize Your Ideal Life. Take time for critical thinking and ditching your preconceived beliefs, and you can come closer to visualizing the life you really want. And by visualizing it, you’re moving one step closer to making it happen.
Get in Touch with Your Emotions
Not an emotional person? You might find you’re emotional when you travel. This could be because of jet lag, poor sleep, different diet, or just perpetual excitement being in a new place. No matter the reason, something that makes you emotional is important to you. Rather than ignoring it, acknowledge it and it will help you discover your authentic self.
- Be Emotional. Emotions are who you really are. Not just shedding a tear at a beautiful sunset, but also dissolving into a blubbering mess at the bus station after a 5 hour delay. When you travel, practice allowing yourself to appreciate good moments, and forgiving yourself for outbursts.
- Learn from Your Emotions. Strong emotional reactions teach you about yourself. While traveling you’ll react to delicious food, beautiful views, and meeting new people. You’ll also experience powerful emotions like revulsion, desperation, and loneliness. Embrace them all, good and bad.
If you want to discover your authentic self, try taking a vacation. The time spent away from your responsibilities and obligations can help you form a fresh perspective on your life and where it’s going. Taking time out to think, and to figure out what you want builds self-confidence and is boosts mental health.
Becoming more authentic can start with travel, and it doesn’t have to stop when you arrive home. Don’t ignore the lessons you learn, and little by little you’ll become the kind of person you truly want to be.
Ready to get real? Read Picture Your Ideal Day. Want to Turn it into Your Ideal Life?