I quietly celebrated 10 years of vagabonding travel in January 2016. As part of the personal celebration, I reread my original travel journal (a one-kilogram tome!) and was shocked. I barely recognized the handwriting, not to mention the author behind those intimate thoughts.

Needless to say, reading that first journal was quality entertainment.┬áIt was also an epiphany of just how unpredictable this crazy life really is. Many times I laughed and shouted, “What were you thinking?!”

Without further ado, these are the first-to-mind lessons that I wish I had known back in 2006 when beginning a new life:

  • The first week is the toughest. Push through.
  • The shyness of traveling alone goes away.
  • You attract people and experiences depending on the type of energy you put out.
  • You will nearly die a few times in order to really live. The price is worth it, but sleep will be affected.
  • Goodbyes get harder, not easier.
  • You will see home with a completely new set of eyes.
  • There’s no such thing as a must-see place or landmark unless it really interests you. You’re the boss.
  • You will lose close friends at home, ones you never thought possible to lose. Personal change will make you incompatible but there won’t be bad blood.
  • Time is completely subjective. And relative.
  • After only a week of knowing someone, it is possible to fall in love, move in together, and talk of a future.
  • Answering only to yourself really calibrates your moral compass.
  • Reality is subjective. Everyone has an opinion. The only way to learn the truth is to go touch it.
  • Clean out the storage unit: you aren’t coming back!

If you’re beginning a new life of location independence, take heed. I swear upon the parasites in my bowels that all these lessons hold true.

You bought the ticket, so be prepared for a ride. But what I wish I had known is that we get to determine how the tracks are laid out.

Don’t just meander and bemoan being a victim. Start making choices.