Adult puberty is like puberty you experience during your pre-teens minus the braces and your terrible fashion sense. We all go through it at some point in our lives. Some of us will get out of it, some will not.
The twenties is a period of uncertainty, self-discovery, and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life – that’s what they all say. And it’s true. Adult puberty is this chaotic mess where we’re either searching or creating the person we want to be. Everyone will undergo different experiences, some may not have these experiences. But regardless of the next chapter in your life, it’s all about the process and the journey you undergo that enables you to grow and develop.
In my senior year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I was lost.
I hoped to do something more with the world and I felt university could help me grow and provide opportunities for that. I just never thought I could do it. By having an I-probably-can’t-do-it mindset, I was my own barrier to moving forward.
If my seventeen year old self were to look four years ahead of her life, she would have never have imagined how much closer she is to the stars.
I took a lot from this unadventurous, treacherous, stressful first year. One regret I have is not going out and not making an effort to meet new people.
Explore the unknown.
We have so much to see and offer in our community. I was so absorbed in my own world and obsessed with studying I did not take care of myself at all. I held unreasonably high expectations for myself. I didn’t eat, I hardly slept, and dragged my body to school until it collapse.
Please take care of yourself.
Don’t wait until you pass out in a classroom.
It’s a little embarrassing.
And if you’re ever struggling during midterm season and wondering if all you’re suffering will ever be worth it in the end, just know you’re probably not alone in thinking that. It may not look like it but chances are everyone else is struggling as well. Another lesson I’d like to pass on to other students is never let a bad mark bring you down. Grades do not define who you are and what you can offer as an individual. Failure is alright because surprisingly, it’s actually the key to success. Mistakes are inevitable but they’ll give you opportunities to make things better.
Take your time.
Enjoy what life has to offer.
School is important, but so is your life.
Go out and enjoy it.
You may only be able to do it at that time and age once.
This year was so exciting because I was able to transfer into dream university in the city I’ve always wanted to live in.
I was amazed at the campus culture and how internationally diverse the student population was. I was surrounded by brilliant, bright, and accomplished people. I felt very intimidated but at the same time I was inspired. The downside to a big campus is it’s too big. It was harder to make friends, class sizes were huge, and professors for the most part didn’t even know half of the students they taught. I felt alone. I began involving myself in campus activities which helped and I made some amazing friends and discovered as well as gained many memorable experiences. I explored a lot during this year.
I was so excited to move out and be independent. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this but this is the time where we think we’re all grown up and we know everything and have it all figured out.
If you haven’t found out already, you’re wrong.
In trying to find what I wanted for myself, I was involved in casual relationships that came and went.
I got caught up in one only to get entangled into a mess I couldn’t get myself out of.
I began to question my identity.
Who was I?
I didn’t know.
But I wanted to know.
I wanted to mould myself into a person I knew I could be proud of so I decided to get out there by traveling to Vietnam in the summer to discover my roots and find lost family.
This trip changed everything. It was a journey of self-discovery and it elicited another side of myself I didn’t even know existed.
The atmosphere was saturated with chaos, unknown sights, sounds, and smells which excited me. I never felt more alive. It was in that moment where I understood this was who I was. A wanderer. The world is a big interconnected place and the friends and momentary relationships formed will impact you in ways you’ve never even imagined. I took a step out of my comfort zone and that was when my life truly began.
Vietnam held a lot of intangible moments and experiences for me. It was wild, dangerous, chaotic, dramatic, and crazy.
I came back to school feeling empowered and inspired but it was this year where I was challenged with one of the most difficult obstacles of my life. I came back thinking I had my life and the world all figured out. But I was so wrong. Life has its way of showing you otherwise.
My lola had a stroke and was in critical condition. She lived on the other side of the globe. Though I’ve only met her once, I had such a strong attachment to her. This threw my world off balance. It hurt to think I may never see her again. On top of other ordeals, my mind began to get murky and foggy. In ignoring the transforming state of my mind, I allowed darkness to fester breeding demons that poisoned my mind with destructive thoughts and distorted thinking dragging me into an abyss. In the subsequent months that followed, this silent, malicious force grew until it was too overwhelming to handle.
I fell apart.
I woke up every day questioning my existence and wishing for my non-existence.
I couldn’t eat, I had constant headaches, and I was unable to absorb or process anything properly. I was a moving shell who operated methodically with no reason or purpose. In continuing to not acknowledge my current state, I created illusions and sought to keep myself busy.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Falling back on casual relationships, my actions were a cry for help and I longed to remove a mask that concealed my inner demons and pain.
For some reason I wanted to be vulnerable with someone. I’ve never felt so alone in my life. I was trapped in an isolated bubble. I began thinking to myself I can acknowledge its existence or continue to let it gnaw at me until I ceased to exist.
I wanted change.
So I decided to do something about it.
Recovery came when I faced the demons head on and acknowledged its existence. I had depression. And I needed help. I disclosed this dark secret to my best friends and family and it felt like a weight was lifted off of me. In attending counselling and therapy on campus, I slowly began to reconnected with friends and opened myself up to the world.
Recovery welcomed itself to me in the form of a spark which ignited into a flame and morphed into a tranquil light that shed a path out of the bottomless pit I drowned in.
I began to find purpose in myself again through training for a trek I was committed to undertake in Peru.
Don’t turn a blind eye to your emotions or state of mind.
Demons will take advantage of you that way.
Therapy is not a one time fix for mental health, I had to acknowledge these demons were a part of me. They will resurface when I am challenged with negativity and barriers in my life.
To cope with these demons is to accept the world is out of our control. We are better off redirecting our energy to the things we do have control over like our mindset or our passions. Negativity is short-lived and it’s within your power to choose to let it go or let it affect your life.
Peru created a new lens for how I saw life. I found inner strength in my solitude and I realized I didn’t need someone to fall back on.
It’s just me, myself, and I!
And I’m okay with that. If I can drag my body through the Andes, I can do anything. I stepped even further out of my comfort zone backpacking alone in a country with a culture and language I was not familiar with. Through this experience I came to understand people and places will come to you at the right time and place.
Things happen for a reason.
It may not make sense right now but the pieces will fall together in the future.
You will discover there is kindness and good people in this world.
Give them a chance.
Make an effort to dispel your misconceptions.
You’d be surprised.
In reaching the endpoint of my journey, I realized there’s no such thing as impossible. We all have within us the inner strength to breathe life to our dreams.
Everything that has happened to you in the past will lead you to this moment. Reflecting back on everything that has happened so far, I’ve come to appreciate even more my parents who have sacrificed and put themselves before my brother and I. In living on my own, I begun to appreciate and see in a different perspective everything they have done for me. Nothing inspires me even more than watching my parents work hard to create a bright future for us. Love your parents. Because they have done nothing but loved you back and invested their time on a bright future for you.
The things we take for granted now are the things we come to appreciate even more in the future.
New knowledge and truths will give voice to itself.
We are only human.
At this moment in time, my lens are clear. They are knowing and they look at the world through forgiveness and acceptance. But they are dynamic and will change throughout my life course. Yours will too. As long as you can keep them clear, you’ll be able to move forward in the direction you want to go.
Surviving adult puberty will be different for everyone but to do so is to:
Live a life you will not want to regret.
Involve yourself in the pursuit of happiness.
Go on spontaneous adventures.
Cultivate a positive mind.
Follow your heart.
Meet new people.
Because we’re all in this together. And you are not alone.
What’s your story and where will it take you?
“Seeing amazing places are great, but it’s the people and the memories that you share with others that gives travelling so much meaning. I have discovered a lot about myself. Change came for the better. And with change also came acceptance.”
Welcome to my travel blog! Last year I went to Vietnam and this year, I decided to do a solo backpacking trip to Peru.
Interestingly enough, the comments from friends and people were always the same:
Me: “Why not.”
“So who are you going with?”
Me: “I’m going by myself”
“EHHH?! Damn, you’re a brave soul.”
I have never quite understood these reactions. I’ve been given odd looks as if I were crazy. Even my doctor looked at me as if I was possessed by demons!
Yes, travelling alone in a foreign country seems a bit intimidating (and kind of crazy) but I’ve never really had that kind of fear. Doing these kinds of things are second nature to me. I’m always curious. I try not to let fear hold me back. And I have been successful with that on this trip as I did many things for the first time such as rafting, zip lining, and hiking. I have taken many important lessons and even had some eureka moments during my journey. I will share some of them with you. The rest you can figure out your own life lessons on your adventures.
Lesson 1: In this world, there is good in people and places where you would least expect it. For the most part, we are governed by our own assumptions and perceptions of people and places. It takes courage and an open mind to seek the truth, dispel preconceptions, and understand why things are the way they are.
Pros and Cons to Backpacking
Cons: Backpacking is hard. Well for me at least. Physically carrying a giant backpack equivalent to a luggage with wheels is too heavy for me to carry.
I’ll admit I feel the need to bring lots of things that are probably not really necessary. But I always justify bringing it anyways by convincing myself I’ll have a use for them (but I never use them on the trip). The backpack I used was 70L. I carried almost 50 lbs on my back and it was towering over my head threatening to drag me down if I got unlucky and tripped (Tip: You should pack aiming for a weight at most 15% of your body weight). You have to prioritize what you need to bring because you have such a limited space. And you can only carry so much.
Pros: It’s convenient because you can just easily pack, get up, and go.
Fortunately many hostels provide lockers and storage space to leave your stuff if you leave for a bit.
You learn the value of absolute essentials and what’s not important enough bring. And you cut down on your spending due to limited space in your bag.
By spending I meaning shopping for yourself. I’m a bit of a shopaholic and I love buying clothes. Carrying a travellers backpack helped me save lots of money!
Preparing for Peru
For a while, I really wanted to visit Machu Picchu. So I did my research.
Things to research before travelling to a place:
- Health (i.e., outbreaks, disease, risks)
- Tourist attractions
- Daily expenses
- Customs (e.g., appropriate attire, tips)
- Best time to travel
I found you have the option of taking the trains (which are expensive) or get there by various treks. I decided on doing a trek because I wanted a challenge and something different. Originally I wanted to do the Inca Trail but it was booked till July. It’s so popular you have to reserve 8 months in advance. I didn’t even know I’d go to Peru in that time. So I booked another trek that lasted 4 nights and 5 days named “The Alternate Inca Trail.” Funny story. I was looking into the trek and learned the Salkantay Trek was the most difficult hike and is recommended for experienced hikers. I have never hiked before and I was not physically active so I didn’t want to do that. I did train for the trek I reserved in February. I trained harder in March after I found out through email the Alternate Inca Trail was actually the Salkantay Trek! I thought I’d be screwed. It really motivated me to do some really intense cardio and strength resistance training for at least an hour a day 5-6 times a week.
Looking back, I’m happy I was oblivious to what I was getting myself into. I’ve met so many people along the way throughout my journey working towards conquering Machu Picchu. I’ve met a friend during my school semester that was passionate about working out. He was pretty ripped so I asked him to help me out in the gym. His name is Taru. He’s now a certified trainer if anyone needs help getting started working out. We became really good friends. I would have never been able to get through my training if it wasn’t for Taru and a whole slew of other friends cheering me on and working out with me.
As for travelling around Peru, I did not plan anything. It was the best decision I had ever made for this trip. The moment I set foot in Peru, I had a full schedule of tours, activities, and chilling with friends. I learned from Vietnam many of the same tours offered online are so much more expensive than if you were to book the same thing locally in the country. There are a diversity of activities and places offered that you cannot find or research on your own online so this year I decided to just go with the flow.
Tip: Don’t book too much of your tours online. Wait to you get to your actual location before you do it. You may be interested in other activities so have your itineraries flexible but at least have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do.
“If the universe is like water and you flow with it, you’ll be led to where you need to be.” – Michelle Phan.
This quote resonated with me on this trip and I can confidently say it’s true. Sometimes we’re too caught up with things far into the future we forget to appreciate what’s given to us in the present moment. It’s fine to plan things for the future but think of your plans as a template. You have an idea of it but you are not committed to it in case life throws you something new and better.
At the beginning of my school semester, I felt a sense of I dread. I was disheartened by many things and wasn’t ready to go through another semester. What kept me going was spontaneously booking my trip to Peru. It was a difficult semester as I was dealing with depression. I still do not feel comfortable talking about it to this day. I have the irrational belief that people would be uncomfortable or judge me because of what I went through. The topic surrounding mental health is still a stigma in society as it’s not acknowledged as an actual disease. But what you go through is very real. And very painful. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to understand it or explain to others.
I had a hard time getting through school. Fortunately, I was able to get the help I needed before it escalated further. I now have the self-awareness and hopefully the resiliency to face internal and external challenges should I ever fall back into that dark place.
Three days before my trip, I received some upsetting news. My lola had passed away. An important figure who taught me unconditional love exists and to face the world with kindness and smiles was gone. It really struck a cord and brought out renewed sadness for every obstacle and pain that I had gone through during that last school semester.
I was grieving in Peru, but I was also undergoing changes. I have discovered a lot about myself and have come to understand a lot of my habitual tendencies. Change came for the better. And with change also came acceptance.
There were many unfortunate incidences on this trip. The first one that happened was losing my debit card at my first layover in Mexico City. I lost my credit card one week after this so I had limited funds for a short amount of time. For the debit card, I don’t think it was stolen. I most likely may have left it in an ATM machine and forgot to retrieve it. I found out I didn’t have it right before I was boarding. I talked to customer service at Aeromexico but they said to just call my bank to get a new one. Going through that amount of stress was not fun. I had many questions circulating in my head. Questions like What if someone took all the money I had in my bank account? Will I have enough for this trip? Was it a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this trip?
I remember looking out at the window of the airplane and seeing the view of the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful. I stared at it for a good fifteen minutes. Forever etched in my memory, I will remember how brightly the sun shone despite being covered by a blanket of dark, black clouds. Its rays penetrated and illuminated the clouds. You’re going to laugh but that scene was how I envisioned heaven to be. There was some magic to that scene. My fears and doubts disappeared, I felt that sunset was sending me a message, maybe it was a sign from my lola telling me everything was going to be okay. That incident was a reminder of how much I still wanted to go to Peru despite everything that has happened. As the plane descended into Lima airport, my neighbour on the plane told me the same thing I was feeling when I watched the sunset.
Everything was going to be okay. It will all work out in the end.
There were periods where I was in fact alone. I wanted to be alone. I found out I liked being alone a lot actually. During that period I had the space to think, reflect, and grieve. It gave me the time to heal from wounds and old scars.
I have met many friends from across the globe on this trip and so I’ve never really been alone. I don’t think there’s such a thing as travelling alone because you’re always meeting new people. Meeting other travellers who I could relate to and just get it. People who get why it’s awesome to travel alone and be curious to see as much of the world as we possible can. It was comforting to meet a few of these travellers. There’s a misconception that people travel and escape because they’re unhappy with their life. There is some truth to that I’ll admit but I don’t think that applies to everyone who loves putting themselves out there.
One thing that had a significant impact on me was the people I’ve met and shared a connection with in the short amount of time I was there. Seeing amazing places are great, but it’s the people and the memories that you share with others that gives travelling so much meaning.
It amazes me the people that we converge with at some point in our lives. How we meet at the right place and time. I believe these encounters happen for good reason. Perhaps they have an impact on your world views which may be minor or significant. Regardless, the experiences you share together may be treasures you hold as permanent memories. I’ve taken a lot of things from these interactions such as what I want and what I deserve through these friendships.
THE SALKANTAY TREK
Covering 72 km of trekking and reaching an altitude of over 4000 m, the Salkantay Trek is a challenging trek recommended for the most experienced hikers.
I don’t agree you need to be a hiker to do this trek. Six of us have never hiked before in our lives and we took on the most challenging one. I did train 3 months in advance for this hike and it definitely paid off. The altitude was really hard on my lungs as I was huffing and puffing for hours, but I was still able to keep going.
Day two and day five was the most physically challenging days. Hiking for about 9 hours on day 2 and 4 hours of going up and down the stairs, I’ve lost about six pounds.
MY TRAINING ROUTINE FOR MACHU PICCHU:
Work out for an 1 hr – 1 hr 30 mins at least 5-6 days a week.
- 15-20 mins of cardio on the treadmill. Have the incline between 6-10.
- Strength resistance training
- Leg workouts (e.g., lunges, squats, leg press)
- Ab workouts (to strengthen your core)
From Aguas Caliente, you have the option of taking the stairs or the bus up to Machu Picchu. My whole group decided to take the stairs up and I figured why not? We walked all this way, I may as well. It would feel more satisfying anyways.
I got up at 4 am and walked 20 minutes from the town to the entrance of the bridge that leads to the 3000 steps up to Machu Picchu. It was pitch dark so having a flashlight was an absolute must. I had no idea how to get to the bridge so I just followed a group of travellers who were far into the distance praying they were going the same way as I was.
Once the gates opened at 5 am, I climbed the 3000 steps. Average time to get up is about an hour. I finished in 40 minutes completely drenched in sweat. When we reached Machu Picchu, we watched the sunrise and I was in awe.
Lesson 3: I worked for months to get to where I was. I understood at that moment that there was no such thing as impossible. We all have the capacity to do anything we set our minds to. The biggest obstacle we have is ourselves. What’s really scary is when we stop ourselves from doing something we think we can’t do.
Machu Picchu, the small city that housed 400 inhabitants, its identity hidden by the protection of the mountains. I pondered what it would have been like to live in this small city and contrast it to our lives in modern times. Life was so simple back then and people really didn’t need much. Life was good if you had enough to meet your basic necessities and enjoy in the company of others. Our lives are so complex now. Its intertwined through globalization and coupled by technology that enables us to live longer, travel farther, and increase our wealth. Some of us do not feel satisfied with what we have and always feel the need to have more (I can be guilty of this at times) so we’re never really satisfied.
The city was discovered only 100 years ago and 60% of it still remains a mystery hence the reason why it’s one of the seven wonders of the world. Now this city was for the upper class people who held occupations such as artisans, butchers, etc. The common people lived down in the mountains. There are two prominent mountains by the city, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Mountain meaning Old and New Mountain. The city was incomplete as the Incas fled the city to hide in the jungle when the Spaniards arrived and invaded Peru.
I hiked up Machu Picchu mountain with some of the members of my group and it took a friend and I an hour and forty minutes to get to the top. It’s all stairs going up. It. Was. Hell. You never know when you reach the top because it feels like it’s never ending. It’s really discouraging as you climb up but you feel a sense of accomplishment and sense of relief when you reach the top.
My travel agency ViewPeru was amazing! They addressed any questions and concerns I may have had prior to the trip and our guide Willy, was awesome! Everyone there was so friendly. I would recommend this agency. If you’re interested in the Salkantay Trek or other treks, the link for the itineraries and the locations to where you go is here.
USEFUL TRAVEL APPS
Before or during my travels, I download a ton of useful apps that have helped me a lot on my trip. I like to do them well ahead of time as I learned in Peru, many places do not have great Wifi, some airports don’t even offer Wifi! There is a way around it I learned. Most of the restaurants have it but you have to buy food to get the password. That really blew my mind (first world problems). It took half an hour for a Facebook friend request to be sent once. Below is a list of apps you may find useful on your journey.
- Duolingo (Language)
- Booking.com Hotels (Hostel bookings included!)
- Hopper (Airfare price prediction)
- Google map (or another offline map)
#1: Having a language app is a quick and easy way to learn at least the basics of the language of your destination. It’s not enough if you’re staying in a country for a long time but it’s good to refer to. This app helps you learn the basics in the form of a game which is a lot of fun. Learning at least the basics is important if you’re going into a country where majority of the population may not speak english fluently. Also, you will not draw too much attention to yourself or be taken advantage of. An example is getting around the markets or catching a taxi. If you’re purchasing foods or souvenirs, if you can speak their language well, they will for the most part assume you’re local or you’ve been there long enough to know the prices of items so they will not rip you off too much.
#2 & 3: These were really handy to have. If I forgot to book a place for a night, I can just look at which hostels had available rooms and I can reserve and sometimes even pay immediately. If you’re a last minute person, these apps are great to have to find last minute lodging that’s available.
#4. Whether you decide spontaneously to book a flight to another nearby country or for whatever reason need to book a flight earlier or later, this is a great app to have that predicts airfare prices. It will suggest when to buy or when to wait. It even has charts on the average price of airfare tickets at a certain month.
#5. This doesn’t need to be questioned. It’s safe to say we all need maps to get to where we need to go.
I’m not going to get to much into my trip. I did a whole bunch of cultural tours and activities near Cusco or Lima. If you’re ever interested in Peru or have any questions, feel free to leave either a comment or directly message me. I recommend going to Peru. The culture and beauty of that country is beyond words. I wouldn’t mind going back again someday. If you would like to see the places I’ve been to, check out my travel vlogs! Link is posted below:
Lesson 4: We spend most of our life rediscovering ourselves over and over again. An old version of ourselves dies but a new one is reborn again.
Fun Random Facts About Peru
Disclaimer: Some of these facts are entirely from my own observations, experiences, and what I’ve heard.
1. Top Travellers in Peru
- Lone Travellers
- Group of friends
2. Peru once had a Japanese president. He is in prison due to corruption and crimes against humanity. His daughter is currently campaigning to become the next president.
3. There are over 4000 varieties of potatoes in Peru.
4. Quinoa is a staple and originated from Peru.
5. The Spaniards pronounce Cusco as “Cuz-co.” In Quechua, it’s pronounced as “Cost-co.”
6. Lima is the food capital. Many culinary tours are offered.
7. Pisco is the national alcoholic drink.
8. The president a couple of years ago made Pisko run through the fountains in the Plaza de Armas in Lima.
9. The Incas spoke quechua and it is still a language spoken today.
10. Because of the high altitude, Cusco is cold. Puno is colder.
11. Coca leaves are legal in Peru as it is often used medicinally for altitude sickness. It sold as candies, teas and chocolates.
12. Coca tea is really good. I drank it every day. The leaves are used to make cocaine.
Lesson 5: Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Have the courage to follow your own convictions. Do you. One of the keys to happiness is letting go of what others think of you, prioritizing the things that mean a lot to you, and doing the things that make you happy.
Whatever adventures you may have whether it’s out exploring more of your own city or discovering a new country, may you enjoy the sights and sounds of a new culture and may you do it with an open heart.
Peru, gracias por los recuerdos.
I can’t wait to see where my next adventures will take me.
Adios chicos! Till next time.
This has been the life motto I’ve lived by for years and with each passing year, I’ve come to learn more about myself and perhaps the meaning of life. Important lessons such as happiness is absolutely essential and the fact that time is precious are the philosophy that I carry with me. Whether or not the people or friends you meet are temporary or lifelong, they are still precious. Friends don’t have to stay in your life for a long time for them to be considered special. For the twenty years I’ve lived on this earth, I’ve met people who have added sunshine to my life when I was drowning in the dark. Oddly enough, they always seem to appear at the right place and time. This greatly supports my theory that things happen for a reason. We were meant to converge with others at some point in our life at precisely a specific time. Now that’s just a theory. I don’t know if it’s actually true but I think it’s pretty legit.
The reason why embracing life fearlessly is my motto sounds cliche but it’s the fact that we are presented with one-of-a-kind chances that can carry us further in life. Think about it, the most awful thing you could ever experience near the end of your life is regrets. What’s worse is you can never go back and change what you know now. There’s no such thing as time travelling, at least not yet. So trust your instincts. Because at the end of the day or even looking farther ahead, at the end of your life, what do you want to remember? What you’ve done or what you could’ve done?
I haven’t met anyone who has not asked me why I do what I do. The FAQ’s are all the same. How is it that I’m brave, adventurous, or even fearless? Well I’ll tell you. It’s simple. I’m just that type of person. I’m all those things because I’m curious. I’ve learn to cultivate my curiosity by not considering the potential barriers that may stop me from doing the things I want to do. That in turn drives me to do things I would have never expected myself to do. It pushes me towards the direction of growth and learning. In summary, it’s an eat, pray, love kind of thing. You have to understand life is limitless. If you set limits for yourself, you will never reach your full potential. Try something new and take on that challenge. Don’t be afraid of failure because you learn valuable stuff from it. And that my friend is one of the keys towards success and happiness.
Because I’m so nice, and in case some of you didn’t feel to read the whole post entirely, I’ve condense it all into a list.
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!