I often hear people in my generation say, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” However, I barely ever hear Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female in the continent of Africa to serve as the 24th President of Liberia, receive the credit for her brilliant observation. The quote in its entirety states, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” I personally think of this quote often, and proceed by justifying if I find myself fearful when thinking of things I would like to accomplish then I am on the right track.
I have been traveling to different states and different countries for as long as I can remember. I recall thinking I could potentially make a life of it after my parents treated me to an early graduation gift to Senegal and South Africa before I started my last semester at THE Morgan State University in the spring of 2011. In the spring of 2012, I took a trip to Australia and I believe it was then that I set myself apart from other travelers. The need for companionship became an afterthought after traveling sixteen hours on a plane solo, and spending the majority of my visit roaming Sydney neighborhoods with just a pocket sized guidebook from Travel Planet. I traveled to Sydney to visit a family friend. She was too preoccupied with coursework, at the University of New South Wales, to guide me around the city holding my hand, and I thank God for this small blessing. That trip put me on a path to trust myself to travel to any country on my list by myself without fear that I would be hurt, lost, or in danger.
People have different financial priorities: children, college debt, saving for a house or car just to name a few. Consistently waiting for a travel companion can leave your passport empty. I am not sure when I set the goal to travel to thirty countries before the age of thirty. I do recall being twenty-five with EIGHT countries under my belt and the fear that I had potentially set an unattainable goal. As time went on and years passed, I continued marking countries off my list. My jobs and finances aligned in a way that allowed me to travel to, on average, five counties a year. At some point, without blinking an eye, I was closer to my initial travel goal and embarrassed I doubted myself in the first place.
Before I set the thirty before thirty goal, I had the goal to visit the seven new wonders of the world by twenty-five and to visit all seven continents before 30. Life happens and even though I accomplished certain travel goals and chipped away at others, I honestly could not be any more proud of myself. On June 6, 2018, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina at the age of 29 years and 57 days marking my thirtieth country. My dad often jokes that when the man that is supposed to marry me finds me, he will have no place to take me because I have left my footprint on so many countries. I usually just laugh, never taking the time to disclose I have a short list of countries I am saving for my special someone.
Until then I will continue to travel to as many countries as I can, learning different cultures, dabbling in different languages, and meeting as many people as I can along the way. Celebrate with me my travel accomplishment, and feel free to make suggestions of countries I should visit next. I will need them as I continue to work on my second set of thirty.