Let Go of the Eat, Pray, Love Expectations
The thing about unexpected adventures is that you have very little time to set expectations. Most of my greatest disappointments and heartbreaks have been born of high or unrealistic expectations. One of the most important internal shifts I felt from solo travel came from not expecting much, be it from the food stall I’d stumbled into for lunch or the strangers I’d just met in my hostel.
When we fully relinquish the ideal of stumbling upon the best bánh mì in town or meeting a forever friend to adventure with, we become open to the uninhibited beauty of the unexpected.
I felt visceral awe and unfiltered joy as I gazed out across a mountain range in Nong Khiaw, Laos, where from the top I was looking down on the clouds. This was a village completely unknown to me before I randomly hopped on a bus heading there because I had a few days to kill before a flight.
I felt genuine pangs of sadness as I said goodbye to three new friends I’d met early on and with whom I rappelled down waterfalls in Vietnam, ate green curry in Thailand, and whose advice and friendship I came to rely on as I was thousands of miles and a 12-hour time difference away from my friends and family in the US.
It turns out that not having time to plan for what you expect to feel cracks open a level of authenticity I’ve only experienced half a world away from home.