I saw this challenge swirling around Facebook, and I became immediately drawn to the idea: comparing a picture of myself from 2006 to 2016. Of course, scrolling through the photos that are a now a decade (!) old, I thought of the fresh faced 25 year old smiling back at me in those photos.
In 2006, I had embarked on the biggest and even crazies adventures: working on a cruise ship for 2 years. Yes, that’s how I spent my mid-twenties: by sailing around the world. And as corny as it sounds, it was an eye-opening, coming of age time in my life. As I experienced new cultures and saw amazing sights, I learned even more about myself…. and what I am made of.
Before I stepped foot on the cruise ship, I had never left the USA (with the exception of a few family trips to Canada). I had never fallen in love or experienced heart break. I had never felt homesickness or even fear. I never had the chance to fail … to stand up for myself or to really take a risk (or two or a hundred). I had yet to develop my appreciation of sipping a single malt whisky. I hadn’t danced in a piano bar. (Life skills friends, life skills.)
I will say that my 25-year old self-was excited and looked at the world with fresh eyes. Opportunities were around every corner, and limits or restrictions didn’t hold me back. I remember believing the best in those around me, and thinking that anything was wonderfully possible.
I like to think that I have grown and evolved in the past 10 years, but I haven’t changed much. I still look at the world with rose-colored glasses. I still believe the best in those around me. I still wake up every morning excited about what the day may bring. I have the enthusiasm of a 25-year old, with the insight of a 35-year old.
As a sidenote: I’m in the belief that you can grow and evolve by building on your foundation without changing your true core.
But I have evolved. I’ve evolved into an experienced traveler with a passport filled with stamps. I’ve grown into life as an expat, keeps me on my toes and appreciative of the opportunities to experience a new culture daily. I’ve also grown into life as a wife, in a lifelong relationship — and I’ll admit it, it is one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever had with some of the greatest rewards. I evolved in taking less crap, standing up for myself more and having a better understanding of what value I bring to the table. I have evolved to worrying less about what others think about me, and instead to focus on growing rooted relationships with love and respect.
10 years ago, living abroad would have been a dream and now it’s my wonderful everyday. The next decade could lead to even more adventures and new challenges.
Here’s to the lessons from the past ten years, and the adventures the next 10 years may bring. And don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of life lessons to learn.
Tell me, how different is your 2006 self… compared to your 2016 self?