In early 2006 I took my first trip to Africa and landed in Ghana. When I signed up for the trip I actually had no idea where Ghana was but decided it was this or stay home, and so I choose to go. I made a bold decision. I had largely traveled in protective groups, taking postcard ready photos, jamming my daypack with trinkets to take home to show off my latest adventure. This, I quickly realized, would not be that kind of trip.
Ghana is the land of shea nut, a natural resource dubbed liquid gold that thousands of women turn into a body and cooking oil to sell, and where fufu, a sticky ball of pounded cassava, is served with peanut stew. It is the home of the Ashanti Empire. It is holds the history of the former Trans-Atlantic slave trade. It is a place that takes a hold of you and doesn’t let you go.
It is the country where I stopped being a kid and became a traveler. I allowed the experience to open my eyes, to absorb all that was new and different around me. Maybe it was people, maybe it was the mix of dirt and the sand from the Sahara in the air, or maybe it was that I surrendered myself – but I fell in love. I fell in love not only with the country but with what being bold afforded me. I allowed the experience to propel me forward – from changing my major, my first job out of grad school focused on Africa, and even now, living abroad.
Now, ten years later, I find myself practicing the art of boldness more intensely and more intentionally. It is an active part of my daily life as well as my long-term plans.
Here is what being bold has taught me:
1. Travel for the experience, but live for the unexpected. Live within those moments.
2. Take the risks that scary, the ones that prompt other people to question you and go confidently into the world. The rewards are to grand to not take the risks.
3. Be patient. Being bold doesn’t mean being irrational. It means setting an intention and seeing it through, no matter how long it may take.
4. Find a tribe that supports your decisions and inspired you to be better each day.
5. Settle into your decisions and be proud of them.
I have found the beauty and the contentment of living a bold life – despite the hard days and despite the sacrifices. This is the space where I can be curious, intentional, and productive. It is the foundation for living a life with purpose.
This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone. Find her @theartofintentions on Instagram.