Reflections on Life, Travel and Turning 29.

I know that title is making you think I’m only a year away from the big bad thirty.

I’m thinking that too.

In my mind though, I still feel like that 23-year-old girl at the edge of something. Equally confused about what I want to do with my life. Equally restless. A drifter.

You’d think that my life of travel has revealed some deep answers. That I have the mysteries of happiness or existence somewhat figured out. That my head is not a giant mess of what ifs and what will bes. Truth be told, this life of travel is really a path of questions.

But this is not that post.

Even though I unnoticeably flipped my life calendar to 29 a few weeks ago, the little voices within me wouldn’t go unnoticed. This is what they had to say:

On the ‘wow’ feeling

zanzibar beaches, zanzibar blogs
That ‘wow’ feeling in Zanzibar.

People often ask me if after all these years of traveling, I find myself less amazed by the wonders of the world. Of course, wandering amid the German Alps in winter, or the white sand beaches of Zanzibar, or the endless tea plantations of Himachal could wow anyone. But my heart still skips a beat for the simple things: a solitary sunset, the earthy aroma of a pine forest, the warmth of an unlikely friendship. Till that ‘wow’ feeling doesn’t fade away, I feel like I’ll continue my traveling ways.

Also read: The Joy of Slow Travel

On commitment

munduk moding bali
Committing to seeking indulgent responsible travel experiences; Munduk Moding Plantation, Bali.

My first reaction is to flee at the idea of committing to something – a long term project, a place I’ve come to love, an image of the future – for fear that it might bind me down and clip my wings, or that I might get bored and restless and ridden with guilt for not seeing it through. But when I look back, I realize I’ve unknowingly stuck around with things that matter to me. Blogging, veganism, a relationship. So in the last of my twenties, I feel like I’m on my way to get rid of this commitment phobia, focus on meaningful long-term work… and (hopefully) see it through.

Also read: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

On solitude

Palampur, lodge at wah, dhauladhar range
Solitude in the tea plantations near the Lodge at Wah, Palampur.

You must think I’m crazy to have been laying out alone under a starry sky on a farm in Maharashtra, as the world celebrated the beginning of 2017. Or outright weird for having turned 29 surrounded by the snowclad Dhauladhar range in Himachal, without a word to my hosts. I guess that inexplicable desire to revel in one’s own company doesn’t feature on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but the ones who feel it too, know that it is real. For the ones who don’t, I’m okay with being the crazy, strange one.

Also read: Unexpected Ways Long Term Travel Has Changed Me

On acceptance

Guatemala sunrise, lake atitlan sunrise
Focussing on things that matter, like the wonders of a sunrise in Guatemala!

When I reconnected with my college housemate after a long time, she from the ‘thirties club’ and me from the ‘almost thirty club’, realized we’re both living the same mantra these days: Accept and move on. Our paths might be different, but this feeling that we don’t have to conform to the ways of the world around us, is the same. I’ve spent many sleepless nights contemplating my rebellious, socially inept, escapist ways, and wondering why my folks more people aren’t wired that way. But I have to accept that just like my wiring is not anyone else’s business, no one’s wiring is mine. Accept and move on.

Also read: 10 Life Lessons From 2 Years of Travelling

On gratitude

German alps, berchtesgaden national park
Grateful for moments like these: Berchtesgaden, Germany.

An intense feeling of gratitude washed over  me as I lay inebriated during an Ayahuasca ceremony, deep in the Amazonian forests of Ecuador – and became a recurrent theme in the months that followed. These days, I often look back at my journey so far in amazement, and marvel at how the universe conspired, in the best and worst of times, to help me shape the life I aspired to.

And so even if my existential dilemmas often leave me drowning, I’ve learnt to swim to the surface with gratitude. I am incredibly lucky for the cards I’ve been dealt, and more importantly, the hand I’ve been able to play. I feel more grateful now than ever, for my rebellious side, the philosophies I’ve come to believe in, the horizons I’ve woken up to, and the people I’ve shared them with.

Any pearls of wisdom for this 29-year-old?

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  1. Nandan Jha says:

    Happy Bday girl. No pearls of wisdom, too young for that.

    1. Age is just a number on the scale. For the young at heart, every day is a new day.

      Happy birthday! 🙂

      And finish all the countries in the world! 😀

  2. When we accept and embrace ourselves, the very own version of our soul, the journey of life becomes a ‘wow’, full of gratitude, full of commitment (completion). But to reach that point of acceptance, we need to travel many ways, both outside and inside contemplating at various stages and following that mean us the most.

    A very beautiful post with the most marvelous snaps.

    I have a dream of going to Palampur sometime. What is that something that I must surely do/visit there?

    Regards, Nehal

    सा विद्या या विमुक्तये

    1. Hello Nehal
      nice reply to an equally nice post
      just asking are you from Banasthali
      we used to have this prayer there
      Sa Vidya ya vimuktaye

  3. Beauty Elixir says:

    Nice write up 🙂

  4. Keep doing what you are doing! Adventure, wonder, solitude, awe and gratitude will take you far–and give you another terrific 30 years. Happy Birthday!

  5. Happy Birthday 🙂
    Loved to read your post. Best wishes.

  6. I can not tell you how much I enjoy reading your stories. The pictures capture the essence of what life is all about. I admire your courage and your zeal for adventure! BRAVO to you Shivya!!! 🍀

  7. Sarmistha says:

    Dear Shivya,
    There are people wired in rebellious, socially inept, and escapist ways. I believe, you are an inspiration for many of them.
    Atleast to one girl who tossed her ace to live with visual arts at 23. One confused, commitmentpheobic seeking solitude over everything else. Who has never felt so connected to anything before she found this.
    We never met, but I guess I know you.
    Happy birthday, drifter. May you leave footprints all over the world. 🙂

  8. Go.In.Green says:

    All I want to say is I love you and your blog!! U are the best. Hope to meet you someday 🙂 This post just made me emotional, it’s so beautifully written. When I opened the blog I was in a different mode and now I am in a different mode altogether. That’s the power of words. Also Happy Birthday 🙂

  9. Dear Shiya,

    I love reading your blog and hope someday to meet you in person. We all wish we could do what our heart wishes but it takes lot of courage to make it happen in real. I am really happy that you made it and will continue doing the same. I always talk about your blogs with my friends.

  10. Hey Shivya,
    I am exactly your alter ego.
    Unknowingly,you have become my idol.
    Someday,maybe,just maybe someday,i wish I was like you.
    Just keep wandering unceaseably Shivya and keep inspiring.
    Good bless.

  11. Happy birthday girl ! you have always been an inspiration .I guess our choices paves our path and along the journey we find peace in ourselves if we listen to our heart.
    So enjoy and keep inspiring us always 🙂

  12. Mamta Naidu says:

    Here’s to many more adventures and years filled with gratitude!

  13. Nice post!

    >> Truth be told, this life of travel is really a path of questions.

    >> But this is not that post.

    Is there a post for that? 🙂

    Thanks for writing these lines. I think most of the things we chase in life teach us the same lesson. Especially the things that are more abstract and have different meanings for different people, or may not solve a specific problem. Travel is definitely one such thing!

  14. LOved reading this….very thoughtful and mature reflections. At the end of the day if you are happy and at peace with your decisions then I guess thats the right way… And you can say with Frank Sinatra…. “I did it my way” 😀. A little whisper from a mom of adult kids… Be kind to those not hardwired as you.😀

  15. Lovely post. Age is just a number, this is one of the biggest lessons travel has taught me. I am sure, you would agree. Here’s to many more wows, solitude filled sunrises and sunsets.

  16. pratikshya2 says:

    Lived your words… Loved them… Your experiences were something I could only imagine and I do long to experience the same too… Starry sky.. sunrise and solo travel.. everything I read felt liberating… And I am 23 now.. and I think I ll always have to live this way.. doubting and with a lot of ifs and buts.. hope I do do something though… Clear the mess in my head a little…
    Reading this was awesome…

  17. Age is just a number. Only thing I bother about our ways of craziness(you know what) can be retained when we go beyond 45? Don’t know, the idea of a spirited but incapability to live a life so colorful is possible? Parents, family, even self…they owe many things. Be it…40s is still a lot far away. Belated Happy B’Day.

  18. Belated Happy Birthday, Shreya. You are truly inspirational. Living life on your terms and chasing your dreams, that’s what we all aspire to do. Live a life that you need a vacation from.

    Cheers to you !!

  19. Loved your post! This is from a 35 yo to a 29 yo – stay who you are and follow your heart. Only listening is not enough. Use those voices in your head to take actions. Nobody said commitment is necessary to grow in life. Do what you want and how you want.
    Good luck, Shivya! Make you go from strength to strength.

  20. This is awesome and I absolutely love your writing style! I look forward to following you from now on. Enjoy your 29th year as everything becomes more difficult after 30 I’ve found! Matt

  21. I love this post! I could relate to you so much. It´s so funny how long term travellers all feel the same deep down no matter how different we are. I´m turning 30 in a few months and this has been hard for me. The best advice I can give you is to stay present, don´t dwell on the past or worry too much about the future. Happy birthday and I can´t wait to read more from you.

  22. Amazing post! Great ideas! Fascinating photos!
    I feel like doing the same thing – getting all free from one place and seeing many – yet it’s a bit scary. At the same time, in a few years, if I don’t do anything, pretty sure I’ll regret it.
    Very inspirational! Thanks!

  23. All I can say is, Happy Bday Shivya!! Here’s to many ore years of traveling to you, and getting inspired through your blogs for me 🙂

  24. Happy Birthday Shivya!!

  25. Prathibha says:

    Just amazing!! Loved the post 🙂

  26. I love the pictures you take, they’re really pretty! Happy birthday!!!

  27. Nikunj J.Sanghani says:

    Happy growing Shivya, You are a traveler who travels through thoughts. Keep your journey on.

  28. Well crafted. Thanks for those precious pearls of wisdom..

  29. Shubrank Mukhiya says:

    Fcuk, that last para was something. *slow claps*

  30. Sadiya Yasmin says:

    You are a true inspiration for many people like me; the rebellious, socially inept and escapists. You are an inspiration for all the drifters who do not want to be held back by one thing.
    You are an inspiration for a 21 y/o dreamer like who wants to explore but the people around are not supportive with the idea.
    You are an inspiration for those who think that life won’t turn out as they want.
    I am grateful to you to put up this blog post, for letting us know your life at 29, for giving us a glimpse of your journey.
    It brought me that hope which shakes sometimes.
    Thank you 🙂
    And happy birthday the rebellious soul. Stay blessed. 🙂

  31. I like your article a lot and these beautiful places, thanks a lot for sharing this.

  32. Keep on enjoying life! Live it the way you want to & don’t let anybody get you down, ever! Happy birthday!

  33. Indranil Rathod says:

    Truly instead by ur happiness and glad about thought and like to meet you once .

  34. Babulal Beniwal says:

    मै आपके जज्बे , हिम्मत, साहस को सलाम करता हू। जयहिन्द

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