A few months ago, a friend set me up on a date with a guy she knew and it actually went pretty well. We saw a movie and got dinner at a cute restaurant by the water. It was pouring outside, but we walked along the shops, laughing as the rain soaked through our clothes. He told me about the wedding he was going to in Greece a few weeks later and I joked that he should’ve invited me. He kissed me goodnight, and that was that.
Two weeks later, he asked if I was serious about joining him in Greece. Once he asked, I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind. Eventually, I ran out of reasons not to go and I said yes. Taking a chance turned out to be worth it; I had an incredible time and I loved every second of my trip.
- I honed my decision-making skills. I’ve always been bad at making decisions. Ask me my favorite ice cream flavor or what I want to do for dinner and you’ll see for yourself, but this opportunity didn’t give me time to question myself. With flight prices rising each day and the trip right around the corner, I had to make a quick choice. He gave me seven days’ notice. Four days before the trip, I booked my flight.
- I got to see a new place. I’ve been to Greece before, but never like this. The last time was a part of a cruise and it only allowed me to spend a day in Santorini and Mykonos. Try as you might, you can’t get much out of a day of travel. The days that I spent in Chios were like no other. I explored the island and I lived like the locals – it was incredible.
- I met new people. Not only did I get close to the people I traveled with, but I also met Greek natives living in Chios. I learned about the lives of my travel partners, their family, and their friends. They introduced me to local chefs, taxi drivers, and wine makers (“vinters”). Each one of them taught me something new about their little slice of the world. Bill Nye once said, “Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t.” I took everything they taught me about the world by storm and I’ve held it close ever since.
- I lived out my Mamma Mia Fantasy. I traveled to Greece, I sang, I danced. It was just like the movie… except I didn’t meet three men claiming to be my father. But hey, close enough. Mamma Mia is a film about finding joy and contentment where you are. I did that in Greece and I continued to do that at home.
- I immersed myself in a new culture. When you go to any place with natives, you get a special experience. The group I traveled with had been to Chios many times before. They had family and friends there, and they were well equipped to show me around. We traveled to tiny villages deep in the mountains and I saw parts of the island that very few visitors have seen before. I tried the wine made by locals, I learned a dance unique to Chios, and I got to go on private tours led by our taxi driver (who did not speak English, but still insisted on showing us around).
- I took a chance and survived. I’m risk-averse by nature. It shows in the way I invest my money, the importance I place on helmets and elbow pads when I rollerblade, and how I avoid going further than three yards into the ocean. This risk was out of character for me, and it built my confidence. I know that I can trust my instincts now, and I feel more comfortable taking chances like this in the future.
- I became more independent. This was my first time traveling halfway around the world by myself, and it was terrifying. To add to that, I didn’t even know the people that I was meeting there. Through this trip, I cultivated a new kind of independence that has given me the confidence to make bold moves in the future, whether that be traveling to a new place or spending time alone.
- I said “yes”. Every year since I’ve turned 21, I’ve had one new year’s resolution: Say yes. It has been a motto I live by and it’s got me into some serendipitous situations. In Greece, I said yes to trying Octopus, smoking hookah, and swimming in an unfamiliar body of water. I took every opportunity and ran with it. By saying “yes,” I gained confidence.
Going to Greece was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m not suggesting that everyone fly across the world with someone they barely know, but I think there’s a lesson to be learned here. Take chances more often. Who knows where it might lead you.