Self-discovery is a myth

To the myth of self-discovery

For many pupils and students, the future is still a gray, blurred picture full of ambiguities after graduating from high school or studying. Among them there are of course those who have known since kindergarten that they will be an astronaut or hairdresser and who are sure to have the perfect job after completing their studies. That's great, but the rest of them just stand around a bit puzzled, their Abi or Bachelor degree in hand, no plan for life. So off to a foreign country - to find yourself.

Gaining experience abroad is a good thing. Each year seems to have a different favorite destination, in my time it was (attention, cliché!) Australia. And so I followed the urge to break out into the great wide nothingness. Get away from it all, into an adventure full of magic, your head full of dreams. In times of Instagram and Facebook, it is of course great to post hashtags like #travel and #wanderlust. Friends and family who stayed at home will probably be amazed when they can follow the breathtaking nature and crazy experiences you are constantly communicating. But the touted justification to go in search of yourself at our age, to reinvent yourself, often misses its actually positive origin.

However, all of this must not be lumped together, because some countries actually promise a culture shock. You meet people who open your eyes to new things, experience things that might change your mind, and then come back home like a new person. "I've totally changed, my stay abroad just showed me who I really am." But Australia doesn't offer that in most cases. It is a western-European country, with customs, rules of conduct and culture similar to ours. It may be that there really is a noticeable development of one's self, but in most cases sunbathing and climbing mountains hardly make a new person. I don't want to deny that any event can have an effect on a person, they are always great experiences! However, this is about the myth of self-discovery.

Tanning your plauze, including a new worldview

Most of them spend 6-12 months abroad, then work there in a café, as an au pair or on a farm as a melon picker. I can confirm from my own experience that circumstances can be tough and life unpleasant. And when that hard work is done, and you've probably saved enough money to really travel a little, that's when the fun part begins.

In search of yourself you won't find anything if you leave almost everything to travel providers and agencies, from transportation to accommodation and leisure activities. Didn't you want to learn to be self-employed? Gain experience? Find yourself The difference between traveling and going on vacation is not planning everything safely, indulging in the tourist attractions and returning to the sheltered hotel in the evening. We're actually looking for that particular type of #travel, the air that smells of adventure, maybe just like the slums of a suburb. Surrender to the hustle and bustle of people and let chance determine where it goes. Because in a crowd of hundreds of people who document with their cell phones that they are standing in front of the Opera House in Sydney, you will certainly not encounter yourself in a new light. At most in the thunderstorm of flashlights from tourists.

Who am I and what do I actually want from life?

The time abroad often offers the ideal opportunity to encounter familiar things from a new perspective from a distance. Far away from the influences of family and friends, you may come up with fresh thoughts and see the past and the future from an unknown perspective. It's like holding a mirror up to yourself: who am I? What am I good at and what am I not so good at? Where am I going, what do I want to achieve? Anyway, what do I expect from my life? In general, it is absolutely normal, and in some cases even desirable, to go in search of yourself. Breaking out of the daily grind, experiencing new experiences and discovering unknown places, strangers and own abilities helps in the development of every person. Quasi towards your own ideal self. The exploration tour along your own personality offers all sorts of stumbling blocks, for example things that we regret and others that we are proud of. Dealing with yourself is a great experience, but in most cases that doesn't happen in the backpacker hotspots along the East Coast, in the coolest club in town or at the most famous monument in the region. The point is actually to distance yourself from everything, but above all to take the rest, to let your thoughts and feelings run free.

Back Home ...

When these students, called travelers after their stay abroad, return home and rave about how much they have shaped the other culture, I sometimes wonder if they know what that sounds like. My time in Australia shaped me, of course, I learned a lot, my views have changed, the people I met on my trip stay in my memories - some of them have become friends for life. That's why I don't even want to deny that this time abroad is changing. But the fact is, you will not become completely new people. In the best case scenario, your character will continue to develop and it will reveal what was previously only easy to see. But you are still yourself no matter how long you've been away. Lying on the beach, watching the beautiful bodies surfing, sipping milkshakes and attending the best clubs in town has nothing to do with this famous self-discovery. It's the little things that may cause you to start thinking about previous habits and changing your views. You not only sell this myth to your fellow human beings, but also to yourself. And if you're honest, you know that too.

Lisa Hertwig