Five Lessons Learned As An Introvert Living On A Train

Large View of Living On A TrainThere is something to be said about a person who takes a cool idea and brings it to life.

Like a rocketship to outer space or a computer network that links the world.  Or maybe a leadership training that takes place on a train as it goes across the United States.

The Train Will Leave With Or Without You

I took one look at the email about the Millennial Trains Project and thought, “There is no way that I can do this.”  It was totally different from my other travel experiences and I felt intimidated by the other participants.

So I moved on to the next email.

A week later, as I cleaned my inbox, I opened the email again.  Why was I telling myself no to this opportunity?  Because it was different?  Because it flirted with my comfort zone?

Those were the exact reasons that I needed the experience.  So I submitted an application.

My excitement grew as the trip neared.  I expected to have an amazing experience crossing the country and sharing my love for exploration and nature with others along the way.  What I gained was much more than I bargained for.

On the final day of the trip, we sat in the dining room of the Hudson Hotel for our final meeting.

As I reflected on takeaways and next steps, my transformation became clear.

Tweet: Travel has a way of showing us that no matter how much we know of ourselves, we still know very little. ~ via @AweInclusive“Travel has a way of showing us that no matter how much we know of ourselves, we still know very little.”

And all it took was a bit of bravery to take the first step and tell myself, “Go for it.”

I Heard My Comfort Zone Ripping To Shreds

Getting chummy is easy when you’re together for ten days – unless you’re an introvert.  And the lessons I’ve learned as an introvert living on a train with two dozen people have proven useful over and over again.

This Isn’t Elementary School

No one has to be your friend.

If you want friends, you have to put yourself in other people’s bubbles, which means opening up your bubble.  As an introvert, I work better communicating one on one.  When I try to “work the crowd”, I end up being inauthentic. 

And everyone senses when you’re being a fake.

The outgoing people are much better at quickly creating relationships.  I’ve accepted that I am not that person.

I took my time getting to know others, and finding chances to break away from the crowd and chat one on one.  I worked diligently to build friendship foundations that I can keep building upon after the trip.

The More You Listen, The More You Learn

The skill of listening should be taught in school because many of us aren’t great at it.  And it’s a shame since listening is one of the best ways to learn about others.

When you’re traveling in a group with dozens of people, listening provides useful tips about the people you are around.

And for some reason, the less you talk, the more others want to know about you – which helped to break the conversational ice on occasion.

During our nightly discussions, I inhaled the brainpower of this group, marveling at how their minds worked and hoping that intelligence was contagious.

Become a quieter part of the conversation and you will find that knowledge is abundant.

Let Your Hair Down

Or put it up.  You can be whoever you want to be when you travel.

Make your first impressions amazing by unleashing the best you.

At the fish market in Seattle, I watched as my train mate caught a fish that had been launched at her by a vendor.

As the crowd cheered, I realized that it’s those types of memories that create a trip -those wacky memories that many of us are too busy to create when we’re not traveling.

Even If You Embarrass Yourself

The people you meet while traveling don’t automatically become a part of your life, so you can leave those embarrassments behind as a bad memory.

Or you can laugh at yourself and create a good memory.

I rode a bike for the first time in a decade while we were in Milwaukee, and it didn’t go without a mishap or two.  But, I couldn’t let a shaky bike ride define how I felt about myself.

A huge dose of self-esteem is all it really takes to get over a situation where you may not have appeared to be the brightest crayon in the box.

And who cares if you’re not?  Our crayon boxes are stuffed with different colors because variety makes life beautiful.

You Are More Awesome Than You Realize

I feel like this after every trip.

And at the end of the year, when I look back on everywhere I’ve been and everything I’ve done, I am in awe of how awesome life is.

My favorite day was spent at Glacier National Park in Whitefish, Montana.

Nature has a way of bringing out the best in people, and we experienced some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  It has had a lasting effect on me and my outlook on life.

Is it me or does it seem like the more you travel, the less life seems like a challenge?  I’ve gained more confidence, better conversations and a more positive outlook as I’ve increased the number of miles I’ve traveled.

Life is a limitless canvas, and travel is the paintbrush.  Keep creating your dream travel and inspiring others to do the same!

How has travel changed how you view life?  And how you view yourself?

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The Millennial Trains Project is an unconventional leadership training for Entrepreneurs and Innvoators.  The ten day train ride takes participants across the country in chartered, 1950s Pullman Cars to advance personal and professional projects in various cities visited along the way.  My project focused on getting youth Outdoors.  Find out more and submit your application here.
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Photo © Millennial Trains Project