Mandy Uncensored: Happy 2nd Anniversary!

It’s been approximately two years since I created a blog under the alias “Wandering Mandy“.

I’ve never considered blogging before and kind of fell into it by accident – we were embarking upon an adventure of a lifetime (with no wifi) so I decided to bring along a traveller’s notebook that my husband had given me years ago. It still smelled of new leather and the pages were still crisp and white. As we journeyed to the summit of Kilimanjaro, I spent my early mornings and late nights jotting notes so that I could remember the details from this experience – the way the air felt, the look of the trees, my bodily responses to high altitude, my daily apprehensions, and so on. I wanted to capture it all without the tainted and bias influence of hindsight. Pure and raw emotions!

Upon returning home, I decided to create a blog so that I could share these stories with my family. I used it as a way of preserving my adventures so not only could I relive them but also in hopes that maybe one day, my children would take an interest in reading them. They could see me as something more than a parent, a provider, a maid, a taxi driver, a teacher, etc. But instead, as a woman who is strong yet vulnerable, adventurous yet careless, and brave yet naive. Someone who takes risks, listens to strangers, laughs, loves, and chases her dreams – despite how absurd they may seem. Someone who truly lives.

Once establishing a blog and receiving tremendous support from my family, I decided to branch out into social media. I hesitated at first. Would I be judged? Would people think it’s foolish? Would I be humble bragging? But then I realized that most people probably won’t even care let alone read it … BUT maybe it will reach someone who will really enjoy reading it. Maybe someone who is not as fortunate to have the same opportunities that I have will be able to share my adventures through my stories. Maybe I can bring them with me to share the breathlessness of high altitude, the excitement of going to a foreign land, and the triumph of reaching a summit!

So two years of hobby blogging later, I have a modest 728 Instagram followers, 134 Facebook followers, and 154 Blog followers. Since then, I have created 22 posts, have learned how to use WordPress, and continue to slowly improve my writing. I still go back and enjoy my older posts to relive the bone-chilling temperatures of Kilimanjaro or the smooth, warmth of the Sahara dessert and it still makes me smile.

All this to say, THANK YOU! Thank you ALL for your interest in my Facebook, Instagram, and Blog! Thank you ALL for taking that time to read my stories, to share your comments, and to support my hobby. I am truly grateful and motivated to continue to share my stories with those who are interested.

Life is such a beautiful adventure! Don’t be afraid to reach out, try something that you’ve always wanted to try, taste a new food, befriend a stranger, and put yourself out there.

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”

Mandy Uncensored: First World Problems

I’m starting a new section of my blog called “Mandy Uncensored”, which will consist of posts not directly related to travel. They will be more thoughts and opinion-based. Will I be brave enough to publish my inner thoughts, allowing them to be publicly judged or criticized? Honestly, I’m not sure … But if I am, I hope you enjoy it and may even draw some inspiration or motivation from it.

Thanks for reading!

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Have you ever came back from an incredible vacation only to find yourself feeling worse than before you left? You feel torn between what was and what is. You battle with the internal tug-of-war of being thrown back into the chaos of routine and responsibilities while your mind refuses to leave vacation. You return to your comfortable lifestyle surrounded by so much and yet, you feel so unfulfilled…

Why?

Upon a recent return from an amazing three weeks in Nepal, I’ve been trying to figure out what this emptiness is that has been debilitating me. Consequently, I even began questioning: who am I? What do I want to do with my life? What kind of person do I want to be? And what is it about travel that makes me feel so damn good and how can I integrate that into my day-to-day routine?

I began to realize that, for me, traveling allows me to be the best version of myself. While traveling, I feel released from my responsibilities, obligations, and chores and, instead, become preoccupied with immersing myself in a new culture and making real human connections. I set aside the trivialness of an idle mind, like questioning if I am good enough and if people like me and so on. During travel, I allow myself to let go because this new surrounding is out of my control. I have nothing to hold on to. I have nothing to prove. I don’t feel judged. And, while traveling, I have so little possessions to become possessed by. I become basic and simple – which is rather quite liberating.

So instead of waiting for my next adventure to let go and feel like I can breathe again, I’ve started questioning how can I learn to embrace my daily routine and stop taking life so seriously. And I’ve concluded that it’s centered around our values and priorities. One of those priorities, being yourself. We need to learn to love ourselves unconditionally for who we are and not what status we carry, how much we own, or who we are friends with. We need to stop measuring wealth by what we can hold, and stop defining love by what we are told so that we can learn to be happy with who we are and what we have. We need to stop assuming that possessions are a measurement of our success – because they are not. These are just things. And we need to stop waiting to be told that we are pretty to feel valued – because these are just words. And instead of counting the likes and seeking external gratifications, we should turn our focus inward. We should work towards freeing ourselves from the shackles of pride and humility and stop trying to sell ourselves in exchange for the approval of others. Focus on loving and accepting who you really are. Because, after all, if we can’t love ourselves – how do we expect others to?

Instead of continuing down this path of self-destruction with distorted values and personal criticism, we should just focus on being the best version of ourselves and accept that this IS enough. Be the person who YOU are happy to wake up to in the morning. Live by the values that YOU feel are acceptable. Be the parent, friend, or family member that YOU would want to be around. Stop buying wealth and chasing likes – instead, try chasing real-life experiences. Try being real. Being kind. Being sincere. Take the time to make real connections. Listen – like, really listen, to others. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. And not only speak with purpose and meaning but live with it. Look for the good in everyone – even if you have to squint to see it. Look for people’s strengths instead of their flaws – because, after all, their strengths do not weaken yours nor does their flaws erase yours.

Let go and just let life happen – because it will happen whether we try to control it or not. Let go of expectations. Let go of people’s approval. Let go of counting how many friends you have on social media. Let go of surrounding yourself with items that you think people will envy. Don’t become obsessed with the past or fixated on the future because now is the only time that really matters. Stop waiting for weekends, for vacations, for friends or for opportunities and start living life now.

Don’t only do what you love but learn to love what you do. Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself! Figure out what person you want to be and be that person. Decide what your personal version of happiness is and once you discover it, live on your own terms.

Be kind to yourself. Embrace your flaws, don’t criticize them. Follow your passion, despite how silly it may seem. And, most importantly, allow yourself to be happy – in doing so, you will be able to make those around you happy too.