What does finding yourself really mean?

There are many reasons why people travel, each with their own idealistic scenarios in mind of what to expect and what they want out of their experience.

Some go to escape their lives and take a break from reality. For me, in this instance, it was to go on my first solo extravaganza and have some adventure. 

Before this first solo venture, I used to find it awfully cringeworthy when someone said ‘I’m going to find myself’. What does that even mean?! I can feel the ground underneath my own two feet. I have a place on this planet, just like you, and that someone. We’re right here for the living! 

Reflecting on this now, 8 years after my first Topdeck, that phrase actually couldn’t be more true. I found myself. And much more than that, I found the groundwork upon which I would continue to build myself.

Always wanting to grow, to learn, to experience, to be brave, to have fun.

To enjoy the little things in life.

To appreciate the people around me.

To be grateful for the body I live in. 

When life didn’t go the way I’d planned

One thing I couldn’t have accounted for, was what my body had in store for me. I was about to go on one hell of a personal journey that hit my life in a momentous way.

I remember the night before my Topdeck trip like it was yesterday. Staying at the hostel in London, that we would depart from the next morning, having been recently diagnosed with a chronic condition that I didn’t even fully understand yet, thinking ‘great timing, body, just perfect.’

I plucked up the courage to explain to one of my concerned fellow roommates in the hostel about my condition and the medication I was taking. She actually knew someone who had gone through the same and she suggested to me which medication I should stop for a day, as it might be making me worse.

Turns out she was right. I could not have been more thankful for that, or the first day on my Topdeck trip could have looked a lot different. Seems it’s easier to talk to a stranger about your problems. I never thought I’d learn a lesson when I hadn’t even left the country yet.

Try not to be afraid to talk about yourself, as it may benefit you more than you thought otherwise. 

One of the most testing experiences of the trip was having what I describe as ‘an attack’ from said chronic condition, at one of the worst possible moments of the trip – at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Luckily it was short lived, but it caused me to miss the timing of my next group excursion, and I’d have to take the activity with a big group of strangers. Already being emotional from having an attack, cue me having a meltdown in front of a lot of people.

However, they couldn’t have been more welcoming, and I just added even more friends to the big group of Topdeckers I had just met.

How travel helped me understand myself

As most of you are experiencing visiting these cities and countries for the first time, you have that shared bond of wonder and curiosity of experiences that will never leave you.

But I also found out a lot about myself, whilst wandering off on my lonesome. I found out that I enjoy my own company and love to explore as much on my own as I do with other people.

What I love about Topdeck, is that I could wander off by myself, and then return to the comfort of my new huge friendship group. One big lesson I learnt, that I hope everyone takes from their time on a Topdeck trip, is that it is perfectly okay to be yourself. You are unique, embrace all of your personality, it will help you and guide you.

I never truly understood what ‘finding myself’ meant, until I experienced what that actually meant. I give my thanks to Topdeck for laying the foundation for me to continue to do so.

Johanna Myers
A constantly travelling, thrill-seeking, sport-watching, rock music-listening, wine-tasting, food-craving, colourful-dressing, constant-smiling, non-stop-talking, Mancunian designer from England.