What You Can Learn Through Travel

When you feel antsy…Travel.

When you are ready for something new…Travel.

When you need to be reminded how lucky you are…Travel.

When you want to be inspired…Travel.

When you need to open your mind…Travel.

To broaden your horizons, there is almost no better experience out there than the feeling of traveling somewhere you’ve never been.  Seeing ancient history, beautiful vistas, different cultures in person will teach you more than you will ever learn from a book.  And don’t get me wrong—I love to read! But reading about the Eiffel Tower and looking out on Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, well, those are two very different experiences.

Travel takes you to places that are new and exciting and, sometimes, scary.  I’m not just talking about physical places either; I mean those places so deep within you, you didn’t even know they were there. The ones you’re afraid to discover, yet can offer the most rewards.

My first trip on an airplane was to visit my best friend in Maryland.  I was barely in my twenties, and I was so nervous that my mother had to walk me into the airport.  On the flight, every time we hit turbulence I jolted in my seat, certain that the plane was going down.  It was nerve-wracking, but I survived, and that trip became my gateway. I was hooked, and now I try to travel at least twice a year.

My first time visiting a foreign country came about five years later.  I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain when I was in high school, but I had turned it down because I didn’t know anyone else going and, frankly, I was afraid. When the opportunity came around again, however, I didn’t think twice.  I made payments for months to afford my flight.  When the time came, I still didn’t know anyone, but I didn’t care. It’s almost a decade later, but I still have the friendships I made on that trip, and I still harbor dreams of living in Spain.

Traveling allows you to expand your bubble.  Too often we walk around with our heads down, focused on our day-to-day lives.  But when I travel, I put myself in the shoes of the locals. I experience new things, eat different foods, do things I never thought I would do.

One time, in Arizona, I walked over the edge of the Grand Canyon on this glass-floored bridge.  I had to wear stockings on my feet so the specks of dirt from my shoe didn’t damage the glass…yikes! I don’t like to admit this, but I am afraid of heights, so as I was walking I was clinging onto the handrail and refused to venture out to look all the way down (meanwhile there were teenagers laying in the middle of the bridge taking selfies).

As I clung to the handrail, wondering how I let myself talk me into this, an older man reached out and took my hand. “Come out to the middle,” he encouraged me.

“No, I’m fine.” I replied.

Then he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the middle of the bridge.  So there I am, death-grip on this stranger, and we walked arm-in-arm across the bridge. He kept repeating to me, “There is nothing to be afraid of.  See, you’re fine, we are doing it.”

He was right. I’m so thankful he pushed me out of my comfort zone to experience something amazing. I continually try to work on facing my fears, and when I start to doubt myself, I remind myself of that man and his kind words. Be brave and go somewhere new, then bring that knowledge and newfound awareness back to where you live.  Teach others new things. Through being present and doing meditation, learn new things about yourself. Go anywhere and everywhere and keep your eyes open.

People ask me where I would go on my dream vacation and I tell them: Somewhere I’ve never been before! From each adventure, trip, and excursion, I learn something about myself that I can take home with me.  And I’ll let you in on a secret: that’s way better than any souvenir you can buy in the gift shop.

Sabrina Deshner has over 10 years’ experience teaching leadership concepts within higher education and non-profit organizations and has a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She strives to make a positive impact on individuals through teaching them the importance of personal and professional development and in her spare time does health and wellness coaching. She has a passion for learning, creating new things and sharing stories. You can typically find Sabrina reading, writing, dancing or traveling…oh, and watching Netflix. The quote that she lives by is from George Bernard Shaw, “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” Some of her favorite things include: visiting NYC, her nieces and nephews, the color pink, Disney Princesses, and the Golden Girls.

How Six-Year-Old You Can Help You Find a New Career

Think back to when you were six and someone asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you say?  My answers were always things like, “Writer! Actress, singer, dancer!” As I moved through high school, my dream job transformed: I wanted to be a psychologist; my dad wanted me to be a doctor.  By college I’d moved on to marketing and, finally, training and development.

Record scratch. What!? How did I go from actress to leadership training?  Well, for me—and probably for many other people—it was fear and practicality.  I’d convinced myself that only certain people could be actors.  With writing, I told myself that there is no way it could ever turn into a full-time job.  In both cases, I let fear of judgment—what would people say and how they would react?—sway my decisions.  Even now, it takes courage to post my writings for the world to see.

As I got older, “practicality” helped me justify why I could never pursue “lofty” careers.  Other responsible adults will tell you that you simply must have a full-time job, with benefits and a retirement plan.  Make sure you have stability!

Now, I’m definitely not knocking that way of life—I do have a full-time job with benefits and a retirement plan—but what I want to say to those six-year-olds and high-schoolers is: There are many ways to have a career, and there’s no one right mold for everyone.  The people you love may play a huge part in your career choices, and they may not always be “right”.  I think my parents’ fear dictated their message to me.  They wanted me to make lots of money and have stability because they never had that opportunity. I’ve always appreciated their support, but that fear may have influenced me more than I would’ve wanted.

At the end of the day, who’s living your life: you or them?  What’s going to make you happy?

I had a woman contact me a few weeks ago. She’d seen my job title on our company website and wanted to hear my story. First of all: awesome!  I couldn’t believe someone wanted to hear my story.  I’m usually the one making that phone call.  In my job, I oversaw student clubs and organizations, coordinated student activities, taught leadership development, and managed volunteer projects. Yes, it’s a real (and awesome) position!

This woman was struggling with a career move and asked how I ended up in my role. Well, six-year-old me certainly hadn’t said, “Student Activities Coordinator!”  I didn’t even know that job existed until college.  But as I thought more about it, I realized that many parts of this job echoed my past desires. I wanted to act because I love being in front of people, and working events means I have to be creative and entertain.  Writing was great because I love to learn, teach, and express my ideas; leadership training gives me all of that.

So maybe I let doubts get in the way of being on the silver screen, but even now, all isn’t lost. I told her, go back and think about your first dream job. What was attractive about it? Break it down. Turns out, there’s been a little of everything I’ve always wanted in all of my past career experiences.

Reality can derail us. We begin to believe we can’t follow our dreams. But, maybe, in order to believe again all we have to do is honestly answer the question, “What did you want to be when you grow up?”

Sabrina Deshner has over 10 years’ experience teaching leadership concepts within higher education and non-profit organizations and has a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She strives to make a positive impact on individuals through teaching them the importance of personal and professional development and in her spare time does health and wellness coaching. She has a passion for learning, creating new things and sharing stories. You can typically find Sabrina reading, writing, dancing or traveling…oh, and watching Netflix. The quote that she lives by is from George Bernard Shaw, “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” Some of her favorite things include: visiting NYC, her nieces and nephews, the color pink, Disney Princesses, and the Golden Girls.

I Can Wear Heels, Damn It!

It’s Saturday night, and after a long week of work I’m getting ready for a night on the town.  I imagine my routine looks similar to most other women—the hair, makeup, that perfect outfit. And just like I’ve  seen on TV a million times before, there comes that moment when our leading lady slips into their favorite heels to complete their outfit.  I’m thinking, Yes! I’m thirty, I’m flirty; I can wear heels. …And then halfway through the night I have blisters on my ankles, my toes are squished, and I’m begging my strongest friend to carry me so I don’t have to walk anymore.

The honest truth is: I have never been able to wear heels.  But to me, they aren’t just high heels; they are symbolic of the woman I could be: confident, assertive, adored, witty, sexy. All those things women typically desire—but I thought, without the heels, no one will notice me. They GIVE me the power. So I convinced myself that in order to be the woman I wanted to be, I would have to wear the heels, feet be damned.

But it’s not until I’ve walked what felt like miles and then the heel breaks and I’m floundering around, trying not to trip over my own feet that I suddenly realize I don’t feel confident, assertive, or sexy anymore.  As I limped down the road to find a new, comfier pair of shoes (probably some flip flops that cost a hell of a lot less than those broken heels), I began to question the magic of those heels. How can I rely on something so easily broken to give me confidence? Is suffering through the painful reality of wearing heels to give me this intangible boost to my ego really worth it? I sat down and thought about it and realized:

I am already confident: I have colleagues and friends who regularly ask for my opinion because I have hard-earned knowledge, skills, and abilities that they admire.

I am already assertive: I always try to ask thought-provoking questions when I’m in meetings, and if I’m in a situation where I feel it’s important to express my view or feelings, I do so without hesitation.

I am already adored: I have a wide variety of friends, mentors, co-workers, teammates, and family members who appreciate me, support me, and love me for who I am (with or without the heels!).

I am already witty: I have a sense of humor and try to see the positive in most situations, and I know I can make people laugh.

I am already sexy: You better believe I can rock a good pair of flats any day!

I know, for me, I am usually my own worst critic.  Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly critical, I’ll seek out someone I trust and have an open conversation with them about my strengths and weaknesses. All too often I’ll realize I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. Here’s my advice: Start to adore yourself as others do, and remember that with self-reflection and some hard work, you can be whomever you want to be…wearing any kind of shoes!

So maybe I’ll never be able to really wear heels, but that’s okay, because I don’t need the “magic heels”. I can be whoever I want to be.

Sabrina Deshner has over 10 years’ experience teaching leadership concepts within higher education and non-profit organizations and has a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She strives to make a positive impact on individuals through teaching them the importance of personal and professional development and in her spare time does health and wellness coaching. She has a passion for learning, creating new things and sharing stories. You can typically find Sabrina reading, writing, dancing or traveling…oh, and watching Netflix. The quote that she lives by is from George Bernard Shaw, “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” Some of her favorite things include: visiting NYC, her nieces and nephews, the color pink, Disney Princesses, and the Golden Girls.

The Next Big Thing

Every year around my birthday, I like to examine where I am in life. As a 30 something single woman, this is definitely not what younger me pictured. I always knew I would work, maybe have some kind of a career, but that was never the focus of my dreams. My goal was getting married and having children. As a matter of fact, I had a whole plan to be married by 25 and having my first child by the time I turned 30…well, that didn’t happen.

I stumbled through some troubled romantic relationships in my early twenties, and after I hit 25 and marriage still hadn’t happened, I started focusing more on my career. But even with that new focus, I was still honing in on what I wanted to do and where my passion lay. And since life had gotten in the way of where I was supposed to go, I got into the habit of always looking for the “next big thing”. The next job opportunity, relationship, relocation, hobby, and so on. Always looking for a way to improve my life and check items off of an imaginary to-do list.

Don’t get me wrong, I was appreciative for the things I had in life, but it was my life as a whole I had a hard time accepting; I always thought I would be somewhere else, doing something else. Maybe you think that yearning isn’t such a bad thing—that it keeps you growing—but if you’re always looking at what’s next, you’re never focusing on the here and now, appreciating those moments.

The realization dawned on me the day I attended my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I looked around at my family and finally understood we are all on this journey. None of us knew where we would be today. Listening to my grandparents sharing stories from their past, I discovered that no one understands the impact certain choices make on our future selves; the only thing you can do is make the best decision for you today.

It’s those choices that guide you to who you are going to become. Your past shapes you and doesn’t always land you where you thought you would be but sometimes it can lead you somewhere better.

So that was when it hit me: I had been striving for a life that wasn’t mine. This is my life now: I don’t have kids, but my friends have kids I’ve watched grow up and love like my own. I may not be married, but I have a family that supports the choices I make and friends I can count on to be by my side without question. I am a professional woman with a career that allows me to be creative and work with people. I have the freedom to travel and try new things. This is my life.

I made the conscious decision that it was time to become content. Unpack some of the things I still had in storage “in case I moved again”, stop job hunting, absorb what I have in the present. Of course I could still set goals and work on improving myself, but I would also take the time to be grateful for what I currently have and who I have become.

It was time for me to accept not where I am in life, but where life had taken me. To stop being so concerned for the “next big thing” and simply be present.

Sabrina Deshner has over 10 years’ experience teaching leadership concepts within higher education and non-profit organizations and has a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She strives to make a positive impact on individuals through teaching them the importance of personal and professional development and in her spare time does health and wellness coaching. She has a passion for learning, creating new things and sharing stories. You can typically find Sabrina reading, writing, dancing or traveling…oh, and watching Netflix. The quote that she lives by is from George Bernard Shaw, “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” Some of her favorite things include: visiting NYC, her nieces and nephews, the color pink, Disney Princesses, and the Golden Girls.