5 reasons why I travel

1:To feel anonymous

There’s something incredibly freeing about being in a place where you know absolutely no one, especially when you first move to a new city. The streets are yours and you can be whoever you want to be. That’s cheesy as fuck, but it’s completely true. Your mistakes are behind you, your insecurities can be dead if you want them to be, and you have a world of opportunities for growth, change and movement at your toes. 

2: To hike  

Hills and mountains and forests and water understand me better than I understand myself. Okay, okay, I know I’m being dramatic. But really, hiking is the one activity that always gives me the space to do the deep thinking I need to heal old wounds and rediscover myself. As a kid, walking into the woods playing pretend with my family and friends always brought me so much joy. So, it makes sense that I feel most full when I do so as an adult. I smile with my whole body when I’m hiking – happiness radiates from my eyeballs to my ankles, and that’s pretty special. 

3: To challenge my expectations

I can’t tell you how many times my expectations of places have been absolutely shattered after visiting. Krakow, Poland, blew my mind. People are incredibly kind, it’s lively, and it’s surrounded by nature that’s easily accessible. London, England, beat my patience out of me all three times I visited, though I expected to fall head over heels for its hustle and bustle. While everyone told me that I’d love Berlin, Dresden was the German city that really captivated me. And then of course there’s L.A., a place I was told was full of dirt, grime, and all manner of atrociousness. In the end, it stole my heart. Travelling has taught me to enter into new experiences with a clear mind and to erase all preconceived notions of what things might be and should be. 

4: To meet new people

The lessons I’ve learned from travelling over the last few years have almost all come from the people I’ve met. During this whole quarantine situation, I’m valuing the many people I’ve met during my travels more than ever. Different cultures have different opinions and mindsets than your own, and until you meet someone who comes from somewhere else, you’re ignorant to so much. If you know me, you know how damned chatty I am. It does a girl good while she’s on the move. From entrepreneurs to hitchhikers to musicians to artists, I’ve spoken to so many people of so many ages from so many places, and it’s really impacted how I interact with the world around me and formed my opinions on so many things.

5: To meet more of myself

Tori Dudys: she’s probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. She’s empathetic, compassionate, smart, ambitious, vocal, opinionated, fierce, a bit lazy at times, creative, inventive, strong, scared a lot, often confused, rough around the edges, and forever fascinated by new things. 

It’s okay to love yourself and accept your flaws, and the best way to discover what these are is to move forward – and sometimes backward if you must. I think maintaining a state of growth is all we can do to soak up as much as we can from this world. Before I started travelling, I was lost. I had no sense of who I was or what I wanted from life. I was depressed and constantly felt stuck. I was lucky enough to have the support I needed to push myself forward into new worlds, and I’m incredibly grateful for these opportunities. They’ve brought me back to myself, and ultimately saved my life.

Now, when I travel, I always meet new sides of myself. Whether it’s discovering a new passion or realizing I’m more resourceful than I give myself credit for, I’m always surprised to find new facets of my personality and soul. 

When I’ll get to travel again is uncertain but reflecting on past trips makes it easier to visualize things to come. I WILL finish those hikes I’ve planned. I WILL encounter new people. I WILL find more of myself. But until then, maybe there’s something in learning to stand still for a while. Being in one place for a long time makes me uncomfortable, and I’ve always found our most significant growth comes from a place of complete discomfort.  

Learning to really see – what is social distancing?

I drew today, for the first time in a long time. A very long time, actually. Probably my first time since Scotland. I drew my hand. I like drawing hands. They get things done. I’d argue, as a writer, they’re probably two of my most valuable and beloved assets. But that’s not what this post is about.

It’s actually about one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned – in a drawing class of all places. 

Cut to 2014, Ottawa, Canada, and an eager 23-year old Dudys sitting in her new drawing class, excited to make friends and learn how to create pretty pictures. Day one, the art teacher asked her students if they were artists in any way outside of class. Everyone was quick to share with pride: “I sculpt.” “I’m a graphic designer.” “I use deli meats to craft footwear.” Etc, etc. 

When it came ‘round to me, I gave a shrug and said calmly: “no, I’m not much of an artist at all.” 

“What is it you do for a living?” asked my teacher.

“I’m a writer.”

“Of course, you’re an artist.” She said, expecting me to light up.

That was the first time I had an existential crisis about my career path. Oh, they think I’m a REAL writer. Like J.K. Rowling or some shit. Writing headlines for emails no one reads isn’t REAL writing. Scribbling thoughts into a journal isn’t REAL writing.Blah, blah, blah. I’m positive every copywriter has had this moment at parties when people ask them what they do. But it was a fresh feeling for me at the time.

Later that night, teacher posed another question: “Why are you taking this class?” 

Again, everyone shared their answers. Most were similar to mine: “I want to be able to have an idea in my mind and communicate it perfectly in a drawing.” 

To which teacher replied: “Young padawan, learn to see first you must.”

Well, she said something along those lines but in a much less Yoda way. 

What we see in front of us is not usually how we envision it to be in our minds, even while we’re looking right at it. I make assumptions about my fingers while I’m sketching. My nail is this long or my knuckle protrudes here, when in actuality my nail is shorter or my knuckle  protrudes 3 mm lower than I think. It’s easy to draw well if you see what’s actually there. But most of us don’t see things as they are.

In life, we do the same. We hear people’s words differently than they intend them based on our past experiences. We see people doing one thing but perceive them doing another. We make assumptions about the whys of the world without fully knowing. We fill in our own blanks, instead of taking the time to see people and situations for who and what they really are. 

I get it. We HAVE to do this in a lot of ways. We’ll never have the whole story. We’ll never know what is really happening, why it’s happening and our part in it. I think the key is leaving our assumptions out of it and learning to just let things be in their own state. 

Quarantine is exposing a lot of truths to me, mainly about myself but also just about living. What is social distancing for me? What is it when I look at it clearly? It’s a measure put in place to keep people safe. It’s a change for me and the way I live. It’s a change for my family and friends and the way they live. And I can choose to look at it as such. Or I can fill in blanks:

What is social distancing? It’s terrible. It’s no hugs. It’s no arm pats or drinks with friends or crying in each other’s arms or dancing with strangers or shaking hands or park hangs in the sunshine with a big group of people. It’s loved ones dying before their time, and families facing disastrous outcomes. It wears on me all the time and heightens my anxiety. I’m sallow and my skin is dry and I’m incredibly sad that I might have to postpone my hike in September. 

OR, what is social distancing? It’s awesome. I’ve connected with old friends I haven’t spoken to in ages. I’ve connected more with myself than I have since moving back to Toronto. It’s provided a level of collective consciousness we’ve been lacking in the world for far too long. It’s proven that we can fix this planet we’re destroying if we all really make the effort to. It’s helped me to save money, be more fit and feel healthier than I ever have in my whole life.

OR, maybe social distancing is what it is, and the key to making it through this, and everything to come, is staying balanced. Remembering to see the true figure and lines of a situation, and accepting that there will always be blanks to fill in. When you fill in those blanks, try your best to fill them in objectively, and SEE ALL SIDES to the situation. Really SEE that situation. 

So, I’m a copywriter. It’s not the same as being a famous novelist, or a politically-charged journalist, or an award-winning poet. But it’s also great that I’ve gotten to help small businesses brand themselves, hone my writing skills with incredible talent around me, and work at a job I’m damned lucky to have. I write every day and grow every minute. And yeah, writing is a form of art.

What’s really there, then? An artist. And two hands that are excited to punch out hours and hours of feelings and send them off into the great abyss that is cyberspace. 

A traveller’s thoughts on trust

I think what I’m learning about trust is, more importantly than allowing someone to earn your trust, you should always trust your gut. Every single time my insides have told me something, they’ve been 100% right.

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What a damned ridiculous year – thank god for it

Write down what’s been hard for you the last little while. Yeah, it fucking sucks, and some of these hardships will sting you for a damned long time, maybe even forever. But never forget, that list of the great shit you’ll write, the one with the beautiful moments and powerful learnings, no matter how big or small it is, should forever be your reason for pushing forward.

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Alone in the airport

Day 1: Edinburgh – Krakow

I’m sitting at Gate 23 in Edinburgh Airport. It smells like French fries and ketchup and around me I can hear the buzzing of foreign languages (Polish for one) and the howling of the bathroom hand dryer. My flight to Krakow has been delayed by an hour. Classic. I’ve not experienced one single trip in the past two years that didn’t contain at least one delay or missed connection.

That’s alright though. Generally speaking it’s these delays that have forced my usual impatient and neurotic self to become a relatively zen and chilled out chick. It’s also often these wee bumps in the travel road that force my hand in some kind of creative or productive way, be that writing, drawing, or reading—I always make the most of my time in airports and bus stations.

This is it, I keep telling myself. I’m considering this adventure one more challenge on the long, never-ending road of Dudys self-discovery. I’ve lived on a different continent than home for two years now and still have yet to do any extensive solo travel. So this is it, my time to nut up or shut up.

Two years ago, three weeks of backpacking would have been a pipe dream, or really a pipe nightmare. The idea of going anywhere outside of my local spots on my own was not just unsettling, but out of the picture entirely. I think I’ve always pretended to be some tough, independent, bad ass bitch on the outside, but on the inside I couldn’t sit for longer than an hour on my own without feeling pathetic, lonely, and incredibly depressed.

I thought when I moved into a one bedroom apartment that I was proving I was independent and could take care of myself. Although looking back now I always had people over: a best friend, a boyfriend, an acquaintance, or anyone else who could keep me from noticing how disgustingly and pathetically lonely I constantly felt. I was in no way happy with what I was doing, where I was, and ultimately who I was. If I hated who I was so bad, how could I ever like being alone with not but me as company?

Not anymore. My two years away have instilled in me a desire to live and a love for myself I’ve never before experienced. I’ve pushed myself to and right fuckin’ past almost all my previously perceived limits and now thinking about it, I’ve only got a thirst for more: more sights, more colours, more culture, more lessons (hard ones and easy ones), and more love.

Sitting here, waiting for Ryanair flight FR6624 to Krakow, I’m reminded why pushing myself past my comfort levels is so important. It keeps me inspired. This is the first time in about three months that I’ve written anything. And my fingers are itching to write more.

Throughout the next three weeks, maybe good shit will happen, maybe bad shit will happen, but hopefully I’ll continue to be this excited to write it all down, share my story, and blog the way only an incredibly lucky and privileged, travelling,  naïve, twenty-something can.