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When You're The Wild One

April 27, 2016

I was a wild child.

Obviously the coolest kid on the block.

 

Really wild - and I have the photo documentation to prove it. There is not a day that goes by that I don't rejoice that the internet was mostly Home Star Runner and EBaums World when I was a preteen and high schooler, because kids? The internet is forever. And I would have had it tattooed on my forehead at 16.

Yes, those are gloves without fingers, why do you ask?

 

I didn't just party, I was straight up wild. Untamed. I was the one who would suggest we jump off the roof into the pool. Or sneak out of the house in the middle of the night just to walk in the rain barefoot and half naked. I was always frantic, half out of my mind because I constantly needed more insane adventure. And I felt like no one understood, no one felt the same need.

 

 The original digital selfie - taken from your best friend's desktop.

 

When I was younger, my friends and I always talked about travel. Far off exotic islands that could only be seen in National Geographic, mountain peaks inaccessible to man, deserts that stretched on for an eternity. We discussed adventures, white sandy beaches, jungles, ziplines, sky diving, underwater worlds, and more. We made extensive plans, plotted out routes, even discussed what clothing we would bring.

 

I spent a lot of time in my beloved Polynesia with family, I did the classic high school European and Mexico Trips, I visited Canada, I road tripped as often and as far as my wallet allowed (and several times did not allow). I was ready for more. We had all talked about it, we had all said we wanted to, we had planned for this for years!

 

So it caught me off guard when everyone had multiple excuses

why they couldn't go.

Waimea - I am clearly a professional cliff jumper.

 

There was university-parents-boyfriends-girlfriends-jobs-money-timing standing in the way and the ever so popular: "Oh Malia, I would love to go but..." I felt alone. I didn't understand. University would be there, parents could be persuaded (or gone around), significant others that didn't desire to travel were the bane of existence, jobs and money could be procured along the way, and for the love of the land if one more person said my name following a sigh of exasperation? I was going to straight up lose it.

 

I waited for everyone anyway. And waited. But there was always another excuse, there was always another reason to delay. And I had to go. So I bought a ticket. One way. I didn't announce it, I just left and most people didn't know I was out of the country until I had been gone for over a month.

Peru - where I really learned how to be wild.

 

Initially it was not the great adventure I had imagined. I was lonely and overwhelmed. I watched a lot of 24 with my flatmates. Slowly though, I began to widen my world. Venturing out in circles, becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. During the days I would motor around to ruins or teach English or wander markets or watch adorable little Peruvian babies. During the nights I would dance at salsa bars, turn down the advances of handsome gentlemen, and visit cumbia clubs.

 

And I found people like me! So many people like me. Adventurers who had made the "irresponsible" decision to put off "the real world" in order to see the real world. I realized I had never been alone, but that vagabonds are busy vagabonding. And we can't always wait for one another and our paths don't always cross. My wild pent up energy came from my need for change, for something different, for adventure. There was nothing wrong with me and nothing wrong with my friends who just didn't have that strand of DNA.

 

And so, in no specific order, my adventures went.

 

There were more places, more adventures and I don't have a lot of pictures of myself in them - because I was busy. Really busy. And when you're the wild one, you can't always stop to ask people to take photos of you. Because most of the time? I went alone. Sometimes my path crossed other people travelling in the same direction and we would go together, but I spent much of my time on my own. Which was good for me. Good for my crazy spirit to learn how to calm itself.

 

I am constantly learning that I really know nothing. When I was younger I wanted to feel like I belonged, it was difficult being the wild one. There were a lot of hard harsh things that were said about me, sometimes to my face and other times not so much. That sense of wanting to belong, to be like the rest still strikes me occasionally. But then I have a moment of clarity and it all comes back to me.

I am wild.

I am not embarrassed about who I was or what I did, mostly it just makes my heart ache for that lonely girl. I wish I could tell her that she will find her tribe in the most unlikely of places. I would tell her to wait for no one and let her heart lead her - not because it's never wrong, but because it knows what it wants. I would tell her to listen to her instincts and live dangerously. I would tell her that being alone is actually the greatest gift. And I would tell her that patience is overrated and crucial all at the same time.

 

And if you have the travel bug? That wildness in you? Don't let the world take it from you. You will find your own path. And it will be spectacular. You will find your people, find your community in places you never imagined. So get out there. And be wild.

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