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February 26, 2012

Travel, Connect & Grow

It all started with the themes and costumes when members began to do funny or crazy things that I never expected based on my first impression. The best example was nearly 18 years ago, during one of our first cruises when Ron, a mild mannered man, somewhat quiet, wearing glasses and slightly balding, turned into the funniest female impersonator during our first Ms. Singles Travel beauty contest as one the 4 male to female contestants names “Shirley”. Ron not only came alive in the part but was the hit of the event and the laughter in our show room drew cruisers from all over to watch and participate. Ron was no longer a wall flower but the star of the cruise! His ability to take a risk and let his hair down was an inspiration to many.

In our day-to-day lives, we interact with people at home and work who have already judged us and think they know who we are based on our relationships and the past. Those views of us, often keep us in our place, so to speak, and inhibit our creativity or our ability to pursue the real you. Some of us even hear critical comments such as, “you could not”, “you would never be able”, and “it’s not like you to” and so on. Our friends and family truly believe that their “constructive” criticism is to help us when all we really need is a loving and supportive platform to discover who we are and how we want to live our lives.

Stop right now and think about what you do for a living. Did you really choose it for yourself? Reflect on the times and circumstances that lead you to your decision and whether or not it was a pure decision based on your passions or persuaded by someone else close to you.

A place and time free from being judged and with new people that take you for face value without any previous ideas about whom you are make a fertile ground for discovering who you really are deep inside. This is the first step toward healing and personal growth.

Now picture an exotic location with people that may seem to have a similar interest in travel or the destination and are also single, have come all by themselves and come with a long and rich, yet sometimes painful history of their past. I promise that every one of them took great pains to decide whether or not this was the right move for them. Can I afford it, will I be accepted/rejected, will I meet someone, will I get to do everything on my list, and will I fit into that dress /those pants by the time I go? But decide you did and that is half the battle.

Add to that, a team of staffers who are excitedly anticipating your arrival with a weeklong list of fun things for you to try and do, or not. A smiling concierge team trained to watch for the slightest hesitation and provide the support and encouragement to help you overcome it. There is no pressure to perform or participate, but just be you.

For some it takes a few days, others, the entire week. But sooner or later, one connection after the other with the “happy” people that you meet on vacation, you’ll discover that you are not alone and that there are others that truly care about finding out more about you and who you are. People who can’t wait to be entertained by your piano playing, hear about how you like to spend your free time, or learn the same dance so that you can both try it out after dinner. Such an accepting environment is created by the people around you. The more connections the better the vibes and the easier it is to cast aside all the “images” and “misperceptions” of YOU and let your hair hang loose. The best part of all is that there is little risk to fail, because at the end of the trip, you go home and you are your same ole self. But maybe not, perhaps this is just the beginning of the new you. More likely, you’ll have made some new friends and learned something new about yourself. Most likely, you’ll have the time of your life!

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