Some of you may know this, some of you may not, but i took a full month off in the prime of wedding season to go to Europe summer 2015. It sounds absolutely crazy, but I consider it absolutely necessary for many many reasons. I needed to rediscover myself. I needed to take a chance on myself. I needed to start living my dreams. I won’t be sharing all of the photos, but these are a handful of them that tell that story.
Let me give you some back story leading up to this trip. (***disclaimer***- this is probably the most personal blog post that i have written to date, so feel free to scroll ahead if you are just here for photos, but there’s a cool story here if you take the time to read it and you’ll certainly learn about me.)
As of 12 months before this trip, i had visited 1 other country. Mexico. In one city for about an hour. living in southern california, mexico is just 2 hours south. i visited a port city while on a cruise with my family when i was 12. We got off the boat for a few minutes, got a souvenir or two and got back on the boat. I don’t quite count it, but o well. In September 2014, my friend, nick, and i went to Seattle, WA for a week and spent a day in Vancouver B.C.. i count that as my first time visiting another country.
in the following 12 months, i spent time in canada, belize, england, scotland, wales, holland, and france. 7 countries.
i have explored 9 states (not including my own) and 4 of those were brand new to me.
those numbers are crazy for me. i didn’t start traveling till 2012.
now things get real and personal.
in mid 2014, my life took a massive turn. graduation from college and a massive breakup threw my life into a downward spiral.
i fought depression for months. i put my business on the back burners for months. my health/fitness got away from me. i lost a lot of joy in my life. ya, there was still tons of good in my life, but i really had a lot of soul searching to do. i didn’t know who i was anymore, who God was, what i wanted in life, i had a super distorted view of love and relationships and really started fighting a begrudging attitude when it came to being a wedding photographer who really didn’t want to be around weddings, etc… you get the picture. things were a mess. on that trip to the pnw in 2014, i realized that i was in my unhealthiest state ever. i wasn’t even happy with myself.
i decided then that things needed to change. part of that was a decision that i needed to take a year of intentional singleness to repair and renew my view of love. for my clients and myself.
days later, i received a phone call about a coaching opportunity at my old high school. i went in for an interview upon returning from seattle and walked out with a job offer to run the girls’ soccer program at my old school. i accepted days later. this started a big change in my life. i started fighting to get things in line as my responsibility for these players. the more i invested in helping them, the more i was investing in myself. they taught me a lot. i spent hours each day on the soccer field and started getting healthier and enjoying things more. i started seeing my attitude towards work recover. i celebrated love and was inspired by it and realized that i was excited for the day that i would have that myself. my depression was lifting day by day. i started dreaming of goals in my life and career and decided to be completely intentional about those things and not just set my goals, but find ways to actively pursue them. the new year came and left, the season ended with some disappointment but loads of anticipation for the years ahead and i immediately left for a wedding in washington. this trip sparked something in me again. it set a fire right when i needed it. my year filled up with weddings all over the us and i started seeing business inspiration in my work and new projects that will come soon. i decided to make my lifelong dream of traveling to europe become a reality. as i planned it out, i decided that only fittingly could it be august. my birthday month, a month that marked 12 months of intentional singleness, and a celebration of what has passed, the growth that has happened, and the journey ahead.
i couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate those milestones.
through the calendar year, i went from depressed to thriving and joyful, from unhealthy to better than i’ve been in years, from uninspired to drafting new ides almost daily. traveling isn’t just a part of my life that is a luxury. it’s a necessity. it challenges me in so many ways. it celebrates things.
it means that i am not just dreaming, but doing.
read that last line again. i think that so much boils down to that idea.
anyone can dream. very few will ever make their dreams their reality.
as i return from this trip, i feel like i have found so much of myself and my purpose. i have new found appreciation for people everywhere and the magnificence of the moments of stillness caused by overwhelming beauty. i know that traveling the world is one of my most prominent passions in life.
after spending 26 days in europe, i came back to the states and visited richmond and new york and shot a wedding on my birthday. i returned home and surprised my family exactly a month from when i departed and a week before i had originally shared as my return date. this trip was incredible, breathtaking, mindblowing, and so much more.
and so now, my photo series begins…
this trip was absolutely amazing in every way. i don’t think i’ll ever forget it. what adds to how amazing it was, is that less than a month after returning, i met abigail, who became my girlfriend soon after, and is now my fiancée. that year of intentional singleness, investing in myself, and pursuing childhood dreams of mine, landed me in the best relationship i ever imagined and launched me into a while new chapter of my life.
long story short: invest in yourself and your dreams. its worth it.
-Ryan Scott Welsh