“If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.”
(Family picture taken the summer of 2013 before I set off on my journey)
“What do your parents think.” That is one of the most common question I am asked by foreigners and westerners alike. So, I decided to ask them exactly what they thought about their twenty year old daughter setting off to cycle around the world.
“When Shirine was 3 years old she came home and happily informed us she was going back to sleep over at a friend’s house that night. We learned early Shirine is independent. She also strives to reach her goals. We are nervous about this trip and hope she keeps safe. We are also eager to read her blogs and hear of her exploits. We live vicariously through her trip more than anyone. More than anything we are extremely proud of her.”
Since my father traveled for work when I was younger I had already been on multiple trips to Europe, and once to Israel, New Zealand, and Belize, by the time I left on exchange to Belgium at sixteen (where I lived for a year). These trips opened my eyes to the world of travel, thanks to my parents, which is what lead me to backpack through South America at eighteen. After that, I knew I could do anything. Though it probably wasn’t easy for my parents to let me leave, alone, to cycle through countries most people don’t even dream of visiting, I can always teasingly remind them that it’s their fault for showing me from such a young age that there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored. And it is the absolute best thing they ever did for me, something I will never be able to thank them enough for, since it is the base for what made me the traveler I am today.
The other part of me, the adventure part, that wants to ski, cycle, camp, climb, and try new things, is a great example of how nature and nurture work together to form someone’s personality and lifestyle. Though I camped and cycled with my parents when I was younger, they are not adventure junkies as I have turned out to be. They showed me the outdoors, and from there, I took it to another level by trying and falling in love with different “extreme sports.” The reason I climbed my first mountain (at eighteen in South America) was purely because it was something new I had never tried, my curious nature taking over. The reason I climbed my second one, was because I loved the feeling of absolute exhaustion that only an all night climb can give you, and because I loved the thrill of complete isolation, standing halfway up a 6,000m mountain, as you watch the sunrise. My parents taught me that I could do anything, and my curiosity and sense of adventure has led me to try things most people would never think of. When you put those two things together, you apparently get a cycling trip around the world!