By: Ashmi Pathela. Originally appeared in Covival. Cape Town alumni 2017
While planning my upcoming trip around the world, I skimmed countless articles on “The top 10 destinations this year” and “Places to go before you die.” All of those surreal photos and catchy descriptions made me starry-eyed, but there was something missing. But who would be there when I arrive? Where would I belong? What if I could make community my destination?
I could be happy all day exploring breathtaking sights, eating exotic foods, relaxing in balmy climates – but as a solo traveler, none of that matters as much as community.
I know I’ll meet awesome people everywhere I go. For any traveler willing to offer a friendly smile and strike up a conversation, that’s a given. But I want something more. Extended solo travel can be incredibly lonely, and friendships made on the road are vibrant, yet fleeting shooting stars.
What I mean by community, is my tribe: intentional communities where kindred spirits share not only a roof or communal desk together, but ideas, support, and laughter.
I want to find my people – people who are chasing their dreams and striving to make a difference in the world, in their own way. They reject society’s rules and follow the beat of their drum. They challenge and inspire me. Some may be spiritual, searching for something greater than themselves. Maybe they’re little weird, like me. Or they’re completely different, and stepping into their lives through conversation has the power to profoundly broaden my perspective. They’re entrepreneurs, creatives, dreamers, and doers who have not forgotten to follow their heart.
It’s a beautiful experience to surround yourself with your tribe. The sense of familiarity shared among the new people you meet makes it easy to fall deeply into conversations of the soul. I had a taste of this last year when I spent a few days in Tulum, Mexico with 400 people through Summit. The community was diverse in terms of backgrounds, perspectives, careers, ages, and personal stories – but what brought us together were our shared values and aspirations. When you make community your destination, the setting becomes that much sweeter. There was a magic in the air in Tulum that week.
Honestly, it was the first time I truly felt like I belonged. I wasn’t that weird! There were people like me, and people who inspired me. They were spiritual (without being woo-woo), and driven, intelligent, fun-loving. Maybe it was the setting and sense of community that brought those deep conversations out of us, but it gave me the courage to wear more of my soul on my sleeve.
On this next trip, I’m traveling to my people. That’s why I’m visiting tech hubs, staying in beautiful coliving spaces that call to me, coworking with entrepreneurs, and joining the Unsettled retreat in October. I’ll travel slowly, staying longer in each place. Of course, I’ll hop to other destinations on my bucket list in between – but I hope to do that with the sparkly people I meet along the way.
Ashmi Pathela is a San Francisco native who is now traveling to tech hubs around the world to explore new ways to work, live, and cocreate. She created Covival, a blog and community for the new breed of independent workers and entrepreneurs. Covival shines a light on the stories of these entrepreneurs, trends in coworking and coliving, the future of work and collaboration, and intentional communities. We’re excited to have her join our Unsettled retreat in Cape Town!