One of my favorite parts about traveling is how it allows me to connect with other humans. On my recent flight to Miami, I sat next to an older man dressed in white pants and a blue button up. He carried with him a small leather briefcase and his iPad that had a collage of his dog as the background. I tend to stay in my own world when I fly, but here and there I’ll engage with those sitting near me if they start a conversation. We didn’t engage much on the flight, but he did offer me a piece of gum and that was that. It was when we both got off the plane and ended up at the same terminal for the connecting flight that our inspiring conversation happened.

I was looking for a coffee shop and I saw him with a cup in his hand. Of course I asked him where it was from and he offered to watch my bags while I ran there. A kind gesture that is always great when you’re lugging around bags. As I returned to my things, he ended up sitting next to me. We began talking about why we were heading to Miami. I was headed there to connect with my friends from my hometown. He was headed there for work. We found out we were both transplants to Los Angeles. He had fled his hometown of Iran when he was young and moved to Washington D.C. He began studying Interior Design in college and turned it into a full-time career, a successful one too. If you know me personally, you will know if I wasn’t following my current path of destiny I would’ve gone into Interior Design. I love architecture and always pay attention to how interiors are designed. I just recently had to draw up blueprints for a new office space in L.A. and I loved drawing on my graph paper and seeing a drawing come into fruition in real life. Anyhow, this man moved to Los Angeles about 40 years ago. He, like myself, packed up his belongings, drove to L.A. and never looked back. 

At this time in my life, I am taking a lot of risks and listening to all of the signs sent my way. He mentioned my age and how much life I have ahead of me. I know I am young, but getting reminded that my life is practically just getting started is relieving. I still have so much time to follow what I love to do and figure it out. He had mentioned that as people grow older, begin to settle, and get comfortable, they often begin to fear stepping out of their comfort zone. He said now is the time to take risks because as you get older the risks you are able to take become more calculated. This conversation happened at the time I needed it. Most of the time, we are what holds us back. Whether it’s fear of failure or fear of getting out of your comfort zone, that is you holding you back. 

I dream of traveling the world for work. It has been a goal of mine since I was young. I like to see the world and all its cultures. I asked him many questions about his career. I wanted to hear more about his traveling. He explained to me that he mostly does interior design in the hospitality field, a.k.a. designing hotels. This trip was different; he was currently going to design a $20 million dollar house for a family that was located right on the ocean front in Miami. He was also worried that in a few months their beautiful house was going to be underwater, but didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news. I told him this seems like a dream. He said he lives a good life. He is able to travel everywhere for work. Two of his favorite places he’s traveled for work are Bali and Kyoto. I think myself and a million others dream of traveling to Bali. We both had a similar opinion on Paris in that it wasn’t either one of our favorite cities. He goes to Italy every year and said Milan is a dream. My grandfather is straight off the boat from Italy and Italy is somewhere I have high up on my travel list. I love the culture, the language, the food and the Italian way of life. I dream of going to Milan Fashion Week over Paris Fashion week. Maybe Italy will be my travel of choice next year but Lord knows I’ve been ready to hop on a flight there yesterday.

I kept asking him about different travels he's taken. He said Dubai is unreal, like a true mirage. The Dubai people also love Americans and are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Another hotel he was designing allowed him to travel to Nepal to get the authentic rugs made there. He spent time with the refugees of Nepal and mentioned how meaningful that trip was to him. These are stories I vision myself experiencing as I grow my career. He mentioned how he saw his younger self in me, which I could feel. One of the last things he said to me before we boarded the flight was that the ones who break out of their shell with no fear are the ones who succeed. He said he saw that in me and to go after what I want in life with no fear. Now is the time to do it. As the flight landed in Miami, he got off before me but not without a wave and a smile goodbye to each other. I never caught his name, but I was so grateful for that conversation. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It seemed like God and the universe were sending a messenger my way to remind me to keep going fearlessly. The inspiration I felt has been strong since I landed in South Beach. As much as I wish I was still currently in the clear blue waters of Miami, I am excited to be typing this on my flight back to L.A. and get back to building the blueprint of the life I am creating for myself. I believe sometimes you have to find inspiration for yourself and just making the effort to find it will guide you to people, places and things that will make that spark inside of your soul ignite.