When the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve in Montmartre, Paris, there were no fireworks, no confetti, or fancy drinks. But I had everything to be grateful for.

And to think, just a year ago, I was wondering whether this life of meandering around Europe would be worth pursuing at all.

And the truth is, I still do sometimes.

But as I stood there that night, looking at the sea of people chanting and laughing, and the big, beautiful sky, I had no doubt that it was.

Luck: the things that happen to a person because of chance : the accidental way things happen without being planned. -Merriam Webster

We often hear this word thrown around casually. But how many of us actually stop to think about which parts of our lives are due to luck and which parts are our own doing?

I did because I hear it pretty often when I tell people I live in Spain and I always wonder what they mean.

Do they mean I’m lucky because I have the opportunity to live in Spain? Or that I have the guts to follow my heart? Because those are two very different things.

If you think I’m lucky because I can live in Spain then you’re absolutely correct. I am lucky.

I am lucky because my parents brought me to the United States when I was young.

I am lucky because I grew up speaking English which is a skill that I can use to find work abroad.

I am lucky because both my parents are able to take care of themselves financially and physically.

I am lucky because I have a passport that allows me to travel to many countries without visas.

And I’m lucky because I have people around me that accept me for who I am.

ALL of these things are considered “luck” because I never had to work for them. They came to me either through my parents or by chance. And for that, I’m grateful.

However, if you think I’m lucky for having the courage to move abroad alone, then know this:

There is nothing lucky about courage.

Because courage is an acquired skill.

Mine started at the age of 16, when I decided I no longer wanted to rely on my parents for money.

I took a babysitting job and scanned documents in an office. I had no idea what I was doing but it taught me to ask questions and take advantage of the resources around me.

Then through that job, I realized I never want to work in an office as an adult. I actually remember saying that to myself and have since stayed true to it.

Then college came and I put myself through it with grants and loans. I also worked on the side to pay for my own expenses.

It’s not that my parents didn’t have the ability to help me at all but I just never felt right asking them since they’ve already sacrificed and given me so much.

It sounds crazy to say this but I’m grateful for these circumstances because they taught me how to be resourceful, frugal, and prioritize the things that really matter to me in life, such as traveling–something I always knew I wanted to do.

Me studying in Kenya when I was 21.

Furthermore, when I traveled to faraway places alone, I had to learn how to stick up for myself when there was no one else around me to do it.

And when I told people that I wanted to travel the world, not everyone believed me but who would? Who believes a 17-year-old when she tells them she’s going to travel the world? But all of this skepticism only made me want to do it even more.

And that’s how courage came to me. It wasn’t by accident, by fluke, and it certainly wasn’t by “luck.”

So if you ask me if I think I’m lucky? Absolutely.

There’s no doubt about it. I know the life that I live is a blessed life and there isn’t a single day that I wake up and don’t count my blessings.

But I also feel there is no need to deny hard work to explain how we got somewhere.

If you were given a blessed life, use it. Live it to its fullest.

And if you weren’t, decide that you want better and realize it’s completely up to you to change it or remain there.

Before I decided to pursue my dreams, I used to always look at successful people and think, “How lucky.”

Then I would blame my circumstances, my upbringing, my lack of money, my lack of time, and basically everything besides myself for my lack of courage.

But once I met people in my travels who told me they couldn’t go to places due to their passports, or that they couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have books, my perspective on life and luck completely changed.

I realized luck only plays a small role in success.

Luck can win us things that we have no control over but our circumstances and mindsets ARE things that we can change.

And if you don’t realize that and learn to see the opportunities in your everyday life, then no amount of luck in life is going to help you.

So yes, having luck on our side is awesome but having wit, grit, and integrity is way better.

About Living the Free Way

LTFW is a travel blog that emphasizes giving ourselves permission to do the things we love and stepping outside or our comfort zones. You can learn more about the author on the 'About' page.
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