Travel Chats

Candid Chats w/ KO

Last year at BlogHer15’s Experts Among Us conference in New York City, I met fellow blogger, Liv of Unbelievably Human and we connected on travel and life experiences. I invited Liv to be a part of my #100DaysofConfessions project and she equally had a few questions of her own for me regarding thoughts on travel and self-love. View our candid conversation below!

Has travel always been apart of your background? or Did something call you to Travel?

Travel has always been in my genes and from birth I’ve been nomadic due to having parents from different cultural backgrounds creating a delicate tight rope between America and Africa. Tracing where I was born and raised always turns into a geography lesson of sorts with the most frequent stints in California, New York and Nigeria so roaming has always been a natural extension of who I am at my core. However, despite my frequent movement as a child, I truly didn’t appreciate the character growth that stems from travel until my junior year in college when I decided to live and study abroad in Australia for six months on a whim.

What gave you this perspective?

I went through all the wavelengths of bending and stretching through growing pains for the first time being completely on my own in Australia far from anything that was inherently familiar to me on the face. I experienced connecting with a part of the world I previously had never had access to despite growing up in a global hub like New York. I engaged with both positive and negative aspects of being “different” from something as simple as a general, warm fascination about my hair to being assumed a refugee by a promoter on the street based on my skin tone.

All of these experiences helped hone my ability to comfortably interact with people from various walks of life while simultaneously affirming my identity boldly at the same time. Australia is still one of my absolute favorite places in the world that I fondly reminisce about and where I made some of my deepest lasting friendships. I always think it’s very important to never judge an entire area by specs of ignorance you may encounter.

How often do you travel?

Currently I travel about every three months having that be a mixture of both domestic and international travel. Suitcases have literally become my drawers, which has its positives and negatives. Every time I get ready to pack, I always watch George Carlin’s classic “Stuff” routine, story of my life!

In all seriousness, though I travel frequently, I much more prefer to stay in a specific area for an extended length of time to really immerse myself in everyday local experiences and ingest as much of its customs as I can rather than chasing stamps and upping my country count.

Speaking of racking up stamps, what do you think of the current crops of millennial jet-set travel groups?

I find the budding culture of the millennial travel sect equally fascinating & empowering as well as irksome in many ways and am very conscious of my role within the community. I love and am excited about how the sense of wanderlust and adventure is rapidly spreading and becoming the new norm again due to social media and we’re no longer relying on the old framework set out by our parents’ generation to define our sense of selves and what the quote on quote “good life” looks like. However, as the tried and true statement goes – with great power comes great responsibility.

Social media has bridged the gap of communication where we’re all around this amazing, interactive campfire with others from around the world that we may never have encountered on the road if not for technology and innovation but at the same time, these campfires have created huddles of cliques displaying highlight reels setting the precedence of what it means to be a nomad or traveler and in a sense creates a term I like to coin, “travel shaming”. It would be cool to see more outlets elevate travel conversations to display more balanced and fuller experiences that also engage in sustainable tourism, social/identity issues, connecting with locals and promoting education & learning as a means of empowerment rather than always turning up on a Tuesday.

No one should be made to feel inadequate about how often they have traveled; it should be more about transforming consciousness and awareness of what other experiences lie beyond our front doors as well as owning our strong ability to create and shift culture as millennials. It’s definitely a double-edged sword welded by the glossy feeds of social media that I’m very passionate about examining further.

Travel chat khadijat

Discussing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on-site with Emmy-winning filmmaker & founder of I Sell the Shadow, Lisa Russell. Photo by Pascal Bernier

How has your life changed once you started traveling?

Life has become fuller upon traveling. The act of constantly moving beyond my comfort zone has challenged me to confront my values and priorities as a person and what my contributions are to the greater whole. When you travel, you realize and appreciate the measure of character in individuals and it’s made me a better lover in all senses of the word. I’ve learned to really become a better giver to and receiver of other people’s energy as well as my own while releasing the diluted levels of self-importance that can tend to build up when constantly running around the wheel of routine. You realize what inherently matters on a basic level and try and help your fellow neighbor as well as yourself get on as best as you can while remaining present in the bigger, grand scheme of life.

How do you commit to loving yourself each and everyday?

I commit to loving myself by loving myself despite myself. The mind will constantly reel about various “should haves”, “could haves”, “want to’s”, and all other manifestations of desire that more than likely will never comfortably fit in one lifetime. But, to truly envelope a sense of self-love is to recognize these tendencies, let go of your inhibitions and connect within your present moments and recognize them for what they are…YOUR moments. No one else can live them out better than you can…they are your story and legacy.

How do you express yourself creatively in the following areas: love for self, love for others, love for life?

Self-love comes through how I present myself to tackle each daily battle which comes in numerous forms of expression that can be deconstructed to attire, a manner of speaking, rolling my shoulders back and walking with my head high enough to meet the clouds.

My love for others comes from listening and engaging in their experiences and stories. I’m much more fascinated in hearing about what dreams others have and what drives them to get up each and everyday and approach life as they do. I’m a huge fan of understanding process and examining what that relentless passion is that brings about pleasure and a sense of reverence.

Love for life is extending a hand to others and realizing that we’re all a lot more similar than we’d care to admit at times and facing this reality together. Laughter is the quickest means of seeing how simple loving life can actually be once we just let our natural essence roll with the course of the universe.

Do you ever have tough days? If so do you refocus that energy, creatively?

Of course! Quieting the mind is essential to constructively moving past any pitfalls. I find solace in resting my mind between headphones while engaging in any form of movement whether walking, hopping on a train, dancing or hula hooping, whatever strikes a chord in the given moment to seep negativity out of my pores. Hanging on to disruptive thoughts derail progress and is always a constant struggle especially as a creative…finding some form of meditation is key.

Do you believe that ashes can become beauty? If, so why?

Absolutely! In fact, I’m obsessed with the mythological characteristics of the phoenix. Pain and pleasure are interchangeable elements of what it means to be human. There is no way of differentiating any experience without being thrust into either realm. To fully evolve into beauty, which is a life-long process, it’s important to remain open and get to a place where energy and life lessons are constantly being recycled to gain greater perspective. Being able to rise against all odds is one of the greatest stories ever told.

Travel chat Khadijat Oseni

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  1. Jeanette Millard says

    I love this description: “releasing the diluted levels of self-importance that can tend to build up when constantly running around the wheel of routine.” That is one of the reasons I really love travel, too. Perspective!
    My question for you, KO, is: do you have a home base, (NY right?) and what do you gain from it, that plays a role in being able to enjoy travel?

    • Hi Jeanette!

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for asking such a great question 🙂 Yes I do have a home base, which is New York. I’ve found that life in New York is equally privileged and humbling. It’s privileged in the sense that you can walk out in the streets of the city and meet a multitude of worlds in a day. There’s so much noise and access to various types of culture without really having to go that far out of your way to experience these worlds. So much so that I’ve had many nights with born & raised New Yorkers who refuse to go anywhere else because just about everything is easily within reach. On the other hand, it’s humbling because you’re literally a tiny light beam amid all the bustling sounds, colors and traffic. New York is the perfect training ground to live anywhere and has made me more relatable on a global scale!

      • Jeanette Millard says

        Aha! That makes total sense, KO – and it reminds me of a comment an old friend made years ago. He was a frequent traveler, and then moved to NYC because, he said, “That’s as close to constant world travel as it gets.” I had forgotten all about that!

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