Leaving it all behind to travel: venturing uncertainty as a means to personal growth and authenticity

Article


Hirschorn, Sara and Hefferon, K. 2013. Leaving it all behind to travel: venturing uncertainty as a means to personal growth and authenticity. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 53 (2).
AuthorsHirschorn, Sara and Hefferon, K.
Abstract

The potential for personal growth in cross-cultural travel has been posited by numerous psychologists; however, a “gaping hole” in empirical research has left these hypotheses unexplored. Meanwhile, rapidly increasing numbers of people are choosing to leave their careers to pursue a personal dream of extensive foreign travel. The aim of this study was to explore the motivations, psychological experiences, and outcomes from travel in this growing “career-break” demographic. Ten men and women who had exited their careers to pursue extensive culturally engaging travel participated in an individual semistructured interview that was analyzed using constructivist grounded theory. Three main themes emerged: an existential yearning to travel, “jumping off the ledge” (courage), and discovering authenticity. Personal growth occurred via adversity within the travel experience itself, but also at the pretravel stage of departure, where leaving security and venturing uncertainty was experienced with “milestone” significance and, for some, as a seismic event akin to trauma. Future research should explore the potential for a new type of intrinsically emerging trauma in posttraumatic growth and the potential for anxiety as a positive construct in authentic becoming and growth.

Keywordspersonal development; uncertainty
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Journal citation53 (2)
ISSN1552-650X
0022-1678
Year2013
PublisherSAGE
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022167813483007
Publication dates
Print05 Apr 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Apr 2013
Copyright information(c) The Authors. The definitive version of this article was published by SAGE in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53 (2).
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