I never would’ve guessed, when I unwrapped my new backpack at Christmas, how much I could change in these 7 months; and how dearly I’d love the bright blue bag.

The transformation started as I hastily stuffed clothes into the pack 24 hours before I flew to India. And now, I sit writing in a bar in France, and I adore that backpack with everlasting affection for all that it has inspired to do and become. Admittedly I feel rather silly to solely thank a bag for my happiness, as I know that really I have achieved my joy by my own accord. But the second I placed it onto my back, I was no longer socially anxious Mel, but rather an adventurer on the way to somewhere beautiful (both physically and in a philosophical sense).

Backpackers are known as being brave, and have an extraordinary talent for wanting to try new things and having the courage to do them. It’s really dumb, I know, but I felt that owning a ‘cool’ backpack with so many functions was a step in the right direction when it came to my goal of being a happy and courageous traveller and person!

When in India with ICS, whenever I felt anxious or fearful, all I had to do was look at my bag and was filled with pride at my victories, and reminded of my family’s support for my desire to leave my little footprint on this earth.

And now as I look at its dirty marks and questionable stains, all I see is the memories of how I happy I was the first time I used it in India. I remember the smiles of the happy kids; and I think that there is nothing in the world that could encourage me to travel, to battle injustices in whatever way I can, and spread awareness to my friends, of how others humans live in poverty, but still smile widely with infinite love and affection.

The silly bag has encouraged me to be trusting, but still with care, and whilst in possession of it I have made many great friends from the UK and beyond.

Perhaps this blog has a moral that tells you to find your own ‘backpack’ and carry your courage and compassion with you daily. I’m not sure. For now I am content with the abilities I’ve gained in the past 7 months, and the boldness that I’ve found, that allows me to believe that I am capable of whatever I wish to do. And I only hope that my lovely readers feel the same.