April 12, 2014

Free Spirit: Brianna Gorsky

Happy Saturday Folks! Amber and I are excited to introduce a wanderlust soul that has walked where many of us have dreamed of walking; has endured circumstances that no one would prefer, and gazed upon some of the most beautiful sights in the world.  Brianna Gorsky is a 24 year old Cancer from Detroit, Michigan, who just recently made it back to the states after spending the last year in Seoul, South Korea.  Brianna has a presence that creates instant comfort upon meeting her.  She has a keen sight of the world and so eloquently tells her stories with conviction and vivid description.  She is a confident dream seeker, who seeks light, truth, and happiness- the ultimate quest for life. 

"You are not an Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder.  It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you." -Vandana Shiva

Opal + Wonder: Tell us how you keep your mind stimulated?  What are some of your favorite books, movies, and/or music?

Brianna Gorsky: Keeping your mind stimulated is one of the most important things you can do for your happiness, and, as we are now discovering, your health.  I've always been a true book worm.  A good book is just as good as a vacation, taking you to faraway places.  I can't tout the brilliance of Gabriel Garcia Marquez enough, and I'm currently having an affair with everything by David Mitchell. Documentaries are a staple of my daily life, to remind myself of how much I don't know, and open my eyes to worlds often unseen. Traveling and interacting with new and unique individuals challenges me the most and helps me to look at the world in new ways. 

O+W: Tell us your passions.  What matters to you?

BG: Defining my passions is much more difficult than I anticipated. Its something we're asked and pressured into defining our entire lives. So many things matter to me its often overwhelming and riddles me with anxiety. Most simply, I suppose, my passion is that everyone has a birth right to happiness and should be given every opportunity and tools that they need to live a life of passion, if you can define such a thing.

O+W: What did you learn about yourself during your experiences abroad?

BG: My experiences abroad, as cliche as it may sound, have taught me a lot about myself. We surround ourselves with people who love us, and who we love back. They are our support system, our motivators, our cheerleaders. During my travels I have gone through periods of "darkness"; no phone calls, internet, etc., not always by choice. This taught me to learn to like myself. It seems such a simple thing.  But, no matter how down we get at home there is someone there for us, to tell us its okay, that we're worth it, that if we keep going everything will be okay. When you're stranded without anyone you know, anyone who speaks your language or understands the world that you come from or that you can blame, you have to reconcile with yourself. You have to learn to like or at least accept the person that you are for all of your faults. You have to be the person that believes in you, you have to be your own support system. This was something that I gained that I had never even given a thought to. I learned to love myself. 

O+W: What were some of your favorite experiences in India and South Korea?

BG: The best experiences I've had are when I stopped planning things and just allowed myself to go adrift. They were the days that I got lost in Seoul and stumbled upon hidden nooks of artists and chocolate shops. They were when I had meals with strangers from the buses in India, or convinced my friends that I knew exactly where the hiking trail opened, which as it turns out, I certainly did not. The most wonderful things that happen when traveling are often simple days where all of your plans go to hell. The best things were rarely the tourist attractions that I insisted on seeing and more about bumping into the real lives, smells, and personalities of a place.

O+W: Tell us about your favorite foods? Or places to eat?

BG: Food defines cultures and regions and connects people. My favorite food depends on where in the world I am and what season it is. I love shared meals with local fare. While in Korea my favorite meals were centered around a single shared grill or pot, allowing people to really connect and converse over their meals. This is something that was almost lost here at home but is resurfacing! Be sure, I'm not saying I don't enjoy a good chili dog or the occasional fast food drive-thrus!

O+W: Any strange "Aha" moments that humbled you?

BG: Traveling humbles you. Removing yourself from your comfort zone and diving deep into something that terrifies and confuses you is humbling in a way that brings a sense of peace. Getting lost and having to rely on nonverbal communication and the kindness of strangers makes everything seem a bit more manageable. 

"Aha" moments happened on a daily basis, as simply as when I was properly taught how to eat curry with my hands. Which, before hand, was a very messy situation that elicited laughter, at my expense, all around me. The childlike "aha's" never ceased. No matter how much research I do before I go to a new place it seems like all of the little things are left out, like why are there so many buttons on that toilet or what am I supposed to do with these tongs? The list is never ending but fills me with a childlike naivete and curiosity that is the best feeling in the world.  

O+W: How did you cope with being uncomfortable and alone? 

BG: Traveling is not always a fairy tale adventure, as I always imagined it to be, or  the party that it is often portrayed to be. My second stay in India was the first time I decided to travel solo. I had been to India with a study abroad, so I was excited and believed that I was prepared. What I did not realize in my first trip was that we had been very sheltered. I arrived and immediately got a tuktuk to my hostel. It was dark, I was tired. In the morning I went out to purchase a train ticket and explore and, I was in shock. The poverty was overwhelming, the male attention was infuriating. I locked myself in my room and cried for days. Maybe other people have harder nerves, but I do not. Considering the bubble that most of us grow up in, I don't think that my experience was particularly unique, but none the less eye opening. It wasn't a special inner strength or optimism that got me through it. It was the realization that for me this was essentially a vacation and yet for millions of people this is the reality of day to day life. I became acutely aware of the privileged of being a westerner and felt guilty for it. This is not to say that the people I met were not happy people, though.

O+W: Along with your growth, how did your experience change your perspective on priorities?

BG: I've grown an immense amount over the years. Its hard to tell what is just getting older and what is due to traveling. Definitely being away gave me a new appreciation for my friends and family. Its not easy to admit but I think that I have prioritized my desire to travel above my relationships which is neither right nor necessary. My time away has made me realize that community and relationships are where true happiness is found. I will forever have a kinder lust that is insatiable but my priorities have shifted toward the people around me. Also, my perspective on travel has shifted. I believe more in backpacking with a purpose but also am more aware of what little I may have to offer in many situations. 

O+W: What would your message to the world be?

BG:  One, be aware of how truly lucky we are and how many opportunities are available to us. But, also, how skewed, as westerners, our idea of happiness is. Happiness is simple and is the same for all of us the world over. It’s family and friends, a good laugh,  a connection with nature, a beautiful sunrise, food, its not nearly as complicated or as unattainable as much of the world would have us believe.

To be considered a free spirit both humbles and elates me. Its a mindset and a lifestyle that says that happiness and simplicity is what life is really about. Its about being true to yourself and allowing yourself the freedom to enjoy anything and everything. I'm a true appreciator of art, I have neither the talent or the patience to create, so my love for art is immense. I love to travel, which I think came from my love of books. My favorite nights are dinner and board games with friends, I could play settlers everyday! I try not to have a favorite anything because I don't want to limit myself. Don't be afraid of your anxiety but treat at as a tool to lead you to new experiences. Don't forget that we're all connected on our journey through this life and never feel alone. Get your hands dirty, that's what life is about.

Connect with Brianna

                         Facebook: Brianna Gorsky
                         Instagram @briecheezy7


  1. I have known Brianna for years and I can honestly say she is one of my favorite people! The most accurate description of Brianna is to say she is "real".

    1. I couldn't agree with you more! She illuminates this infectious happiness where ever she is.

  2. Love Opal and Wonder!!!