They say when you travel solo you learn a great deal about yourself, things that perhaps weren’t so evident before. Whilst, I haven’t managed to take out time and reflect like I would back home, I have manged to take time out on all the long bus journeys I’ve done. So, what have I learnt about myself? Many things, first off, I knew I was never an extrovert but I wouldn’t have said that I was a introvert either. Turns out I’m more of an introvert than I thought.
So, I’m one to zone out or shut down after I’ve been active for too long. I don’t have a unless stream of energy and need to go away and recharge after I’ve been too social. Alone time is good, I always manage to occupy myself with a book, article or my diary. I’m also not one for small talk, never have been, silence isn’t always awkward, sometimes it’s just right, peaceful. Moreover, I’m a writer, either I’m writing my blog, thoughts during a day or my diary. I don’t have all the traits for an introvert but I’ve picked up on these so far and maybe there are more to come.
What else have I noticed? Well, I’ve been lucky enough to make many friends along my travels and I had come to think that it was almost a given that I would not only meet like-minded people but that we would become really good friends. This however, is not always the case and it’s quite alright. I won’t open up and share everything with all the people I meet and that’s fine. Those of whom share the similar views or values to me, yes we do click and the conversation flows. But, there are others which have different ideas and with little common ground there is only so much you can converse.
For example, for most of us growing up in college or university, the three utmost coolest things were to go out and do something stupid, get drunk and get high. I have many friends back home who do neither and they are amongst some of the greatest people I know. To be fair, I never had this perception and as I continue to travel, I still don’t. I love to go out, meet people, have a drink and dance but that’s it. I don’t want to get plastered every other night and not remember how I got home – for me that doesn’t scream fun.
Part of this and other popular ideas are projected through the society we live in. If its not people then it’s the media, if its not celebrities then it’s politicians and so it continues. The end result is something is hyped up so much and accepted so any alternative is unacceptable. So, to have fun, you have to go out and drink and then share a joint because how else would you have a good time? It’s a shame that some people have this view because it quite honestly isn’t true. Yes, some people have a blast from doing just that but it’s not everyones cup of tea.
There is a disillusionment with what’s funny also or what’s acceptable when you’re drunk. It is funny for some to come back drunk and make as much noise as possible so that everyone else who was sleeping is now awake. Here’s the thing, it’s not very funny for those that have been woken up at 3am, I mean seriously, who wants to woken up at 3am when you have work the next day? I’m still young and yes I love going out etc but a little consideration goes a long no matter where you’re staying or who you share your room with.
Some people have never had to share with complete strangers, so understandably it’s a experience. Some of us adapt quicker than others. Part of this comes from travelling but again, those who have never traveled this in itself is an experience. It is stretching your comfort zone and you either love it or hate it. Back-packing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea either. Living out of a bag can be hard whether it’s 6 weeks or 6 months but again it’s a experience. Everyday comforts tend not to be the priority, for those of whom who want a hot shower, same hot meals and wifi, they have a tough time adjusting. Travelling isn’t about re-creating what have back at home or looking for people from our culture or country, rather it’s about embracing everything that is different, new and unheard of. Else why travel?
In the same way, the cities, architecture, transport system and stores are different. We in the west have tarmac roads, in South East Asia they have dusty roads, here in South America they have brick roads. So, here in Rio, yes the streets smell or urine and yes you have to avoid the dog feces but it’s the reality for the people who live here. Where most of us volunteer there are no sewage systems so you see rivers of waste water running down the side of houses next to fresh laundry and the local baker. It’s not ideal and it’s not easy but that’s the reality. Rather than turning your nose or complaining about how awful it is, why not do something about it? Why not immense yourself to change it? All of us volunteering here are doing just that.
My whole intention of wanting to volunteering in South America was to make a difference, however small but to do something, give something and learn a great deal. So, I don’t like to complain and I’m generally chilled about most things. But, I’ve grown to learn that people who are disrespectful or inconsiderate drive me crazy. Partly because on the whole most of the people that I have met are so caring and loving and mindful of others. So, when I then meet someone who is otherwise, I don’t understand it, I mean how hard is it to treat someone how you wish to be treated?
On the whole, there isn’t a great deal of bitchiness or back-chatting amongst the back-packers that I’ve met but I appreciate that this is inevitable. We all tend to moan about someone or something but wouldn’t it be great if you could tell the person to their face how you felt or why you were upset. When I see people whispering or back-chatting it just takes me back to high-school. Again, why say something you wouldn’t want said to you?
For me, I would it’s pretty simple, be your own best friend but also be the person you would like to meet. Would I want to meet me? Yes, I would have to say I would, it takes time to get to know me on occasions, I’m like a orange, you have to peel back the layers but I know others would agree that it’s worth it. I think of many of things my parents taught us growing up and one of them was if you give, truly give something, give it with all your heart, don’t do it halfheartedly because you’re better of not bothering at all. So, I as much as possible, give with all my heart and then some but it’s when people take advantage of this kindness that I feel annoyed. I give with no intention of receiving anything back but when someone takes you for a ride, it’s not on.
Truthfully, both back home and out on the road, some people are never content, they always want something else, something more. Those that are away from home, see photos of all the amazing things happening at home and want to be there, those that are at home, see photos of all the great things aboard and want to leave. It’s a little strange because wouldn’t it be amazing if people could just be grateful for all the wonderful things they have? If we could all just make the most of everything, everyone, each moment that we have been blessed with because who knows when we will be so fortunate again.
I appreciate that we are all on our individual journeys and whilst our paths may cross, we are all in a different place in our lives. I would like to think that one day, people see how blessed they are, how amazing their life is and most importantly how great it is to be them. It’s great to be inspired, to change and dream but truthfully most of the people that I’ve met are amazing just the way they are. Whether, they’re chasing a dream, volunteering, moving, travelling or working away from home, their story is unique and they have so much to give. It doesn’t matter what religion, culture, age or gender we are from because all we really need and want is love.