Some people choose to live a carefree life, some take comfort in feeling safe and secure. Some choose stability, while others long for constant change. Some are comfortable with what they already have, and others may search, only to find they never have enough. Understanding who you are and how you define yourself is important. To often we seek approval from our peers, and conform to an idealistic way of who we should be, rather than embracing who we are. We understand at a young age how unique we are, yet somehow lose touch of what makes us stand out, and we end up blending in.
I’ve always known I was different. Growing up, I never had just one group of friends. From elementary school until my college graduation, I had always roamed freely through different cliques. I have never completely required the attention of my peers, in fear of spending some quality time alone with myself. I sometimes get social anxiety in large groups of people, and often find myself politely disagreeing with the opinions of others, rather than conforming to them. I lose touch with friends more frequently than I’d like to admit, and make plans for myself more often than with friends.
But I wasn’t always this way, I used to crave attention and acceptance. I would tell all my girlfriends every detail of my life, and considered solitary to be a weakness. I now recognize my independence as my greatest strength. People often say to me “You’ve changed”, and sometimes I think its meant as a negative remark. However, I consider it a positive attribute, because yes, the truth is I have changed. I have grown.
What I wasn’t realizing in my teenage years, was that I was looking for approval. In high school Facebook was created, I could see clearly in front of me how many “friends” I had, and how many comparable to those of my peers. In high school unfortunately you are defined by the opinions that others have of you, not by how you see yourself. It isn’t until you branch off and pursue your individual interests that you are considered an individual, entirely, as your own self.
Unfortunately, some people are still determining their self worth by the number of likes their selfie gets. Comparing their number of followers to those of their friends, and never feeling quite like they compare without following the latest Jenner trend. Some still feel the need to tell their friends all their secrets, instead of telling one person whom they know they can trust. They keep their mouth shut when they have their own opinions, but bitch and complain about their friends, to other friends when they disagree, instead of saying so in the first place. The problem is, these people are seeking acceptance in a society that has a hard time accepting. Rather than being secure, and confident, and accepting themselves, these people choose to blend. So when a friend, who’s been more privileged and given better opportunities gets handed a job, they can’t be happy for them. They’ll bitch to the other girls in the group, and discuss why their life isn’t fair, never bothering to make their own connections, and getting caught in a recurring cycle of self hatred. “Why her? Poor me. Its not fair.”
I decided a long time ago that I was going to stop blaming everyone else for my own misfortunes, and focus on making my life the way I wanted it to be, the way I know that it deserves to be. Not by comparing, not by copying. I decided that I was going to make my own path, probably stumble along the way, but ultimately, do what I want to do, follow my own set of rules, and be confident in who I am.
Work Hard, Play Hard. People ask me all the time, “how do you have enough money to travel?” (Your parents must be paying for it.) But my mother cut me off a long time ago, especially given the nomadic lifestyle I have chose for myself. I work hard to be able to take opportunities as they present themselves, and if they don’t, I go out and find them.
I work hard to play hard, and I save up. I’ve had the privilege of working as a bartender for the past 5 years, however my experience was never handed to me – I worked for it. I started as a host, and made my way up. I work long days, and late nights but its worth it because after all the hard work, I get to travel. Its not as easy as it sounds though, sacrifices have obviously had to be made. I have learned how to spend my money differently than the average girl. I rarely colour my hair, don’t hide my face underneath hundreds of dollars worth of makeup, and never bother getting my nails done (you don’t need any of that on the road). To some girls, these things are important, but not to me. I live simply… but I didn’t always. I learned how to be a minimalist through my experiences travelling. I learned the importance of necessity. Instead of buying something to please my vanity, or because someone else has it, I understand how to buy what I need. So many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t even like. I recognized that I wanted to travel, and focused my purchases, or lack thereof around it.
The different types of culture I have been able to immerse myself in have allowed me to see things in a different perspective, and for that I am fortunate. I have lived in places stricken by poverty, and dissimilarly in places that thrive on wealth. What I did notice, and this may come as a surprise, was that the people living in impoverished areas of the world, actually seemed happier than those living in mansions. They smiled more, said thank you more, and appreciated more. They made me appreciate more. They changed me.
I’m not here preaching because I think I have life figured out, and that my way is the right way. I’m just trying to live out my own destiny the way I see fit, and find a way that makes more sense to me. I have been home (my actual home) for about a week now, spending time around family and friends, and have found it very apparent, the considerable amount I have changed. I have only just begun learning so I wonder, as each day on the road fills me with knowledge, how disconnected this place will make me feel as time goes by. I am by no means right or wrong, I am simply acknowledging that I am different, and more importantly understanding that I am okay with it. I am writing this to invoke some self discussion, after all why does anyone write, if not for the hope of inspiring.
I hope you will begin to think deeply about who you are. Not who your friends tell you you are, or who you want to be, but who you are, at the very core of yourself. Understanding who we are allows us to acknowledge the individualities of our friends, and see ourselves as unique, and stop comparing our losses to others successes. We need to start small, to working towards a future where we, like the impoverished, will smile more, say thank you more, and appreciate more.