Does travel cause a loss of self-identity ? Or can travel help you find yourself while being lost in a foreign culture ? The musing lends itself to scrutiny as I look back on the countries and states I’ve visited in the past several years. Countless paychecks and plane rides later, I can safely say that I’ve discovered more of myself and the world around me, but I don’t think that I’ve grown, per say. Physically and mentally, I’ve been more or less the same size for years. That being said, I’ve learned more and started using more of my brain–in other words, my potential was unbeknownst to myself. I hesitate to say that I grew because I’ve had it in me all along. We all do.
It all comes with the right kind of support. The fact is that people need others around them egging them on, praising them, and yelling at them when they mess up. A person’s potential will stagger because of the unfavorable environment in which his or her lack of motivation is being reinforced.
Contrary to popular belief, personality and environment are the two most important factors in identity formation. I’m lucky enough to still have both of my parents, but some people are not so lucky. Their personalities are formed with gaps and holes, and their identities become amalgamated through the lacks and the surpluses with which they were raised. My gaps and holes are a mystery to all but a trusted few. But imagine what it would be like to have your life broadcasted in tabloids and celebrity news channels like E! and VH1… You would probably go on coke binges and shave your head too. Britney, I don’t blame you.
Shoddy journalism still makes money off of people who fiend for base gossip and speculation. I’ve known so many otherwise cultured people that go one of two ways : they either immerse themselves in politics, sociology, art, and heaviness, or they distance themselves from their high-charged careers at any possible moment by watching romantic comedies and reading People Magazine in their spare time. Clearly, the demographic for this type of writing is pretty broad and is vaguely defined by people who want to tune out for a minute. Personally, the lightness of being gets to be a little much at times when I pick the latter option, so keeping a healthy balance is what I live for most of the time. Whatever floats your boat.
We’re all only as strong as we think we are. Therefore, the man who shoots you down could be your impetus for change or your bullet to the head. There’s a lot less to it than meets the eye. In some instances, going through the motions in life is the path of least resistance, while for others it’s a path that’s met with resistance. Day-to-day, we’re faced with millions of decisions. We make most of them without even thinking about it, but the decision-making process can require a lot of energy. If decisions are particularly difficult for you, you may just decide that going with the flow is the best option. But how are you benefitting from life if you don’t make the most out of everything ? If you look at your environment as a big, round orange, you should ideally be trying to squeeze that orange dry with all of your actions and decisions. “When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold”. Slug’s right about one thing, which is that gold is a lot more useful than a bunch of fruit…. At least in the modern society we live in. I guess if we still depended on livelihood and bartering, lemons would be useful, the internet would be obsolete, and this blog would be useless.
If there’s anything traveling has schooled me on, it’s that boredom is just a state of mind, not a state of being. Being bored in a big city signifies a lack of interest, not a lack of activities. Every minute you spend thinking about doing something is a minute wasted not actually doing it. What’s horrible about laziness is that it’s mental paralysis. Stuck in between two greys, you are going nowhere, and fast. That sedentary lifestyle becomes the norm, and so does your indecisiveness. You’re stuck in purgatory, but only you have the key. That being said, laziness is relative, and all religions and ways of life are just different paths to the same thing. Everyone’s on the pursuit of happiness.
Sidenote : “Vagabond” by The King’s Parade encapsulates the short journeys and fathomless solitude that make up the life of a restless soul.
Travelling has simultaneously opened my spirit and disappointed me. There is no ideal place to go, no ideal living situation, and no ideal traveling buddy. Life is imperfect no matter where you go, and no place is a promised land–not Paris, not Salt Lake City, not even New York. These stories are the same as the ones people told the poor immigrants about the streets of America. They packed up their lives to come to Ellis Island and found that the streets were not, in fact, paved with gold. If you really immerse yourself where you are, you’ll see that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Layer after layer, you’ll discover the various facets that make up a city, culture, village, society. Taxes, death, violence, and illness are everywhere if you look hard enough, but so are the things that make life worth it. The diamonds in the ruff.
The openness to new experience that comes with travelling is more of an awareness of the things around you rather than a gain. I read somewhere that we only use a small percentage of our brains as adults, and that certain people use more than others. I wonder if people who have had the opportunity to travel use more of their brains than the others…. that hypothesis has yet to be tested. That’s what I mean when I say that travel hasn’t made me grow–it just raised my awareness and tested me in ways the Institution never could have. Travel : the practical component of a global education.