Living in a World of Strangers.

I have touched on this in the past, but I have never really gotten deep. You know wet suit deep. So let's dive in....By definition a stranger means: a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar. Or a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community. And yes I am sure no one would dispute that. What I now know is how traveling is able to turn a stranger from a random person you pass on a street to a friend you will have for life.

I cannot comment on people from the rest of the world, I can only comment on what I know. What I do know is that coming from South Africa, we are very closed off. Our social groups are often hard to enter or leave for that matter. It becomes hard to define yourself once you receive your "label". It can sometimes leave you feeling trapped. You may have felt it yourself. I know I did, but I have also found that there is another way.

I have found that while traveling there is no judgement. At least at first. There is a sense while you are traveling that no matter the size of the group, there is always an open door. Just this week I met new people, and although it sounds silly, it feels as though I have known them for years. We have all met those people back home who seem so offish, or for the lack of a better word...complete Arseholes. Instead you are told that "he/she needs to warm up to you" or "once you get to know them they are great". Why can't you be great right from the start? Why do I need to earn your friendliness or smiles?

Sometimes it can take years. I have decided that people, maybe not all, build those walls of protection. It may take weeks, months or even years of friendship before those walls come down. Before you get to see the real them. Before they will open up, tell you stories, secrets, regrets, past loves and future dreams. While it is opposite while traveling, people are open books. I know that in in many countries such as South Africa we are taught not to trust, we are taught to be weary, to be guarded and to make sure we are not being taken for all we are worth. There are cases that we do need this though I agree. But sadly it comes at a cost. It becomes so ingrained in us that we forget to give those that we meet a chance. We run the risk of missing out on great moments because we have been taught that familiar is good and change is met with caution.

Jump across and ocean or over a continent and all this changes. Suddenly we are encouraged, expected and willing to meet everyone with open arms. Why? Because you have to. You need to. And more importantly you know that most people are in the same boat as you. The people you meet abroad will be your friends for life. You are vulnerable, away from home and your bonds grow quickly. If you are different people and don't see eye to eye, there is no bad blood. No you just move to a different group. Everyone is generally willing to meet and welcome you. It is the greatest thing I have found about traveling and living abroad. It has allowed me to always be myself. To know that I will be accepted no matter what. That the friends I have made like me for me. It a strange world, and there is no better time to be a stranger and explore it.

So why does it have to be like that. Surely you can bring this mentality back with you, when you do decide to go home. The answer is of course you can. It has existed the entire time. It's the I don't give a F%$K what you think of me attitude. Sure it's easy to say and posting it on your instagram only means that you actually do care what people think about you. (Yes you people who post all that motivation/love/carefree stuff, you know what I mean) But traveling allows you to realise that you had the ability to be carefree all alone. To be yourself and just be happy whatever you are doing. The world is full of strangers, and it's going to be one hell of an adventure meeting them along the way. People often say they have grown since they have been traveling, I don't think that is the case, I just think they found what they had the entire time without ever knowing it. Please vote for me here

1 comment:

  1. Great entry. I have a similar view, but slightly different: while I agree that meeting folks and making friends is easier when traveling (and I think your reasons why are spot on), I've found that these friendships do not last forever. This is not a bad thing, though. Spontaneous and fleeting, these people who come into and out of our lives help construct the experience and the future memory, but often, it is only this common experience that we have in common. That is not enough for a lifelong friendship. When you get the chance to know someone more deeply -- in the intimate ways you describe, like with stories and secrets and regrets -- you come to realize whether or not you would like to keep this person in your life. When traveling, you know that soon enough, you will part ways with your new acquaintances, and it is better to keep a positive memory of the time you spend abroad. I think you've inspired me to elaborate upon this in a longer blog post! Thank you!

    Anyway, I came across your blog through the 2014 big blog exchange (#bigblogx) contest. I voted for you, and I hope you can return the favor:

    Reach out to me and follow on Twitter @travelogueblog or check out my own travel blog for travel tips, stories, and adventure ideas:

    Thanks again and happy travels.

    -- Mark NP