Summary: What current events have taught me, and given me further insights into why I travel. I travel to be educated, to be humbled, to learn, because I know we are one. I don’t want to be stuck in my own bubble of a country.
Like many others, I’ve found it hard to believe how 2020 could have gotten worse, until it did.
I was completely shocked by current events and how overtly horrible prejudice and discrimination had become in America.
I had known it was brewing under the surface, but we seemed to have been headed in a direction of improvement, until the past several years.
Donald Trump profited on and exacerbated our fears of others to take power, and it’s only seemed to have gotten more overt since then.
I like to believe there’s a point to this all, that perhaps bringing to the surface its full, ugly face, is the only way we can truly start to heal.
My heart is breaking for all those who suffer from this cruel system. I have always gotten so riled up at prejudice and discrimination, no matter towards what minority group.
As an Asian and a female, I realize I am disadvantaged compared to some, but so privileged compared to others.
I am so thankful for my personal experiences because they helped me really understand what life is like for a minority, but I still feel inadequate for not experiencing what life is like for others less fortunate than I am.
The injustices faced by people of my skin color are nothing compared to what black Americans have to go through every day.
I have felt so powerless to help, since I wasn’t sure if saying “I’m here for you, I see you and stand by you” would mean anything to victims when I felt like an imposter, having not experienced what they experienced.
Some of the words I had seen being spread even felt condescending, and I could see someone responding to me with “Easy for you to say! Well what do you REALLY know??”
I know firsthand experience is not the only way to truly understand and empathize, but there is still a part of me that feels it would enhance my understanding and I feel guilty and inadequate.
I can only do the best that I can to truly step into another person’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.
I think that’s what draws me to the nomadic traveling life — I want to understand, as fully as I can, the lives of others from all walks of life all over the world, which I can’t do from books or cursory visits.
I want to learn as much as I can about all diverse groups of people and give back to them my knowledge, experiences, and love, because I know we are all connected and we are all one.
I rarely do the touristy sight-seeing things when I travel; I love chatting with locals and even staying in their homes with AirBnB or other exchanges.
I loved being with a host family in Morocco, and really learned what life is like for them, and hoped I left them with food for thought and new perspectives as well.
I still have so much to learn. I am guilty still of consciously and unconsciously taught beliefs passed on by my family, of the lesser value of women, persons of color, lower socioeconomic statuses, lower education, single people, and any other traits outside the majority/”norm” or their set of ideals.
My family often lamented why they didn’t have a single son in my generation, and said things like “dating anyone is okay, just not a black guy,” “don’t hang out with those losers” (who came from poor families or failed a class), and “homosexuals have a disease.”
So many arguments have started over those comments, though I am guilty of not always fighting every time out of fatigue. I’ve realized I may not ever be able to change them, but at least I can change myself, and others of my and future generations.
I’m consciously trying to unlearn these beliefs for myself because I still hold some implicit biases, including against myself. It’s not been an issue in friendships, acquaintances, or work life, but in dating, I sometimes dismiss prospects based on education, occupation, or skin color.
I’m so ashamed of these snap judgments, but I struggle with giving everyone a chance to know their soul vs. the pressure of not wanting to waste too much time, especially as a woman in her 30s.
It’s been difficult for me to admit to these biases, but I know the first step to healing is awareness, even of the ugliest parts of myself. I’ve struggled with feeling worthy and believing in myself, likely because of my achievement-oriented upbringing but also because of self-judgment and a critical inner voice. It’s a work in progress.
I hope that as I continue traveling and getting to know more diverse people, I will continue to grow and heal, to become the best version of myself. I want that for all others too, which is why I encourage everyone to travel, even if not extensively or nomadically.
It opens minds and hearts, and changes you in ways you might never have expected (as described in this hilarious post by Millenial Revolution, world nomads who retired at age 31!).
If you can’t travel, consider going to local cultural events or even couchsurfing hosting international travelers in your home to learn from them.
Much of the fear of others comes from ignorance and little exposure to the unknown. I dream of a world where we see that we are all one, that we all have common ground, and that helping others means helping ourselves. A world where we no longer grapple with wars, power struggles, or violence.
I know such a world is possible, now more than ever, thanks to technology. I’m so glad we are raising our voices for change!!
I may not have the best understanding that I could have, but I now realize that my support does mean something, and I can make a difference by doing what I can, and continuing to learn every day.
RIP George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Dreasjon Reed, Botham Jean, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Michael Brown, Michelle Shirley, Redel Jones, Kenney Watkins, Stephon Clark, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and so many others.