There was no judgement.
I saw people open up.
And to me, a stranger.
I didn’t know this then, but I know I know this now, to travel is to be authentically you.
One conversation sparked it all
It was my first solo trip and while talking to 2 strangers, I realized for the first time in a long time, I had the chance to be me. I was always me, but this time, it was different. There was an air of freedom in my words. A harmonious melody. A feeling of peace.
There was no judging. There was no knowledge of my prior self. There was no me-titled box to fit into.
In that moment, it was just me. The me I chose to be.
And in that moment, just as the boys had done so effortlessly, I detached myself from all the judgement, all the preconceptions, and all the worries inside of me. In that moment I chose to be me.
Hello Stranger, This is Me
It was crazy to think that these boys, mere strangers 2 hours ago, divulged so much about themselves to me. Why did they tell me things that my best friends wouldn’t even admit? Their falsified resumes, genuine lack of work experience, jobs they hated but pretended to love in order to look good in front of their peers, all of it. Why share this info? Why with me?
I didn’t know this then, but I know this now, to travel is to be authentically you.
Most of us are in similar situations, that’s how we ended up here. And when we realize this commonality, the heart just opens up.
At home I worry what my peers will think. Am I successful? Am I doing good enough? Am I living up to the expectation and standards I set long ago? When I was in the fitness business, I was expected to be in tip top shape all the time. While that makes sense, it was exhausting. If I was caught eating nachos in public, there was a comment. One too many drinks, a comment. Gained a few pounds, a comment.
I always felt judged
But with strangers, I felt free. It helped that they didn’t know my past and they wouldn’t see me in the future. They could be brutally honest and know that it would have no impact on our friendship. They could tell me the truth. They could say anything. And anything is what I wanted to hear. I wanted an honest opinion. I wanted to share a similar fear. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone.
With friends, we have to tiptoe sometimes. We care about their feelings. We skirt around the issue. We handle them with care. We share just enough to make our point, no more, no less.
With peers, we lie. We blatantly lie. We have one passing moment to prove we’re “good enough” before we meet again. And we will meet again, we always do.
When did this system get so backwards? How have we allowed it to go on for so long?
Would you do it?
If you met a stranger, someone who posed no threat, held no judgement, didn’t know any of your friends, and would never see you again (unless you wanted them to), what information would you share? What if their story paralleled yours? What if this was the ONE person who made you feel like you were not alone? Would you let it all out?
I could not grasp this idea until I started traveling, until I started putting myself out there, and until I started to accept the me that I decided to be.
I can try to explain it, but it won’t click until you’re there. I know that was the case for my mom at least. She didn’t understand why I could be so lit up while traveling, yet so dull at home. When she met me in Peru, everything changed.
She felt it.
She connected with strangers. She shared an ungodly amount of information with random people on the bus, on the plane, and on the train. She spent hours talking to strangers, hearing their stories and sharing hers. She thrived when I wasn’t there, as we separated for a day. She made friends. Real friends. She even introduced me to them!
She felt it.
It was freeing. It was exciting. It was fun.
It was honest. It was pure. It was her.
It felt good to let it all out.
I dare you!
Have you ever had a moment where you and a stranger just clicked?