Being What You Are

Recently I was handed the opportunity to go to NYC with my brother. Now, I’ve been to NYC twice and I really enjoyed exploring that iconic city but I declined this invitation. Was it too expensive? Did I have conflicting obligations? Not so much but my brother did. He was going there for work and would be tied up in meetings for four of the five days and evenings that we would be there. Essentially, I would be traveling alone. So what’s wrong with that? Embrace the adventure! Say YES! to novelty. Yeah, I’ve heard it all.

Here’s the thing. I realized that traveling essentially alone is not something I want to do. It’s something I think I SHOULD want to do. It’s something that I think brave, smart, independent, tough people do and since I want to be brave, smart, independent and tough, than I SHOULD do that. It’s so hard sometimes for me to separate out what I WANT to do vs what my internal dialogue is commanding that I SHOULD do. Not so unusual, I know, but certainly a big part of my internal life. A friend had a useful perspective on it. It’s not that I don’t want to travel. It’s that I don’t want to travel alone. I’m not interested in checking things off a list. Instead, I am interested in visiting places, seeing things, and then having lunch or dinner with my travel companion and talking about what we saw or did , maybe how that matches or is different from some other experience, maybe just celebrating the beauty or intrigue of the places we saw. I don’t want the experience just for the experience. I want it so I can have a shared experience with someone that I care about. It enriches the whole thing for me (and, quite likely , my travel companion as well).

I imagine that if I went to NYC with my brother Kevin I would head out of the Times Sqaure hotel in the morning , making my way to some places that I could get to, doing what I SHOULD do, so that I can say to myself and the rest of the world, “See? Look at me. I AM brave, and smart, and independent, and tough and cool.” But, really? Really it’s a show. No, my type of trip is the evenly paced, not too crowded or noisy kind of trip that can be shared. I understand that many people enjoy that fast paced travel. I wonder if it’s more of an extrovert thing? And I know that , as much as I acknowledge my introversion, I also see it as a liability in this culture and I try hard to cover it up. And traveling essentially in NYC would take a lot of covering up, a lot of energy. And to prove what? That I am all those things? Maybe I don’t need to prove those to anyone. I wish that were true.

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