Travelling is a unique way to meet people. You get to know them really quickly, and you’re able to share as much or as little as you want with them. If you want to be a writer or an artist, you can be just that. You don’t have to get into the nuances of all the other parts of your life.
When I was in Morocco in 2013 (in fact, it was on New Year’s Eve, leading into 2014), I hung out with an American couple who worked for the Peace Corp out of the US: Quinn and Maryam. We were wandering the streets of Essouira, eating shitty pizza and drinking cheap booze somewhat illegally. At one point in the conversation, we started talking about hobbies. Specifically, I started talking about all of my creative pursuits and I started to open up about who I was, outside of “work.”
Maryam paid me one of the most amazing compliments of my life: “did you always want to grow up and be awesome?” She said it tongue in cheek, but she meant it, from what I could tell.
More recently, a friend congratulated me about my time to complete a half marathon. I have been training for the last several months, but I don’t consider myself to be particularly athletic. Growing up, I never was, and that same attitude followed me through my youth and into my adult years. It still lingers there from time to time, even.
In both of these cases, and I’m sure there are many more examples of this, the person I was speaking with had a more positive view of me than I had for myself. That’s really troubling to me. As I grow older, I grow more critical of myself. I haven’t been celebrating myself as much as I could. (Not actually celebrating. I don’t need a party. I just need to feel good about my accomplishments.)
I don’t think I need to travel in order to convince myself that what I’m doing is good, though. I can do that from the comfort of my own home.